Special Issue 19.1

That Joke Isn’t Funny Anymore: A Critical Exploration of Joker

From guest editor Sean Redmond’s introduction

Joker arrived at a time of what has been defined as ‘unprecedented’ political, social, and economic turmoil (Kellner, 2017). President Trump’s lacerating discourse, funnelled through ugly tweets and spectacular rallies, legitimised conspiracy theories while denying the indexes of truth-telling for fakery. Alongside Trump’s fictionalisation of the real was an appeal to alienated and disenfranchised (white) men, fuelling and flaming a toxicity that sought to poison the democratic well. In cities and towns black men found themselves under greater surveillance and in increasing risk of mortal harm from the forces of law and order. Black Lives Matter and they didn’t. Walls were being built to keep immigrants out and great Americans in. Under the banner of making America great again, geopolitical Isolation and exceptionalism became the yarns of the national imaginary. Many Americans gravitated to or were seduced by this populism. In the precarious marketplace, tens of millions of people found themselves living below the poverty line, on zero hour contracts, unable to afford basic food or healthcare. Social support services had been cut and a despairing loneliness had affected all demographics, becoming the crisis of the age. And yet, of course, people had also got (super) rich, the value of the stock-market had risen, and those on the breadline also lined up to celebrate this new Trumpian nationalism. In Joker we find these realities, collisions, and intersections played out.

Read the full introductory essay in our forthcoming issue 19.1 available in early 2021 

Featuring essays by Caroline Bainbridge; Jeffrey Brown; Amanda Howell; Jesús Jiménez-Varea, Alberto Hermida, and Víctor Hernández-Santaolalla; Misha Kavka; Mark Kerins; Ernest Mathijs; Sean Redmond; and Merlin Seller