Joker isn't about anarchy, sexually frustrated incels, trying to rile up the masses or delivering a seething damnation on the treatment of mental illness in the current age. No, it's a far simpler film; one indicative of a mindset shared by Joker himself. It's about comedy, and the role of it in our society, as well as a city as rundown and destitute as Gotham.
To put it plainly and get to the heart of this reading of the movie, I'll ask one timeless, always polarising question:
Is there anything you shouldn't joke about?
That question and its myriad answers are at the heart of Joker, and once you delve into everything from Todd Philips comments on why he made the movie, to Joaquin Phoenix's relationship to the media, to literally the point of various scenes, you'll see it can apply far better than any wider, politicised reading of the text overall.
Because for as much as Philips and Scott Silver's script succeeds in creating a motivated nihilist devoid of rationale behind his chaotic actions, it completely fails at addressing issues with severe mental health outside of a surface level reading.
"Don't be mean to people suffering from mental health conditions! Don't cut funding, and don't let society fall to a point where a deranged individual could be the catalyst behind a full hierarchal insurrection!"
So far, so obvious, to the point of prompting me to look elsewhere. In fact, after thinking on it for some time, I don't think this is what the film was going for in the first place.