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'Joker' is the latest case of commerce masquerading as art

(CNN)Defending "Joker" amid pre-release criticism, director Todd Phillips reminded us that art doesn't always make people comfortable."Art isn't safe," he told the Washington Post. "You want a safe art form? Take up calligraphy."But as the film's protagonist might say, who's kidding whom?"Joker" is a work of art in the way any movie is. That said, this isn't some high-minded art-house flick. It's a cash grab by a major studio (in this case, Warner Bros., like CNN, a unit of WarnerMedia), which capitalizes on intellectual property with 80 years of history, catering to a perceived desire among its devoted fanboy base for edgier comic-book-inspired fare.Despite hand-wringing about the movie -- and doubtless in part, because of it -- "Joker" o ...