Here is an introduction,
Regular reader BV does the heavy lifting,
Imagine a child who is routinely abused emotionally and physically. Commonplace, right? Now imagine what happens to the child’s mind when the only adults he knows tell him/her his parents are saints and selfless. To me this is gaslighting. What is black is white, what is bad is good. Self-obliteration, or perhaps the obliteration of the gaslighter, are the only ways out. The gaslighter may wish for his victim to suicide out. That may be the perp’s projection, but it is real.
Joker was raised by a delusional, self-justifying monster who beat him, chained him, starved him (Phoenix must have lost 75 lbs for that role) and told him she loved him and by golly he loved her or else. She lies about his very origin — on two levels. (I’m trying not to spoil the movie.) So in middle age Joker still worships her, bathes her, soothes her. She has successfully gaslighted him. He wants to die. Everything that is bad he now requires himself to believe is good, but none of it is; it doesn’t add up. As he notes, he has never passed a single day in his life when he was happy. But his choices were to honor his mother and the house of lying cards she constructed for the two of them, or reject every element of what he was trained to believe.
Almost by accident, Joker severs his chains (which he loves, as they are all he has known), transcends his gaslighting. This is unfortunate for many other people, who preferred him drugged, ill and groveling. (They dead.) He no longer wishes himself dead. He wishes to claim his humanity at the expense of those who have denied his. This is a problem for Gotham.
I have not seen it yet, but I trust BV’s analysis. I will go see it though, driven by many factors. First, all of the correct people hate it. Second, there seems to be a story. Third, there actually seems to be characters. It is getting more and more difficult to find flicks with the last two.
If you have seen it, please chime in below.