Joker Exposes the harsh truths about Mental Health and the Ugly horrors of Society
Every time you hear Joaquin Phoenix, you instantly know that it’s going to be a quality film. Joker is no exception. Joaquin gave the performance of his life and the whole team behind it, thanks to the direction of Todd Philips and the cinematic prowess of Lawrence Sher, did an equally amazing job.
The story follows Arthur Fleck who eventually turns into the Joker. His story is grim, tragic, and overall depressing. Despite getting a 7-minute standing ovation from the Cannes Film Festival from esteemed members of the film industry, a lot of people are saying that the movie “glamourized” and “justified” Arthur’s actions and his overall transition to Joker. However, for us here in /ESCAPE, it’s anything but. Joker showed how delicate and drastic mental health issues are, and how we, as a society often turn a blind eye to it or even help breed it. UGLY. The movie depicts raw emotion and nothing but truths about being mentally unstable and being on the road to worsening mental states.
Here are all the major important mental health lessons we learned from Joker, a.k.a one of the most defining and iconic films of our time.
Better Mental Health Care
The film shows that the government stripped off the only access Artur had to therapy and medication. Cited in the movie, they were cutting budgets and the city government thought it best to cut budgeting on public mental health care. Here’s the thing: Mental health is health care, so why is it being benched like it was a joke?! There should be access to proper mental health care centers for everyone, especially to those who have zero means to go to therapy and get medication. Don’t even get us started on quality mental health care.
Mental Illnesses Are Invisible
You can’t always spot people who are depressed. This is best depicted in a scene in the movie where he heads into the mental asylum to pick up his mom’s records. He was in an elevator with a man (obviously unstable/crazy) strapped to a bed. This is a perfect depiction that anyone can be experiencing a mental crisis and we can’t always spot them. Mentally unstable or disabled people are also persons with disabilities and just because you can’t see their illness means they don’t exist. This is even upheld in the movie in the scene where he has to pass on a card to a lady who was giving him an attitude for laughing uncontrollably. The card explains that Arthur has a condition that makes him laugh uncontrollably. Imagine having to explain your conditions to people!? Like, WHY?! Let’s all be more sympathetic and empathetic, people who are not well don’t owe us an explanation to their current state.
Putting on a Smile doesn’t mean you’re genuinely happy
Arthur Fleck works as a fulltime clown and he proclaims that his purpose in life is to bring joy and happiness to the world. His condition, a laughing reflex to any tense situation, is actually real. It’s called pseudobulbar affect (PBA), it’s when your emotional reactions don’t reflect what you really feel. Medical condition or none, the saddest people are sometimes the ones who put on a happy face and we have to more empathetic to everyone because you’ll never know what they’re going through.
It Takes a Community To Heal Someone
It’s very visible that Arthur had no friends. He had occasional communication with his workmates and mom, but he was overall, as he described himself as well in The Murray Franklin show, a loner. It’s true that no one can heal from mental illness/es alone. It takes more than attending therapy and taking your meds, it takes a supportive community and society to really help someone out of these dark places.
Don’t Joke About Suicide
A key moment in the film is when Arthur shares the elevator with his neighbor who rants about their building’s shitty situation. The neighbor playfully puts a gun finger to her head and pretends to pull the trigger. This scene is repeated somewhere else in the movie, reminding us that suicide is not a joke. It’s not a punchline to be thrown around lightly. Besides, what’s so funny about a person killing him/herself anyway????
Your Family Contributes Greatly to your mental health
There’s no direct proof that mental illnesses are hereditary but we do know that your home and family contribute greatly to your overall mental state. Arthur had a disturbed mother who also had her fair share of schizophrenia moments and that carried on to him. A lot of critics are now citing instances in the movie that Arthur was hallucinating half of the time! One’s family can contribute greatly to one’s mental health, let’s make sure it’s for the positive!
We Can All Be A Source of Trauma
The guys who bullied and beat him up in the train was an obvious source of PTSD for Arthur. The TV show airing his humiliating stand-up and his friend saying he never lent him a gun when he did, are also sources for trauma. Did these people intend to traumatize Arthur? Probably not directly for some, but they did contribute to his major breakdowns and overall his transition into Joker. When was the last time you were mean to someone you didn’t know? Think twice about these things. You might have contributed to the deterioration of their overall mental health.