Podcast – Put On A Happy Face

Todd Phillips’ 2019 film Joker is a comic book superhero film without a superhero. A dark portrayal of mental illness that divided critics. CinePunked’s Robert, Rachael and Ben explore its dark recesses, the evolution of the Joker in the Batman films, issues of gatekeeping, and other problems.

Sleeve notes are below.

With Robert JE Simpson, Dr Rachael Kelly and Ben Simpson

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You can leave your thoughts on the episode via the comments below, or on any of our social media channels, or leave a review on iTunes.

Episode URL: https://player.whooshkaa.com/episode?id=669488

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If you’ve been affected by the issues raised in the programme, please do reach out. There are specialist organisations around the world, you don’t have to be alone.
In Northern Ireland please check out MindWise.
For anyone under 19 in the UK, visit Childline.org.uk or phone them on 0800 1111
If you are in despair, Lifeline is available on 0808 808 8000
The Samaritans are available 24/7 365 days a year on 116 123.
If you are concerned you may hurt yourself or anyone else, please phone the emergency services – 999 in the UK, 911 in the US, and 000 in Australia.



Since lockdown commenced here in Northern Ireland in mid-March, we’ve kept busy, developing projects and revisiting some of our pre-existing recordings. Between that and a series of test sessions, we finally committed our first recording proper of lockdown in early June, setting in place a workflow that is likely to be utilised by us until the end of 2020.

There’s only ten miles between us in distance, but the dynamic changes when we’re not in the same room. Using Zoom (other platforms are available) we were able to both record and see each other as we worked through the session.

Rachael is an unashamed Batman fan. I think its fair to say that while Ben and I are fans of the franchise, we’re a little less zealous. Joker left quite the impact on its release, and we’d already discussed hosting a live event that would allow us to explore the presentation of mental health within the film. With that out the window, it was left to the podcast to host that chat.

There’s a lot to unpick, and listening back, its clear that a number of threads have been left loose. Most glaring of which is the unreliable narrator, the blurring of reality for Arthur Fleck, where his experiences can’t be trusted. What is real and what isn’t. Maybe we’ll do a live stream to follow this up.

Surprisingly we end up discussing gatekeeping – something that’s very familiar to fans of particular genre film and tv series, and something we should probably explore in another post. We saw it happen with Ghostbusters a few years ago and Joker brings the potential to the fore.

This episode has been a test of our new workflow, which we plan to revise over coming weeks. We also recorded the zoom video for potential release.

The episode includes several clips, from :
The Dark Knight (2008), dir. Christopher Nolan. Distributed by Warner Bros
Joker (2019), dir. Todd Phillips. Distributed by Warner Bros.
Trailer for Batman (1966), dir. Leslie H. Martinson. Distributed by Twentieth Century Fox
Doctorin’ the Tardis (1988), by KLF (aka The Timelords).

Recorded remotely in Holywood, Newtownards and Comber, County Down on 3 June 2020.
Engineered and edited by Robert JE Simpson and first published on 7 June 2020.


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