9.19.18

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“In conclusion, there is no conclusion. Things will go on as they always have, getting weirder all the time.”
― Robert Anton Wilson

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On this day in 1982, the first emoticon was created by a Carnegie Mellon professor named Dr. Scott Fahlman. He suggested it as way to communicate sarcasm an electronic bulletin board, to create a “joke marker”:

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So technically, Dr. Fahlman created the first two emoticons:

🙂 Matter

😦 Anti-Matter

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And so Warner Bros. pushed out all the information they had on the new Joker movie, maybe in part to distract from the sudden seeming departure of both their Superman (Henry Cavill) and Batman (Ben Affleck). Far be it from me to turn this blog into a clearinghouse for such nerdy movie news and speculations—but I am a Jokerologist, after all, and such happenings are one of the few topics of useless study I try to keep up-to-date on.

First we were provided with an official portrait of Joaquin Phoenix as the Joker—which, as one Reddit user mused, looks like every guy in Portland, OR (no idea if that is really true, my apologies to the offended):

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Next, the studio described the film as an “exploration of Arthur Fleck (Phoenix), a man disregarded by society”—and that it “is not only a gritty character study, but also a broader cautionary tale.”

That’s Arthur Fleck, or A. Fleck. Or: Affleck.

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Further, it has been confirmed that Robert De Niro will be appearing in this movie, which cements the King Of Comedy/Taxi Driver connection (the director of both, Martin Scorsese, is also connected to the film). Which means that Arthur Fleck is most likely a combination of Rupert Pupkin & Travis Bickle.

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Rupert Pupkin & Travis Bickle

Again we have to ask: so what is the sociological resonance of this movie? What is it trying to reflect/say/project/predict?

And the Rosetta Stone for that is in the description of the character Thomas Wayne, which was originally offered to Alec Baldwin. Thomas—the father of Bruce, who will eventually become Batman—is described specifically in this film as being a “Donald Trump type” (not canon in terms of the rest of the Batman lore, as far as I know). So obviously, the role was offered to Baldwin because he played Trump on SNL.

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Which means…if Joker is our theoretical lunatic anti-hero in the Pupkin/Bickle mold…he will probably be diametrically opposed to Thomas Wayne, whom he probably sees as the type of pompous capitalist scum who ruined his life and made him destitute.

Which…if we are following the 1989 Batman movie continuity, might mean that Joker himself kills Thomas. (I was going to do a longer meditation on the sociological/historical impact of Taxi Driver, but I’ll wait for another time because it’s way too early to delve into that rabbit hole.)

So the new Joker movie, almost a decade after Dark Knight ushered in the current age, seems poised to usher us out of said age. Or so it seems the intention.

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But in the end, these are just superhero movies and comic books and cartoon glyphs.

Nobody takes these things seriously.

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There are some other interesting little bits that have happened recently I want to briefly touch upon:

This is not all to say that eventually the plan will be to ship all the unemployed and desperate as the result of the next recession into space, but…I’m not exactly saying it’s not, either.

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Also on this day in 1995, the Unabomber Manifesto was published by both The Washington Post and The New York Times. The then-anonymous bomber claimed that if they printed his manifesto, the bombings would stop. Theoretically about how technology would destroy America, it seemed to spend an awful lot of time ranting and raving against Leftists, political correctness, feminists, civil rights, gay rights, and so on.

The Bomber turned out to be a one Theodore Kaczynski, who as a student in Harvard participated in a psychological study designed to achieve “psychic deconstruction by humiliating undergraduates and thereby causing them to experience severe stress.” Kaczynski was verbally abused and humiliated for a total of 200 hours over three years.

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a young Ted Kaczynski

These tests were carried out by a one Dr. Henry A. Murray, referred to by his contemporary and colleague Dr. Timothy Leary as “the wizard of personality assessment who, as OSS chief psychologist, had monitored military experiments on brainwashing and sodium amytal interrogation.”

I got all this information from like Psychology Today and closely vetted Wikipedia entries, by the way, not crazy-pants websites. Harvard really did have a psychological experiment run by an ex-OSS chief psychologist & brainwashing expert that seemingly produced a maniac. Sometimes these things actually happen.

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This all seemed like a very “dark” entry today. Let’s switch it up with one of my favorite stand-up routines, “The Salt And Pepper Diner” by John Mulaney.

Have a good Wednesday; I’ve found out recently that my regular coffee was switched out for half-caff…probably for the best, though it moderately annoys me every once in a while when I remember it.