Joaquin Phonix has been doing the rounds promoting The Joker. He is a committed vegan. He has not consumed any animals since he was three years old, and regularly shows his compassion towards animals. He was the face of a PETA “We Are All Animals” billboard campaign which recently adorned Times Square in New York. The poster featured the vegan celebrity actor pictured next to a chicken.
He is well known for his commitment to ending animal cruelty so there is something curiously symbolic about this actor so brilliantly portraying the psychopathic Joker in the newly released film. The film has been widely described as a masterpiece and won the top prize at the Venice Film Festival.
Phoenix resembles a “possessed Marcel Marceau” in portraying how a cruel and uncaring world turns Arthur Fleck, a third rate clown, into Batman’s arch-enemy. It is a powerful study of mental illness as we watch Fleck’s progression “from downtrodden nobody to murderous villain”. Deprived of his pharmaceutical pills, he descends into a barbaric madness. The film is most certainly not for the faint-hearted.
We watch a disturbed character who is treated unkindly at every turn in his life, lurch into a world of insanity and violence. To those humans who do not accept the concept of mankind’s dominion over animals, this is an exact parallel to the way that we treat animals. We treat them as chattels to be routinely treated with contempt regardless of the pain that we cause. They are commodities there just to please our taste buds. They are not sentient beings to whom suffering is caused and who love their babies.
Not being cruel to animals is a daily commitment
In September the actor told Brut Media about why he was a vegan. He has been this way since he was three years old when his siblings and he saw fishes being killed in a violent and aggressive way. It was immediately obvious that this was not something that he could participate in or support. He simply does not want to “cause pain to another living empathic creature“.
He does not want to take animals’ babies away from them as is the norm in the dairy industry. He does not want to force an animal to be indoors to be fattened up and to be killed. “It is absurd and barbaric,” he says.
Eating animals is absurd and barbaric
He does not understand how anybody could witness this and not be affected by it.
“It’s my life, and always has been my life and it’s really one of the most important things for me“.
This is a daily commitment for Phoenix.
During the Toronto International Film Festival on 9th September 2019, the actor took time out from the launch of The Joker, at the invitation of Be Fair Be Vegan to join vegan activists in a protest in the subway.
He also led protests on 2nd June 2019 in Hollywood for National Animal Rights Day. He also narrated Earthlings and is one of the narrators of Dominion, both of which are powerful documentaries about the issues that veganism address.
Vegans cause Cognitive Dissonance
There is cognitive dissonance in the way that we as a society experience in our inability to see the link between what we eat and where it comes from. We love animals and yet we allow factory farming to treat animals with a cruelty that is beyond comprehension in our pursuit of cheap food.
People cannot see this. It was recently exemplified by an exchange on This Morning between Philip Schofield clashed with a guest, Lucy Watson who was a vegan restaurant owner which clearly shows how the treatment of animals in the animal farming industry is largely kept hidden from society.
Watson said that most children would be quite shocked to learn that animals are “brutally slaughtered” for us to eat. Schofield objected to the use of the word “brutal” arguing that it was contentious. “They have their throats slit”. she replied. The presenter said that this is not “common practice”. She contended that it is.
If there was more kindness in the world there would be an energetic shift in the way we humans view animals. If there was less violence in society then quite possibly we would not tolerate the violence towards animals.
“If you take a mentally ill loner and a society that treats him like trash, you get what you deserve,” Fleck told Murray Franklin, the chat show host played by Robert de Niro just before shooting him dead on live television. If we treat animals like trash we get ill and our environment deteriorates.
Joaquin Phonix and Arthur Fleck are a perfect metaphor for this cognitive dissonance.