Despite the reaction, this scene is really no laughing matter.
It’s the movie that everybody is still talking about!
Comic-book movies have been the big trend in blockbuster cinema for so long now, while the MCU has long reigned supreme. Since 2008’s Iron Man, Marvel outings have grown more ambitious, diverse and lauded as they have gone on, with this year’s Avengers: Endgame offering fans a culmination of over a decade of interweaved storytelling.
However, if you were to ask everybody what the best comic-book movie ever made is, chances are the majority vote would be in favour of Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight. The 2008 epic has towered over subsequent DC movie efforts, with later films failing to strike the perfectly dark tone which Nolan nailed brilliantly.
Such blockbusters as Aquaman and Shazam! have been far lighter in tone, but DC has finally offered us a film which can be mentioned in the same breath as The Dark Knight. Todd Phillips’ Joker is unsettling, expertly performed and actually quite groundbreaking in a sense. It’s been hailed as a masterpiece and swamped with controversy equally, and as more flock to see it, more issues and discussions continue to surface.
Joker: Door lock scene
“Why are they laughing?” you may have asked yourself as the scene played out. Of course, we’re talking about the door lock scene.
After Arthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix) brutally murders one of his former colleagues in front of another (Gary, played by Leigh Gill), we suddenly fear for his safety. Will he kill Gary? No, he tells him that he can leave as he’s shaken with fear, but tragically, he cannot reach the door lock to flee to freedom.
We think that Arthur may simply decide to kill him, but he tells his old colleague that he was the only one that was ever nice to him – it’s almost a tender thankyou, but one riddled with tension. Arthur unlocks the door and Gary leaves.
In many cinema screenings, the audience erupted into laughter at the man’s inability to open the door, and while it can be considered darkly ironic (Todd did helm The Hangover trilogy after all) it’s not exactly easy to find very funny, and the common reaction to the scene has caused some controversy… yes, more.
Even been in worst trouble?
Remember this man & Joker’s door lock moment.. pic.twitter.com/o5TS2OlBMk
— Ommi Gangawane (@ohhh_mii) October 11, 2019
An intriguing reaction…
We live in an age of memes; you name it, it can be morphed into a meme.
Since Joker’s release, we’ve seen “name a more iconic duo” memes and beyond showing a picture of Gary next to a lock. Personally, the door lock scene raised the biggest laugh from the audience across the film, and it’s likely many will relate.
It’s reasonable to question that those who are turning the scene into far more of a joke than it is are missing the point. The scene is visceral in its depiction of violence, and Gary – much like Joker – is an outcast, who has managed to stay friendly to those around him despite his treatment in the workplace. You get the sense that he has his own tragic story that we never fall witness to.
Honestly, the most disturbing part of seeing Joker today was how hard the lady in front of us laughed when Leigh Gill (the actor playing Gary) couldn’t reach to unlock the apartment door.
— Grace Novak (@GraceNovakTV) October 5, 2019
The scene in which we fear for Gary’s life is incredibly distressing because as Arthur asserts, he’s the only one that was nice to him in a world of zero empathy.
We feel bad for the protagonist throughout the film, particularly as the story begins when he is beaten while at work, which triggers a further downward spiral. Both of these men have ridicule in common, but we shouldn’t laugh at the situations these characters are damningly placed in. When Gary is forced to consider a gory fate, we should feel sorry for him, rather than laugh at the cruel circumstances he is facing.
The moment reflects and highlights how immobilized people like Arthur and Gary are by their surroundings. The city isn’t a home for them, but a series of obstacles which they cannot overcome without the help of others. Arthur offers Gary that help, but for him, it’s already too late.