Saturday, March 11, 2017

Harley & Joker

This is not going to be a popular opinion given the hype that arose after last year's Suicide Squad came out, even if the movie as a whole is not widely considered to be that good. 

But what the hell does everyone see in Harley Quinn, and for that matter the Joker, and their whole manipulative messed up relationship, that is so great? 

As a comic book, or a cartoon series, yes they make great villains and are definitely colourful to watch, but translated to the big screen the result is disturbing as hell. It's an abusive, frightening bad romance to the max and I just don't get it. 

In a modern world of pop culture when people are so ready to take up their pitchforks against the very poorly written 50 Shades series and it's depiction of abuse, why are people so seemingly accepting of Harley and Joker in Suicide Squad? I don't get it. 

Now the Joker has never been my favourite Batman villain - I tend to think I prefer the more fun ones like Poison Ivy, the Riddler and Catwoman - but I can respect that the Joker is often seen to be one, if not THE, of the Bat's arch nemeses. I couldn't say exactly where it began, not being an avid comic book fan, but if it was before Tim Burton's 1989 epic with the character played by the amazing Jack Nicholson then I would like to know. Nicholson, famous for playing Jack Torrance in the Shining (which was amazing), plays the Joker in a dark, yet true to form cartoon villain and gangster. Harley doesn't make any obvious appearance in the film, but it is a great antithesis into the mentality and creation of the Joker - much more faithful than the later Heath Ledger (RIP) adaptation almost 20 years later. 

The thing about the Joker is that he is a manipulator. He was a mob boss before his acid accident, and after that when he was truly insane he became the worst kind of villain - he would kill you in inventive ways and laugh as he did so. Plus he was iconic in his character design like all comic book villains were, that he was purposely drawn to appear like a clown. Clowns are after all a very American phobia, and the Joker was a very American villain he may as well have been Al Capone in drag. 

The Joker didn't start out to be, but has become the Bat's most notorious nemesis because he is so manipulative and how he goes about it. Every plan he comes up with is insane and would have required so much foresight Poirot would have struggled to solve his crimes if he didn't tell all at the end like a Bond villain. The Joker's ego is arguably his one weakness. His manipulation is so strong with Harley that he entire character genesis consists of the Joker pulling the strings; she exists because he made her, not because he loved her. We should feel sorry for her as a victim not want to be like her.

What is it about 2016's Harley Quinn that has so many people excited? Kudos to Margot Robbie because she is a babe, but surely there has to be more to a character than how she looks in tiny shorts for us to be impressed. Or at least I sincerely hope there needs to be because though I can appreciate an attractive person she's still annoying as all hell. 10 minutes in her company I'd have triggered either her nano bomb or my own just to be away from it. 

Is it that she's so hardcore? Granted seeing a woman kick ass is always great, but Harley Quinn's badassery, at least in Suicide Squad, is complete overshadowed by her relationship with the Joker in flashbacks. It's through these that we learn how she came to be and it's this genesis that confuses me the most by how obvious it is. Harley is a product of abuse, plain and simple. She falls in love with the wrong man who manipulates her for his own gain to get what he wants - and it never stops. He's physically abusive - in all adaptations - he's egotistical, cruel, and leaves her behind to take the fall in just about every situation. Yet Harley is completely overcome by him; everything she does is determined by his opinion, his stance and his actions. What about that is so great? Where does the role model aspect come in that I seem to keep seeing? 

Is it because that at the end of the day for all her psychotic nature and action she just wants to settle down with the Joker and have babies? She's relatable? Isn't that what women warn each other about in trying to change their man and thinking that they're the exception all time? 

In 2017 why are we suddenly looking up to a female figure who prances around in tiny shorts, literally went insane for her man and their bad romance, kills people, throws over her comrades at the first opportunity, and should be locked up in an asylum til the end of time. Why would you want to be like Harley Quinn? She's not feminist, she's not a positive role model - she's just a crazy hot chick. The kind of crazy hot chick that we shouldn't elevate like we do. 

Like I said I can appreciate that Harley is hot, she's a bad ass, and Margot Robbie is pretty great. But for me, that doesn't change the fact that Harley Quinn is a horrible role model, batshit crazy and a complete pain in the ass. 

Don't forget guys, Harley Quinn was still written by men and not with women's best interests. Don't let it fool you. 

Sam xox