“Joker”, directed by Todd Phillips and starring Joaquin Phoenix, was released to theaters October 4. Even though it has been about three weeks since its release and there is less media coverage, there is still something about the movie that speaks to me that needs to be said. Media coverage around such an infamous character as Joker was negative, not about the movie however. The movie itself is getting praises from every critic and casual watcher, and it’s now the highest grossing R-rated movie of all time. Instead, gatekeepers tell the wrong side of the story when it comes to this movie.
The Joker doesn’t have a specific origin, but he ends up as a man beaten down by life and driven to insanity and crime. One trait that adds to this reincarnation is that he is mentally ill. He goes to therapy run by the state hospital and gets medicine. At one point of the movie, funding to the hospital where he gets therapy is cut so he can’t receive therapy anymore. This is where Arthur Fleck starts to become the Joker. The rest of the movie is Joker inciting riots , violence and mayhem.
Leading up to the movie, mainstream media was worried that the movie would start an uprise in violence, specifically mass shootings. It was reported that there were undercover police officers in theaters in New York City in case of attempted mass shootings. Since Joker is a character that incites violence, people feared the movie would incite violence. Even though coverage as died down since its release, a more important topic was never discussed.
Arthur Fleck is severely mentally ill. He struggles in social situations and was delusional throughout the whole movie, but he was never violent. It wasn’t till after he didn’t get medication that he began his descent to madness. The lack of funding in the movie for mental health to me reflects the lack of care we have in our world. There are many days, weeks, or months dedicated to mental health, including Mental Health week early this October, and while those are great things to have more has to be done. The message and coverage of the movie instead focused on the violence instead of the more important topic that affects millions of people everyday. It is a shame that this is no longer the discussion and story for this movie, but kudos to the makers of Joker for telling a story with a message that is incredibly important.
By: Danny Rehm
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