Sunday, September 23, 2018

That Joker Isn't Funny Anymore

Well, Secret Sun September may be winding down now but it seems it still has a few surprises left for us. The latest is the release of makeup tests for the new Joker standalone movie, which will be starring Joaquin Phoenix in the titular role.

Hey, Cesar Romero, Jack Nicholson, Heath Ledger, Jared Leto? It's only logical that Phoenix would land the iconic role, right? I mean, who else would you expect, right?

It's all the more logical if you're a diehard Secret Sun reader....

...because the set photos reveal a Killing Joke connection.

It's not just me being a KJ fanboy, either. It's all over the geek news.

See what I mean? 

Interesting that this month kicked off with Killing Joke's 40th Anniversary Tour (no, seriously--kill me) and just happened to have another longtime Secret Sun hobby horse pop up two days after the Jokers kicked off their tour in Seattle. And sure enough, the diva had no sooner left the stage than blue hell broke out all over the world. 


You see, if you really asked me to boil down all this madness in terms the layman might understand, I'd dip into the realm of physics for my allegories. It's like, over the years I've been staring at these particles, right? 

But then I notice all this spooky action at a distance, these strange attractions

So then I'm like, wait; that's not a particle, it's a wave.

Or more accurately that particle is also a wave. So I guess it's a kind of memetic photon. Or light quanta. You know what I mean. 

I mean, I don't. I just hope you do.

And it's kind of like what Stanton Friedman said comparing isotopes and flying saucers. He always said he didn't need to prove that all isotopes were fissionable, he only needed to prove that plutonium and uranium are.

So basically, what I'm trying to say is that I've spent my life looking at these weird particles that everything thinks are just particles and I'm saying, wait, I think they're also waves. They tend to escape their station and start bouncing all over the place, exciting all sorts of other particles and kicking up weird waves that make all kinds of big things happen.


So to speak more plainly, for me it's like, hey, look at this particular artist. You might think they're not terribly important, and have no interest in their work. But what I'm actually trying to tell you is it's not about the art for art's sake, it's about the art as an attractor.

An attractor that behaves in way that art is generally not supposed to. But having done the equations for x many years, I've been able to repeat the experiments. 

So when I say, hey, you see that weird old comic book artist there? The one who made everything look square and clunky? Well, don't be deceived by appearances. He was a conduit for forces --waves, if you like-- far beyond our ken and his fevered visions are going to have a profound impact on the culture. I said as much over a decade ago. 

And here we are.

Or when I say, hey, see that little Scottish lady there who used to be in that weird 80s haircut band? Don't be deceived by appearances. Because some other force-- and a fairly primeval force at that-- seems to have piggy-backed onto her and used her as some kind of channel. 

Or wave.

We can trace the cause and effect over and over and over. She comes around and throws some cryptic riddle out there and next thing you know the levee's breaking.

Or when I say, hey, you know that weird industrial metal band that all the guys in your favorite bands say are their favorite band? Yeah, well, third verse, same as the first. 

Wait, wait, hold on, hold on; you're all talking at once. 

OK, so what's that you're trying saying to say? "You fucking idiot, they're talking about Batman: The Killing Joke, the Alan Moore/Brian Bolland graphic novel from 1988?"

Oh. I see.

I guess you all forgot what I just told you about particles and waves already.

Because Batman: The Killing Joke, 1989 Batmania, 2008 Dark Knight-mania? None of it, not a scrap of it, would ever have happened without Killing Joke, the band.


And now it seems someone involved in this movie makes to make sure you realize this by casting the one major actor they could find that looks the most like Jeremy "Jaz" Coleman, the lead singer and guiding force of Killing Joke. 

And then had hair and makeup do their darndest to deepen the resemblance. 

You see, Alan Moore, who recreated the Joker and wrote the graphic novel that was allegedly the primary influence on Heath Ledger's portrayal of the character, ran in adjacent circles to Killing Joke the band back in the 1980s. The nexus of underground and marginal pop art, alt.rockers, chaos magicians, sex kinks, drug freaks, etc.

It wasn't long after The Killing Joke that Moore himself would make the fateful decision to adopt a worldview identical to that of the band whose name he filched and the rest, of course, is history.

I mean, come on. The most iconic image from Batman: The Killing Joke is "inspired" from the album cover of Killing Joke's 1985 UK Top 20 album, Night Time.

And jeez, call your trademark lawyer, Jaz. Or at least call your next album, "Batman."

And it's pretty clear that the cover of the graphic novel was "inspired" by the cover of BM:TKJ.  Just look at the layout. They even used a similar sans-serif font.

Take my word for it, comic book covers in 1988 weren't exactly using a lot of Helvetica Neue. If you know what I mean.

And I'm telling you now, these producers here are playing with fire.

Jaz Coleman isn't just the singer of some old rock band, he's also a conductor and arranger plugged into the classical glitterati. He has worked with people like Sarah Brightman and Nigel Kennedy, as well as composing the symphonic adaptions of Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin.

More importantly, though, Coleman is a highly-accomplished occultist who doesn't really appreciate when multinational conglomerates start poaching on his land. Especially since pretty much every lyric he writes is about how much he hates multinational conglomerates.

I mean, we've been down this road before, haven't we?

The Dark Knight's radical new reinterpretation of the Joker really wasn't especially radical or new if you ever watched the video for "Hosannas from the Basements of Hell," the title track for the 2006 KJ album.

It's just that hundreds of millions of people around the world didn't. Watch that video, I mean.

In fact, Ledger's whole Oscar-winning act was pretty much lifted wholesale from Coleman's onstage persona. Only Jaz Coleman is scarier and crazier than every Joker ever, multiplied to the fourth power. 

We're talking about a guy who used to mail animal organs stabbed with nails to critics who slagged him off. Real-life Joker stuff.

And Jaz was doing the lipstick smile 25 years before Heath Ledger tried it.

Incidentally that drummer on "Wardance"? Ben Calvert? He's a dead ringer for Tom Brady. Like brewed-from-the-same-batch dead ringer. Brrr.

And there's plenty more "tributes" where those come from.

I gotta be honest, I'm not overly optimistic what might come out of all this. The last guy who ripped Jaz Coleman off was Heath Ledger and well, you know how that went.

On the other hand, DC/WB made tens of billions off ripping off Jaz Coleman the last time, so why fold a winning hand, right?

Someone just throw a circle of protection around Phoenix, though. As much as I love Jaz's music, I wouldn't ask him to walk my dogs while I was on vacation. And certainly not if he thought I'd cheated him at Magic: The Gathering the other night. 

Metaphorically-speaking, of course.

Conrad Veidt, in the 1928 silent film The Man Who Laughs

You see, it's very well known in comics circles that Batman and Superman are both the legacies of theft, betrayal and deception. 

You've probably heard about the so-called "Curse of Superman" that creator Jerry Siegel (who I have reason to believe was also versed in the occult) was said to unleash on the people who chiseled him out of his creation. 

But you may not have heard that Superman co-creator Joe Shuster was working as a street courier when DC were raking in millions off his work. Former DC editor-in-chief Carmine Infantino even went so far to have Shuster physically thrown out of the building DC had a couple measly floors in when the former DC star was there delivering a package to another client.

Shuster was legally blind at the time and was unable to work as an artist anymore.

1933 illustration of pulp superhero The Black Bat

Comics historian Marc Tyler Nobleman has done much to prove that so-called Batman "creator" Bob Kane pretty much did jackshit but cash the checks while his peons Bill Finger and Jerry Robinson did all the work on the strip. And even they swiped pretty much every scrap of the Batman from the pulps. Kane was just lucky that he was as sleazy as the people trying to screw him.

Juggalo Jaz Coleman, 1984

Most importantly, Jaz Coleman was doing the psychotic clown thing well before Batman: The Killing Joke, or The Dark Knight Returns, for that matter. At the time, the Joker was, well, a joke. A bad joke. Batman comics were depicting him as a giant Jack-in-the-Box or riding Joker choo-choo trains. And more besides.

Believe me: no one saw that corny shit and said, man, I just gotta be a real-life Joker.

When the Joker was putting around in choo-choo trains, Coleman and Coles were using the Jester image in the context of deeply-disturbing, deeply resonant surreal nightmare imagery, and that's an entirely different animal than Joker killing civilians with his Joker-fish pistols. 

Context. Attractors. Waves. Other physics terms I don't understand.

1979 debut single 

It's more than arguable that Jaz Coleman and Killing Joke house artist Mike Coles are the true creator of the modern evil-clown/Joker archetype as we understand it. 

Well, sure, you had John Wayne Gacy, but that's quite a bit different, and that didn't really become a thing until Gacy started selling his clown paintings in the 80s. 

But Pennywise, Insane Clown Posse and the real-life Jokers like James Holmes can indeed be traced and/or blamed on that unbelievably potent imagery that traveled along Killing Joke's unbelievably potent music. Change my mind.

Mike Coles is a fucking genius.

So, is that a good thing or a bad thing? Well, it's all down to context. You can use that machete to clear brush and reduce dangerous pests like mosquitoes or you can use it to cut someone's head off. It's all how you use it.

Personally, I think some memes--or waves-- are best left in the laboratory where they can be studied by experts, to coin another analogy. Some waves a bit too potent for general distribution, especially since they can be mutated and weaponized into pathogens, to mix a few metaphors for you there.

Killing Joke were never going to escape into the larger population because they were/are too weird, insane and disturbing, but their copyists have raked in millions, not the least of which is Marilyn Manson. 

Plus, not to tell tales out of school, but Jaz openly hates America and I think he might hate a lot of Americans as well. Limits your marketing options.

Plus, no radio station, even satellite or Internet-based, is ever going to put songs like this into rotation. No matter how much Dave Grohl says he loves those guys.