Impeachment, Trump, and the Joker Movie

| 10/9/2019 10:26:00 AM

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Photo by Adobe Stock/Konstantin Savusia.

I saw new Joker movie, oh boy. I sat in the back row mad close to the exit—intentionally—because I could not help but think about mass shootings and angry males, especially when I saw a couple of men sitting alone, shifting much in their seats ahead of the darkness and Joker as I entered the theater. Terrible to feel this way, but this is America, and here we are.

As I digested this good-but-not-great character study of the Joker performed by the breathtaking Joaquin Phoenix, I could not help but think about one of the greatest American films ever, Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver, featuring Robert DeNiro’s star turn as the anti-hero’s hero Travis Bickle and how shamelessly Joker samples and remixes that 1976 film. I also thought a lot about the current state of this country under the beet-red dictatorial thumb of one Donald Trump, a man so bloated with hate and violent tendencies and race and male and wealth privilege gone crazy that an entire nation finds itself trapped in a viciously abusive relationship with him.

Yes, Trump should be impeached. No, I do not think Republicans, or his base, will abandon him, because they need what he represents, what he fuels, just like Travis and Joker need “the others” to blame, to help justify their cruel and crude downward spiral into madness. Besides, what could be easier than to call for the impeachment of Donald Trump because of any—or all—of the following: Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election; potential Russian, Ukrainian, or Chinese influence on the 2020 campaign cycle; how he treats immigrants, African Americans, the LGBTQ+ community, women of all backgrounds, workers, the disabled, those with little to no healthcare; his reckless disregard for truth, competency, justice, or basic human decency? I mean, take your pick!

As I watched Joker, I reflected on past presidents like Andrew Johnson who, on the heels of Abe Lincoln’s assassination, publicly rallied hate against newly freed Black citizens with a national speaking tour. I concluded that we must consider the question that we never ask when we look at Richard Nixon or Donald Trump, Taxi Driver or Joker: How do we define manhood in this fair land, and why we can't we see the simple truth that America loves violence in every form because America was “founded” on violence? We obsess over violence like we obsess over food, or the latest iPhone.

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