Aug. 7th, 2016

kitewithfish: The Doctor tilts his head. (Default)
or, why I’m disappointed with Jared Leto

So the thing about Joker that makes him a hard character to write and portray is not that he’s edgy or violent or somehow more insane than other villains - those are traits that are actually pretty common for villains? Like, willingness to engage in violence is pretty standard, wearing weird clothes for effect is done for most villains, and ‘insanity’ in comic book movies comes in so many flavors and shade that it kind of has no meaning.

what makes joker hard is he has to be fucking funny

and comedy is hard

I’m not trying to simplify this and be insulting - comedy is HARD, because comedy requires structure, and then the interruption of structure. comedy literally requires more time and more buy-in from the audience than making someone evil or scary, it’s literally MORE DIFFICULT to get on film and get it right than drama or scariness or any of the other traits that the Joker should have

Here, have some meta.

the way jokes work is like this:

you have an assumption, and it’s proven wrong.

you have a starting set of assumptions, an idea of the world and how it works and you enter the joke with that and the set up of the joke relies on those assumptions to work - “Is your refrigerator running?” assumes that your audiences knows what a fridge is, understands what it would mean for it to be working properly, and gets that the word ‘running’ is a normal way to describe a fridge doing its job of keeping things cool. The buy in is when you answer, “yes, my fridge is running.” Because you have a fridge, and it’s literally right there, you can hear the hum, the world is as it should be

then you get a punchline -“Well maybe you should go CATCH IT!”, where the assumptions you have BREAK DOWN and they don’t WORK for the new information. Running means, literally fucking running behind a fridge that is trying to escape, and you LAUGH, because your assumptions about the world were wrong, but not in a way that is so weird or scary that you can’t recognize it or handle it. The jokes means that you make an assumption, then your assumption is wrong, but the world is still recognizable.

in film, that means you have to spend time on FIRST the setup and get the audience to buy into it, and THEN you have to give them an understandable punchline that COMMENTS on the set of assumptions you, the audience, had, and how those assumptions were off!

If the punchline doesn’t break the script of the set up, then it’s not usually funny -”Is you fridge running” “yes” “Ok, just checking” - that’s just a conversation, the script doesn’t break, the assumptions were correct and you don’t, generally, laugh

If the punchline to that joke were changed to something nonsensical or random, then it wouldn’t be FUNNY. “Is your refrigerator running?” “yes” “well then you’re a whore” IS NOT FUNNY BECAUSE THE PUNCHLINE DOESN’T CONNECT TO THE SETUP. (Well, I mean, this example I made is funny *to me* because I just spent too much time thinking about it, but NORMALLY it would not work because it’s disconnected and weird. unless you’re making a joke about how the fridge-running joke is already so done you expect the punchline, and then it’s META and the rules of comedy still work)

so COMEDY, of all things, needs MORE structure than any other kind of filmmaking, because you need to ESTABLISH ASSUMPTIONS AND THEN BREAK THEM.

ok, need a break?

Good break, moving on to Suicide Squad’s joker.

The Joker, as a character on film, has to be funny to work because the defining characteristic of the Joker is that he doesn’t have morality as the structure of his actions - he has COMEDY.

to riff off the tv series Hannibal, where the two-eyed, Will Graham-hunting, foppish people-eater main character gets told “You no longer have ethical concerns, Hannibal. You have aesthetical ones.”

THAT’S THE JOKER.

when faced with a choice, most people think acting in ways that are moral, that don’t hurt people, that seek good things for themselves but without doing bad things to other people

The Joker, as we see his philosophy in The Killing Joke, approaches the world looking for “How could this be funny?” and then doesn’t place a LIMIT on hurting people to make the joke work.

If an improv group got together and made jokes, they would have moral limits - generally speaking, no one is going to stab someone even if it would be the best punchline to the improvised set up.

But the Joker would. Because he’s seeking not the highest good, the most righteous thing, or even the thing most beneficial to himself, he’s LOOKING FOR THE BEST JOKE.

which is why we like him - his brain is NUTS because he doesn’t limit himself, but the joke is recognizable. The Joker HAS TO KNOW how to put together a good set up and then a good punchline, one that people can recognize, because that’s what comedy is.

So a viable Joker has to have more structure than most villains in films, because you can’t have a joke if you don’t buy in, and buy in takes time, and then the joke has to be funny enough that we momentarily forget that someone just got murdered for the punchline - like when Ledger’s joker stabbed that guy in the eye with a pencil and acted like it was a MAGIC TRICK, because, look! I made the pencil disappear - INTO THIS GUY’S SKULL

so, SUICIDE SQUAD. a movie which I mostly enjoyed, but, here’s what’s true - the Joker’s NOT FUNNY.

Good versions of the Joker have to make you laugh, even as you squirm, and Leto’s just *doesn’t*. He seems to be taking the most noticeable parts of Ledger’s performance, WHICH WAS HILARIOUS, and skipping the comedy.

“BUT HE WAS EDITED OUT,” I hear some of you cry.

Which is fair. Editing can kill the funny - it can ruin the set up, it can break the punchline - editing is crucial to humor, because editing is how time in films is constructed, and comedy is all about timing.

but Jared Leto is a high profile actor in a role that is super high profile and he made sure to hype up the performance a lot, so if the movie doesn’t actually contain any examples of leto’s joker being funny, I’m going to have to make an assumption here that the movie is showing us the best they’ve got. like, there was every good external reason to find ways to keep leto in the film, and he’s NOT THERE.

And while i have not watched all the promotional footage of Leto talking about the prep for the role (in which, btw, I think Leto is SUPER FUCKING CREEPY AND UNPROFESSIONAL), there is no mention of humor.

I mean, I could be wrong!

but it doesn’t seem like Leto cared about the Joker being funny. And that’s why his Joker sucks. Because if the JOKER doesn’t care about COMEDY, then he’s not the Joker - he’s a just dude with a dye job.


kitewithfishrebloggedchambergambit



nerdgerhl
I feel like there are probably too many people just scrolling past this so let’s go through everything that’s going on here.

1. With Roger’s voice actor standing off camera, Bob Hoskins acts into empty air and frantically sawing at his handcuff, continually looking up and down at different visual marks of various depths. Look at the slow pan up of his eyes in gif 4, and then the quick shift to his side. Think about how, on set, he was looking at nothing.

2. Starting in gif 2, The box must be made to stop shaking, either by concealed crew member, mechanism, or Hoskins’ own dextrousness, as he is doing all of the things mentioned in point 1.

3. In all gifs, Roger’s handcuff has to be made to move appropriately through a hidden mechanism. (If you watch the 4th gif closely you can see the split second where it is replaced by an animated facsimile of the actual handcuff, but just for barely a second.)

4. The crew voluntarily (we know this because it is now a common internal phrase at Disney for putting in extra work for small but significant reward) decided to make Roger bump the lamp and give the entire scene a constantly moving light source that had to be matched between the on set footage and Roger. This was for two reasons, A) Robert Zemeckis thought it would be funnier, and B) one of the key techniques the crew employed to make the audience instinctively accept that Toons coexisted with the live action environment was constant interaction with it. This is why, other than comedy, Roger is so dang clumsy. Instead of isolating Toons from real objects to make it easier for themselves, the production went out of its way to make Toons interact more with the live action set than even real actors necessarily would, in order to subtly, constantly remind the audience that they have real palpable presence. You can watch the whole scene here, just to see how few shots there are of Roger where he doesn’t interact with a real object.

The crew and animators did all of this with hand drawn cell animation without computerized special effects. 1988, we were still five years out from Jurassic Park, the first movie to make the leap from fully physical creature effects to seamlessly integrating realistic computer generated images with live action footage. Roger’s shadows weren’t done with CGI. Hoskin’s sightlines were not digitally altered. Wires controlling the handcuff were not removed in post.

Who fucking Framed Roger fucking Rabbit, folks. The greatest trick is when people don’t realize you’re tricking them at all.
benpaddon
Let’s also not forget that writing. “Only when it was funny” isn’t just hilarious, it’s great comedy theory. It lampshades the joke, but also serves to remind the viewer that Toons have a separate set of physical laws they adhere to, mostly revolving around comedic value. Roger cannot remove his hand from the cuffs… until it’d get a laugh from an audience.

Everything about this movie, EVERYTHING about it, is so finely crafted. I could wax lyrical about it for days.
metalshadowx
I still need to see this movie.
pinheroooo
It’s seriously one of my favorite movies.
Source:teflonly
294,578 notes

kitewithfish
kitewithfish kitewithfish

kitewithfish
the Joker’s not funny
or, why I’m disappointed with Jared Leto

So the thing about Joker that makes him a hard character to write and portray is not that he’s edgy or violent or somehow more insane than other villains - those are traits that are actually pretty common for villains? Like, willingness to engage in violence is pretty standard, wearing weird clothes for effect is done for most villains, and ‘insanity’ in comic book movies comes in so many flavors and shade that it kind of has no meaning.

what makes joker hard is he has to be fucking funny

and comedy is hard

I’m not trying to simplify this and be insulting - comedy is HARD, because comedy requires structure, and then the interruption of structure. comedy literally requires more time and more buy-in from the audience than making someone evil or scary, it’s literally MORE DIFFICULT to get on film and get it right than drama or scariness or any of the other traits that the Joker should have

Here, have some meta.

the way jokes work is like this:

you have an assumption, and it’s proven wrong.

you have a starting set of assumptions, an idea of the world and how it works and you enter the joke with that and the set up of the joke relies on those assumptions to work - “Is your refrigerator running?” assumes that your audiences knows what a fridge is, understands what it would mean for it to be working properly, and gets that the word ‘running’ is a normal way to describe a fridge doing its job of keeping things cool. The buy in is when you answer, “yes, my fridge is running.” Because you have a fridge, and it’s literally right there, you can hear the hum, the world is as it should be

then you get a punchline -“Well maybe you should go CATCH IT!”, where the assumptions you have BREAK DOWN and they don’t WORK for the new information. Running means, literally fucking running behind a fridge that is trying to escape, and you LAUGH, because your assumptions about the world were wrong, but not in a way that is so weird or scary that you can’t recognize it or handle it. The jokes means that you make an assumption, then your assumption is wrong, but the world is still recognizable.

in film, that means you have to spend time on FIRST the setup and get the audience to buy into it, and THEN you have to give them an understandable punchline that COMMENTS on the set of assumptions you, the audience, had, and how those assumptions were off!

If the punchline doesn’t break the script of the set up, then it’s not usually funny -”Is you fridge running” “yes” “Ok, just checking” - that’s just a conversation, the script doesn’t break, the assumptions were correct and you don’t, generally, laugh

If the punchline to that joke were changed to something nonsensical or random, then it wouldn’t be FUNNY. “Is your refrigerator running?” “yes” “well then you’re a whore” IS NOT FUNNY BECAUSE THE PUNCHLINE DOESN’T CONNECT TO THE SETUP. (Well, I mean, this example I made is funny *to me* because I just spent too much time thinking about it, but NORMALLY it would not work because it’s disconnected and weird. unless you’re making a joke about how the fridge-running joke is already so done you expect the punchline, and then it’s META and the rules of comedy still work)

so COMEDY, of all things, needs MORE structure than any other kind of filmmaking, because you need to ESTABLISH ASSUMPTIONS AND THEN BREAK THEM.

ok, need a break?

Good break, moving on to Suicide Squad’s joker.

The Joker, as a character on film, has to be funny to work because the defining characteristic of the Joker is that he doesn’t have morality as the structure of his actions - he has COMEDY.

to riff off the tv series Hannibal, where the two-eyed, Will Graham-hunting, foppish people-eater main character gets told “You no longer have ethical concerns, Hannibal. You have aesthetical ones.”

THAT’S THE JOKER.

when faced with a choice, most people think acting in ways that are moral, that don’t hurt people, that seek good things for themselves but without doing bad things to other people

The Joker, as we see his philosophy in The Killing Joke, approaches the world looking for “How could this be funny?” and then doesn’t place a LIMIT on hurting people to make the joke work.

If an improv group got together and made jokes, they would have moral limits - generally speaking, no one is going to stab someone even if it would be the best punchline to the improvised set up.

But the Joker would. Because he’s seeking not the highest good, the most righteous thing, or even the thing most beneficial to himself, he’s LOOKING FOR THE BEST JOKE.

which is why we like him - his brain is NUTS because he doesn’t limit himself, but the joke is recognizable. The Joker HAS TO KNOW how to put together a good set up and then a good punchline, one that people can recognize, because that’s what comedy is.

So a viable Joker has to have more structure than most villains in films, because you can’t have a joke if you don’t buy in, and buy in takes time, and then the joke has to be funny enough that we momentarily forget that someone just got murdered for the punchline - like when Ledger’s joker stabbed that guy in the eye with a pencil and acted like it was a MAGIC TRICK, because, look! I made the pencil disappear - INTO THIS GUY’S SKULL

so, SUICIDE SQUAD. a movie which I mostly enjoyed, but, here’s what’s true - the Joker’s NOT FUNNY.

Good versions of the Joker have to make you laugh, even as you squirm, and Leto’s just *doesn’t*. He seems to be taking the most noticeable parts of Ledger’s performance, WHICH WAS HILARIOUS, and skipping the comedy.

“BUT HE WAS EDITED OUT,” I hear some of you cry.

Which is fair. Editing can kill the funny - it can ruin the set up, it can break the punchline - editing is crucial to humor, because editing is how time in films is constructed, and comedy is all about timing.

but Jared Leto is a high profile actor in a role that is super high profile and he made sure to hype up the performance a lot, so if the movie doesn’t actually contain any examples of leto’s joker being funny, I’m going to have to make an assumption here that the movie is showing us the best they’ve got. like, there was every good external reason to find ways to keep leto in the film, and he’s NOT THERE.

And while i have not watched all the promotional footage of Leto talking about the prep for the role (in which, btw, I think Leto is SUPER FUCKING CREEPY AND UNPROFESSIONAL), there is no mention of humor.

I mean, I could be wrong!

but it doesn’t seem like Leto cared about the Joker being funny. And that’s why his Joker sucks. Because if the JOKER doesn’t care about COMEDY, then he’s not the Joker - he’s a just dude with a dye job.

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