Yes, I saw the new Joker movie, and yes I absolutely loved it. There, I said it.
It was one of the most powerful and profound films about mental illness I have ever seen. It was a well-crafted, brutally honest story that shed light on topics most people refuse to talk about.
Was it too violent? Nope. Was it just another a cliché about a disturbed white man who was bullied then turned mad… Nope.
Am I biased? Maybe. Regardless…
Here are 5 Brutal Truths About Society The Joker Got Right
1. Monsters Are Not Born, They Are Created
I think we’d all like to believe that monsters are born – their ‘disturbia’ is programmed, fate predetermined. It makes it easier to write them off as someone else’s problem so we can avoid feeling responsible.
Then, that monster shoots up a school or festival and we become outraged, placing blame wherever we can.
Honestly, what gives us the right to have an entitled outrage?
The fact is, most monsters are created – molded by years of trauma, neglect, and dismissal from society. In their world, empathy and compassion are scarce, and they long for human connection of any kind.
Then, one day, after decades of suffering – they snap. And we wonder what drove them to be such a monster.
The “Joker”, and his ‘disturbia’, is a direct result of society dismissing someone who is different and a system failing those who need help the most.
As kids we loved the heroes, as adults we understand the villains.
2. There Is Pain Behind Every Fake Smile
The worst part of having a mental illness is people expect you to behave as if you don’t.
Society has this image of who we’re supposed to be and what our lives should look like. So, what do we do?
We slap on a fake smile, snap the picture, mock it up with a few pretty filters, post it on social media, and wait for the dopamine hits with every new like. And we wonder why we’re depressed.
The sad truth is, there are wounds we can’t see on people that are far deeper than anything that bleeds. All it takes is a fake smile to hide a wounded soul and people will never know how broken you really are.
The worst kind of pain is smiling just to keep the tears from falling. People don’t question if you’re okay because you try really hard to seem like you are. Isn’t it strange that people who suffer the most use laughter to hide the pain underneath?
Well, friends…making people laugh isn’t the same as being happy.
3. People Suck, Even When They Think They Don’t
“You don’t listen, do you? You just ask the same questions every week… How’s your job? Are you having any negative thoughts?
All I have are negative thoughts…”
This was one of the most profound scenes I have ever watched. Arthur (Joaquin Pheonix) meets with his social worker, someone who is supposed to care, and clearly does not.
Maybe she’s fighting her own battle, or dealing with a system that failed her, too. Regardless, this is a person put in place to ask the right questions. The questions that Arthur, The Joker, is longing for her to ask. And she fails to do so.
We don’t ask the right questions anymore. Just because we ask someone how they’re doing, doesn’t mean we actually care. And this scene portrays that, perfectly.
We need to start asking questions that matter, the questions that show we actually care.
Are you happy? If you’re not, how can I help?
4. The Root Of All Chaos Is Fear Of The Unknown
People don’t like people who are different. It alters the status quo – the way things are supposed to be done.
Isn’t it interesting how no one seems to panic when things go according to plan? But once there’s an upset in the established order, everything turns to chaos.
Well, friends – the root of all chaos is fear of the unknown. And it’s the things we’re the most uncertain about that seem to be the most frightening.
In the movie, people panic when three white “business men” are brutally murdered by a masked man in the subway. What they don’t know is, those three “business men” beat the masked man half to death for a laughing disorder called Pseudobulbar Affect. This disorder is a result of traumatic brain injuries that occurred from childhood abuse.
Their outrage over his involuntary laughter speaks to the universal ignorance on the topic of mental illness. “It’s different, so it must be punished.”
This same hate is very real in our culture, today. We need to do better. It’s time WE alter the status quo.
5. The World Is Hurting, It’s Time We Care
Ultimately, The Joker gives us a glimpse into the daily life of someone who is suffering from a mental illness and how he is dismissed by a social system who failed him.
In another fundamental scene, Arthur meets with his social worker for the last time – even though his mental health is clearly deteriorating. The problem, as she explains, is that funding for her treatment program has been cut-off.
“They don’t give a shi* about people like you, Arthur,” she tells him, explaining governmental indifference to mental illness. “And they really don’t give a shi* about people like me, either.”
The sad truth is that Mental Health funding is always the first to be cut. The problem, as seen in our world today, it that people are suffering – and we, as a society, don’t do well when people are suffering. And that needs to change.
When did we stop caring? When did we become a culture defined by personal gain? When did it become okay to dismiss people as someone else’s problem?
We cannot allow people to suffer in silence. It’s time for us to start asking the questions that matter.
Be kind today, friends. And try to treat the world better than it’s treated you. It could make all the difference.
Oh, also… in case no one told you today, I think you are one marvelous piece of the universe and this world needs you in it.
That’s all I got for now. Stay tuned, friends ✌️