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Joker

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Note: Contains Spoilers

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One of the great things about Heath Ledger’s Joker in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight is that he does not have an origin story. Or, actually, he tells two contradictory origin stories, neither of them probably true. But the police can’t find a single shred of information on his real identity: who he was, where he came from, and how he got those scars.

Todd Phillips’ much-anticipated new film Joker is an origin story starring Joaquin Phoenix as Arthur Fleck, who becomes the Joker. Frankly, both of Ledger’s origin stories are more interesting.

The question on everybody’s mind is: How does Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker compare to Heath Ledger’s? The answer is: There is no comparison. Phoenix’s Joker isn’t even as good as Jared Leto’s in Suicide Squad. There is no question that Phoenix is a fine actor, but the character he brings to life simply isn’t compelling. He’s just a repulsive loser.

Traditionally, the character of the Joker has drawn upon the Romantic idea that madness can be entwined with genius, charisma, psychological depth, and creativity. Phoenix’s Joker is much closer to the sad truth: The vast majority of crazy people are not deep, creative, or interesting. They are just pathetic, shambling, vacant defectives who repeatedly betray and disappoint the people who are unfortunate enough to love or take care of them.

Ledger’s Joker has a Nietzschean and Heideggerian philosophy, which he articulates with striking words and deeds. Phoenix’s Joker doesn’t have a nihilistic philosophy. He’s just a depressive. When we first see him, he is holding a sign reading “Everything Must Go.” Yeah, it’s for a going out of business sale, but it’s also symbolic. Phoenix’s Joker does not “stand for” nihilism as a worldview. As he says later on, he doesn’t stand for anything. He has no worldview. He’s just a tortured soul, and a banal one at that.

All the other Jokers—Ledger, Leto, Nicholson, even Cesar Romero, ferchrissakes—have some charisma. They are commanding presences. Phoenix’s Joker has no charisma at all. He’s a physically repulsive stick insect of a man: unkempt, unhealthy, and slightly effeminate, reeking of cigarettes and low self-esteem. You’d want to squash him like a bug, if you’d deign to notice him at all.

There are a few flashes of a steely-eyed social competence when Arthur rehearses his appearance on the Murray Franklin Show, but it went nowhere, so it struck me as breaking character.

Ledger’s Joker launched a million memes, both because of his character and his lines. Phoenix’s Joker will have no such influence. He’s a pathetic nobody with nothing to say.

Judging from the technology and social trends, Joker is set in the early 1980s: There are no desktop computers or cell phones. Dem programs are being cut for the mentally ill, and drunken Wall Street yupsters are an annoyance on the subway.

Arthur Fleck lives with his mother Penny Fleck, who seems to be bedridden. Arthur brings in money as a clown, but he’s not that funny. Arthur suffers from mental health problems. He has been committed, he sees a counselor, and he is taking seven different medications. But because of budget cuts, the counselor and drugs are disappearing, and commitment will probably not be an option either. Soon there will be only the street.

Arthur is beaten up by some “teens” (read: brown people) so one of his colleagues at the clown agency (surely there must be clown agencies, right?) gives him a revolver for protection. When the gun falls on the floor during one of Arthur’s clown shows in a children’s cancer ward, he is fired.

Then, still wearing his clown makeup, Arthur is roughed up by some black hoodlums on a night train, pulls out his gun, and shoots them dead. No, wait, that was Bernhard Goetz. Arthur was harassed by Wall Street yuppies and shoots three Patrick Batemans dead with seven bullets from what appears to be a .22 pistol (but who’s counting?).

This inspires a Leftist uprising of black and brown people—and some white dirtbags—who begin to wear clown masks to show how sick and tired they are of being terrorized by stockbrokers on the subway.

Oh, and billionaire Thomas Wayne (Brett Cullen), who is going to run for Mayor of Gotham, says that people like him, who have made something of their lives, think that all of life’s losers look like clowns. Of course there is only one politician in America today who would say something so unpolitic. Is he supposed to be Donald Trump?

At this point, given the obvious anti-white, Bolshevik slant here, perhaps I should mention that director Todd Phillips and his co-screenwriter Scott Silver are both Jewish. However, to their credit, the entire film is not cast against type. Arthur is first assaulted by non-whites, and sullen black women play prominent unsympathetic roles, subtly underscoring that Arthur’s alienation is in part that of a poor white man in a society in which the lower classes and those who provide services to them are increasingly non-white.

As much as I feared that Arthur Fleck was going to be turned into a sympathetic victim, it is really impossible to like him. When Arthur learns that his mother believes Thomas Wayne is his father, he goes to the Wayne estate to talk to Thomas Wayne and ends up physically assaulting Alfred Pennyworth in front of young Bruce Wayne.

Then he stalks and confronts Thomas Wayne. Wayne explains that he never had sex with Penny Fleck, that Arthur was in any case adopted, and that she was committed to Arkham State Hospital for mental illness and also for endangering Arthur. When Arthur steals his mother’s file from Arkham and confirms Wayne’s story, he does not apologize to Wayne. Instead he smothers his mother with a pillow.

Arthur also savagely murders the colleague who gave him the gun. I found this scene so distasteful that I almost walked out. But then I thought of my duty to you, dear reader, and stayed to the end.

One of the obvious influences on Joker is Martin Scorsese’s The King of Comedy (1983), a dark comic masterpiece that almost reaches Fawlty Towers levels of pure cringe. Robert De Niro plays Rupert Pupkin, a deranged man who wants to be a standup comic and is obsessed with successful comedian and talk-show host Jerry Langford (brilliantly played by Jerry Lewis).

Like Rupert, Arthur lives with his mother (although there is some suggestion that Rupert’s mother is dead and that, like Norman Bates, he has only an imaginary relationship with her).

Both Rupert and Arthur have imaginary relationships with talk-show hosts whom they eventually meet in real life. In Arthur’s case the host is Murray Franklin who, to tighten the connection between the films, is played by Robert De Niro.

Yet another connection is that both Rupert and Arthur have black romantic interests. When white men date non-whites, the natural presumption is that they are dating down out of insecurity, which makes sense given that both characters are losers. (In De Niro’s case, he actually had a child with Diahnne Abbot, the actress who plays his love interest. De Niro has fathered five children with three black women. One could be considered an accident, etc.) In Arthur’s case, his relationship with his neighbor, single mother Sophie Dumond, is imaginary.

Both movies also have a cartoonish scene in which we see Rupert and Arthur from a distance chased back and forth by security personnel.

The climax of Joker is when Murray Franklin invites Arthur on his show. At this point, Arthur is wearing clown makeup and wishes to be introduced simply as “Joker.” This is Arthur’s big break, but he is not interested in actually entertaining anyone. In truth, he lacks both the talent and the interest. Arthur’s laughter is merely a syndrome, a mechanical tic, unconnected to a sense of humor. The only laughs he gets on the show are by being socially awkward.

Arthur is entirely absorbed in self-pity. He confesses to killing the three yuppies, and claims to find it funny. Murray Franklin is appalled but challenges him to defend himself. Heath Ledger’s Joker could have said something interesting and plausible. But this Joker has only inarticulate bitterness and rage. Then he shoots Franklin in the head and shambles away, allowing himself to be taken into custody.

The dénouement of the film takes place in the immediate aftermath of the Joker’s arrest. The Leftist clown mask protests have turned into city-wide rioting. The police car transporting the Joker to jail is rammed by an ambulance driven by a clown protester. The injured Joker is lifted from the back seat and laid on the hood of the police car in a pose clearly drawn from Andrea Mantegna’s The Dead Christ and Three Mourners. Then the Joker/Christ regains consciousness/resurrects, stands up on the hood of the car, and draws a smile on his face with his own blood to the acclaim of the crowd. Our savior.

The movie ends, however, with the Joker in Arkham, explaining himself to another unsympathetic black social worker, then dancing down a sterile hallway, leaving bloody footprints, followed in cartoonish pursuit by orderlies.

But the last half of the movie might actually be one of Arthur’s fantasies, because at one point, Arthur empties out his mother’s refrigerator, climbs inside, and closes the door. Can people open refrigerators from the inside? Is the whole latter half of the movie a dying man’s fantasy? Is this another giant jerk-job like Lost? Is the joke on us, the audience?

I pray there is no sequel.

As a purely technical achievement, I would rate Joker 9/10. It is well-acted, well-directed, and well-paced. The urban settings are utterly hellish. The music by Icelandic composer Hildur Guðnadóttir is highly effective.

But as a compelling story, I would rate Joker 6/10. What is this movie, exactly? It is no superhero or supervillain movie in any conventional sense. Nor it is an unconventional one like M. Night Shyamalan’s Unbreakable. Is it supposed to be a psychological thriller? If so, it is not thrilling. Is it supposed to be a dark comedy? It is not that funny. Is it supposed to be social satire? If so, it is entirely lame and conventional.

The simple truth is that Joker is a boring movie about a disgusting loser. Although there’s no accounting for taste or madness, I think those who fear Joker will incite incels to go on shooting sprees are wrong. I’m betting that the most savage thing Joker inspires is this review.

Source: https://www.unz.com/tlynch/joker/

35 Comments

  1. NoName
    Posted October 26, 2019 at 10:18 am | Permalink

    So no one is going to say that Thomas Wayne neglected his own son and fake the whole adoption thing? a poor woman with mental illness could have never been considered a fitting option to adopt a child, especially at that time.

    Arthur is just a man that could have been a brilliant rich man, perhaps even more than his half-brother Bruce, if his father had at least provided proper care for him, instead he was abandoned and abused by his mother’s boyfriend as a child, getting a head trauma that resulted in his mental illness.

    Thomas Wayne created the problem that eventually punished the social class that he reppresents.

    • Greg Johnson
      Posted October 26, 2019 at 10:48 am | Permalink

      I don’t buy this theory.

      • NoName
        Posted October 26, 2019 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

        You have to at least consider it, Thomas Wayne was an asshole, we can clearly see that. I can perfectly see him sleeping with Penny just for some sexual relief. As a millionaire playboy is not that far-fetched. He behaved crudely when meeting Arthur and then proceed to punch him in the face..
        And then there’s the picture he found that says “I love the way you smile – T.W”

        There’s no actual reason to believe she was lying, even if Penny became a sickly woman in her final stages of life is due to the hardships that she had to endure.

        Even if you entertain the idea that she was lying… Thomas Wayne still remains an asshole, the least thing he could do was to reply back just out of respect to someone that used to be your worker.

  2. WWWM
    Posted October 24, 2019 at 1:34 am | Permalink

    Tell us how you really feel. I think part of the popularity of Joker is that it is not the Superhero amusement park ride that we have been seeing. There aren’t that many movies anymore that are character development through the majority of the film. The writing is clearly standard Marxist, left-wing for the Bernie crowd. However, Fleck being a white loser-in-life misused by non-whites, and the lonely urban environment is prominent in the movie. This is what appeals to an Alt-Right view, but this I think it is an accident. Nowadays Hollywood hires so many black actors and they just happen to fill the roles of the mental health front-line people. The message becomes white people needing help are most certainly not going to receive it from people who aren’t our own. I do not think the filmmakers realized that idea would be so obvious.

    There is a visceral reason regular white people do not want universal healthcare in multicultural America. It has to do with races put together in the same place do not make a nation. This accidental message is why I like the movie.

  3. Ericthered
    Posted October 20, 2019 at 7:42 pm | Permalink

    I watched the movie today and read this review afterwards. I have to say I said 80% of what you wrote to my girlfriend on the ride home watching this poor attempt of an appealing film. There were some parts I enjoyed including the soundtrack but that is it. There is nothing to really like about Arthur except the acting was really good. It is very cliche and joker comes across more pretentious than interesting. We have to look at this as just a fictional story and in the end it falls short of being anything but below average entertainment.

  4. Richard
    Posted October 14, 2019 at 8:48 pm | Permalink

    The Dailystormer highly recommends this movie and rated it a 10/10. Nonetheless, I have no desire to watch this pathetic film as I don’t support anything that comes out of modern Hollywood. I urge everyone here to not support Hollywood under any circumstances. Supporting Hollywood is equivalent to supporting degeneracy — which leads to societal decay.

  5. Hubert Collins
    Posted October 14, 2019 at 7:05 pm | Permalink

    I really think this movie just caught you at a bad time. Try and push it out of your mind and then watch it again in two years. I suspect you’ll feel differently about it next time.

    • Greg Johnson
      Posted October 15, 2019 at 12:31 am | Permalink

      Life’s too short.

  6. The Zoomer Youth
    Posted October 14, 2019 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

    Why are people over 30 incapable of understanding this movie? It makes you look out of touch when you just make no effort to understand why the right wing zoomer youth loves this movie. You also call Arthur a hopeless loser, when his life is looking increasingly familiar to many low status white men in america. Not a great look for someone claiming to be pro-white, in fact it makes you look like an elitist prick.

    • Greg Johnson
      Posted October 14, 2019 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

      Unless the whole zoomer generation consists of psychotics off their meds, then they really ahould resent the Alt Right trying to meme this turd of a movie into some sort of defining moment.

      • Zoomer Youth
        Posted October 14, 2019 at 8:31 pm | Permalink

        The Joker is a hyperbolic portrayal of a real phenomenon. No, most Zoomers aren’t psychotics off their meds, but they are to a large extent raised by single mothers without any connection to community or strong moral foundation. The Joker shows the ultimate expression of this situation.

        I’d point to the Taxi Driver as an (admittedly higher quality) example of this. Are we wrong to identify with him too, just because he, too, is a mentally ill incel “loser” who goes violent?

        • Greg Johnson
          Posted October 15, 2019 at 12:29 am | Permalink

          Is Travis Bickle insane or merely alienated? Is he perhaps a normal man transported int0 abnormal times? There is depth and greatness to Taxi Driver. There is none to Joker.

  7. Carl
    Posted October 10, 2019 at 6:53 am | Permalink

    Not sure you could misread a film more badly than this.

  8. AE
    Posted October 8, 2019 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

    When Arthur steals his mother’s file from Arkham and confirms Wayne’s story…

    When Arthur was in his mother’s room after killing her we were shown a photograph on the back of which was written something like “I love the way you smile — T.W.” That, coupled with some other clues, such as a poor single woman being able to adopt in the 40s or 50s, surely leaves the whole matter ambiguous.

  9. Posted October 8, 2019 at 7:47 am | Permalink

    This is an extremely cold take on this movie, and really smacks of a cold sort of elitism that I can’t identify with. I appreciate and understand hierarchy and I’m averse to egalitarianism, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t empathize with people who are born into circumstances that damage them emotionally. To me, that is the meat and potatoes of nationalism… the desire to make society more homogenous and less diverse, so that the negative consequences of disenfranchisement and alienation are lessened, and so that fewer children are raised in harmful environments by people who are ill equipped to raise children.

    I see that the article was originally published by Unz, and I appreciate Greg Johnson for publishing material that reflects diverse opinions rather than echo chamber material.

    Here is another take from another nationalist blog that might be of interest.

    https://identitydixie.com/2019/10/07/joker/

  10. A mentally white man
    Posted October 7, 2019 at 10:40 pm | Permalink

    Arthur was a good boy. Tried his best at life despite the shit hand he was dealt. Took care of his ailing mother, tried his absolute best at his job. The most endearing scene was him putting on his clown performance for the children at the cancer ward, trying his absolute darndest to bring a sliver of joy to those who nature screwed over even more than him.

    I think everyone hates this film if only because how candidly it portrays genuine mental illness. Arthur Fleck is definitely a sympathetic figure. Far more sympathetic than the inner city negro youth who are often showered with sympathy, both from the left and the right.

    Communists always talk of how fascism is nothing more than the bourgeoisie sharpening their fangs as capitalism starts to decline and after reading this article I am quite frankly starting to believe them. Too bad all the contemporary Jewish far left hates this film just as much if only because Arthur Fleck was a white male. Oh well.

    • Greg Johnson
      Posted October 8, 2019 at 2:28 am | Permalink

      Keep trying. But I don’t think this movie supports the narratives created by Left and Right before it was released. I agree that many people don’t like this movie because it is a realiatic portrayal of mental illness.

  11. Peter Quint
    Posted October 7, 2019 at 7:09 am | Permalink

    The Joker is an anarchist agent, and the Batman is a fascist agent. I still say that the one actor out there who could replace Ledger, and do a great Joker is Johnny Depp.

    • Annika
      Posted November 9, 2019 at 2:09 am | Permalink

      The joker is definitly not anarcist, he is a nihilist. Believes in nothing and cares about nothing. He is a true millenial. An anarcist needs and desires no goverment. It simply does not mean chaos, it’s just a propaganda thing from the sixties.

      Not sure about why Batman is fascist? Can you write what you mean? And well, Johnny Depp!? That would be surely horrific in all aspects but not in a good way.

  12. TRS Reader 7
    Posted October 7, 2019 at 3:55 am | Permalink

    I’m a pretentious gay white nationalist and I loved Joker. Maybe something is wrong with you?

    • Greg Johnson
      Posted October 7, 2019 at 4:16 am | Permalink

      Many such cases.

    • Annika
      Posted November 9, 2019 at 2:11 am | Permalink

      I’m a heterosexual white woman and…..

      What does preferences in the bedroom has to do with this?

  13. Vauquelin
    Posted October 7, 2019 at 2:29 am | Permalink

    Judging by the early trailers I had a feeling that this was a Neo-Marxist film of the Occupy Wall Street variety advertized as some sort of Alt-Lite exploitation film, and I suppose this seems to be somewhat the case. Only the braindead SJWs seemed to have fallen for the sham advertizing, predictably. Arthur Fleck is the sort of person I imagine when Jonathan Bowden talks about the undesirable maladjusted misanthropes who get lured into Jewish revolutionary schemes and turn against their own country for promises of societal destruction and power. Far from being the white nationalist or Trump supporter the media claimed he would be, Fleck would be more fitting as a dejected post-2016 Bernie Bro. The truth is, some elements in the media were only triggered by this Joker because he is a white vigilante – a person of the wrong race exercising violence.
    I think it would be best if WNs use this character as a warning to normies about the danger of empowering societal rejects and losers through Marxist fantasies.

    • Greg Johnson
      Posted October 7, 2019 at 4:06 am | Permalink

      I agree.

      Generally though if there’s a political message here it is safely centrist: Fund dem programz or there will be Bolsheviks in the streets.

      The underlying worldview is Leftist though. If Arthur is adopted then his mental illness cannot be inherited from his mother. He must have been driven crazy by abuse and an uncaring system, etc etc.

  14. DP84
    Posted October 6, 2019 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

    Good review, and I agree with the sentiments expressed about people like Arthur Fleck being legitimate actual losers as opposed to “lost souls” who were “left behind” by society. I found myself unable to identify with Arthur’s character, and I think it was because I don’t share his social/class background or his life experiences. People like him deserve to get left behind by society, and the true tragedy of this movie is that successful, well-adjusted men like Thomas Wayne insist on trying to love the Arthur Fleck’s of the world and take care of them (to quote the reviewer), and they end up paying for it with their lives.

    Back in the early 20th century, the Eugenics Movement was led by patricians like Madison Grant who basically wanted to remake the White American population in their Middle-Upper Class image. The defects like Arthur would be put in mental asylums and sterilized, while the normal, healthy, well-adjusted people would replenish themselves until eventually everyone was at a bare minimum level of competence. This movie is a good reminder of why they wanted to do that.

    • Steven JW
      Posted October 6, 2019 at 11:49 pm | Permalink

      A very Conservative response….

      • drogger
        Posted October 7, 2019 at 6:02 am | Permalink

        Sadly, we can’t shake this mindset.

  15. Captain John Charity Spring MA
    Posted October 6, 2019 at 11:46 am | Permalink

    This is a movie loosely structured around the Christian Passion play. Indeed it’s really better called The Passion of Arthur Fleck. Every vignette can be closely compared and contrasted to the 12 stations of the cross. The killing in the apartment was the good thief and bad thief. The on screen murder was a cross between the surrealist Jacques Vache, shooting a revolver as the ultimate surrealist act into an audience in a theater and golgotha. The writers inverted christ, very cleverly too.

  16. J
    Posted October 6, 2019 at 11:23 am | Permalink

    Trevor’s not taking the bait.

  17. Steven JW
    Posted October 6, 2019 at 9:17 am | Permalink

    When I heard that this film was an origin story I sighed and remembered the Ledger portrayal for the same reason you did.

    “One of the great things about Heath Ledger’s Joker in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight is that he does not have an origin story. Or, actually, he tells two contradictory origin stories, neither of them probably true.”

    I’m so tired of long-running characters eventually giving an origin story, or flashback, or reasons for deeds. Let the present speak for itself. Ledger’s Joker telling two fictional origin stories was brilliant in that film. It was a beautifully done rejection of such an overused “tool” to give credence to the character’s actions. They’re so much more interesting when you have to imagine their backstory or that it isn’t so black and white.

    Not surprised that he’s roughed up by white yuppies, the polar opposite of reality to try and find some dull middle ground in modern film character representation. I saw a godawful Danny Trejo film “20 Ft Below: The Darkness Descending” about a reporter investigating the seedy New York subway underbelly and they did the same thing; A bunch of white guys rough up some homeless people as if we’re in bizarro world.

    Not surprised about the race/interracial slant either. The “token black” has gone from a joke to a necessary staple in cinema. Coming soon the token interracial couple. Hell, most new white male characters now are some mongrelized man or woman (Adam Driver’s Kylo Ren somehow being the child of Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher).

    You came off a bit harsh on Joker’s circumstances though. This movie is undoubtedly targeting young white males, and a good portion of them have already lost the will to go on given the state of our society and the hatred people have for them. And it will only get worse…. Then again, by now white people should expect this kind of drivel from a couple of Hollywood Jews. It’s madness to expect something different from the same propagandist garbage machine.

    Kudos to you for sitting through this. I certainly wouldn’t have. Now at least I can understand a bit of all this hysteria about the damn thing.

  18. Fritzx
    Posted October 6, 2019 at 7:10 am | Permalink

    Think how far a race repairs could have gone with the typical ghetto clown costume rather than the circus clown aspect.

  19. Vagant Rightist
    Posted October 6, 2019 at 6:30 am | Permalink

    Thanks for this. I’m avoiding this film.

    As soon as the film came out and the fake/bug people sponsored news machine masquerading as ‘grass roots’ youtube channels started churning out reviews deeming it a ‘masterpiece’ I knew it wasn’t. Perhaps some of them wanted it to be. And I could see from the trailer it wasn’t. Phoenix is a good actor…. at playing sick wretched demented types. But as the article states, the Joker is not just a sick wretched demented type, and from the trailer I could see no sign of the Joker at all. If one took away the stuck on references to Gotham, you would just be left with Phoenix playing another sicko, this time in a clown costume. Sure it may be slickly filmed and edited, but who cares ? So are pop videos for black rappers.

    I have this feeling that this ‘masterpiece’ will be mostly forgotten in a year or 2.

    In one way it’s a better direction for DC’s characters, to explore more adult themes. It’s their strength. Marvel’s characters have got a better grip on a younger audience. But there is a cynical money grabbing desperation to the appearance of this film. The Batman vs Superman stuff didn’t work, but if we dig up the edgy Joker again, this time we’ll make some money.

    • Karl N
      Posted October 6, 2019 at 4:38 pm | Permalink

      I’m sure I know some of the YouTube channels you’re talking about. They heard SJWs didn’t like this movie, so they desperately wanted (needed?) it to be good. I’m not sure I really get the SJW hate though. Arthur is far too damaged for any regular person to identify with him. If anything, I think the SJWs should like this for the whole “kill the rich [white man]” thing and because they make someone with mental illness an “other”.

      This movie reminded my wife and I why we never go to see movies.

      • DP84
        Posted October 7, 2019 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

        “They heard SJWs didn’t like this movie, so they desperately wanted (needed?) it to be good.”

        The converse is also true on way too many occasions: SJW’s love a movie – usually one with a “strong” female protagonist – and so the Dissident Right in all its manifestations rejects it out of hand and assumes it must be bad. I was chilling with a WN friend a few months ago, we decided to see what was on Netflix, and to my surprise, he hadn’t seen “The Incredibles 2” yet even though he loved the first one. He said he never had any intention of seeing it because the trailers were hyping up Mrs. Incredible as the lead character. I convinced him to watch it, and sure enough, he enjoyed it. Said it wasn’t nearly as bad as he thought it would be.

        The Right should decide for itself what’s good and bad instead of taking its cues from the lunatics on the SJW Left.

        • Greg Johnson
          Posted October 8, 2019 at 2:22 am | Permalink

          Well said. This is especially the case with the last Mad Max movie.

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