Our View | ‘Joker’ paints disturbing picture of failing to address mental health

“Joker” starring Joaquim Phoenix opened last weekend to record setting box office returns. It depicts a dark picture into how this classic Batman character came to be.

Did the “Joker” shed too much light on the negative side of how society fails to address mental health? Yes, and that’s why it’s so good. 

The film’s synopsis explains, “Forever alone in a crowd, failed comedian Arthur Fleck seeks connection as he walks the streets of Gotham City. Arthur wears two masks—the one he paints for his day job as a clown, and the guise he projects in a futile attempt to feel like he’s part of the world around him. Isolated, bullied and disregarded by society, Fleck begins a slow descent into madness as he transforms into the criminal mastermind known as the Joker.” 

Arthur suffers from a mental illness called Pseudobulbar Affect. This causes him to burst into uncontrollable laughing fits. Because of this he gets beaten up on the streets daily. 

Slowly he starts to go into madness and transforms into the Joker. 

The movie has a lot of dark themes and violence throughout, which has caused a lot of controversy. Some people think that the movie exploits people with mental illness. Others say it’s good to show the dark parts of mental illness because it spreads awareness regarding ignoring treatment. 

Make no mistake. “Joker” is a work of fiction, a Hollywood moneymaker, and those with mental illlness are not the equivalents of Batman’s arch enemy, but this movie does show some truly disturbing shortcomings by a society overlooking the clear early warning signs of Fleck’s downward spiraling. We believe no one truly knows how it is to live with a mental illness except those who live with one, but this movie dramatizes some of the very real mistakes of our society as a whole and as individuals in addressing mental health. 

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