“The worst part of having a mental illness is people expect you to behave as if you don’t.” – Arthur Fleck, also known as the Joker.
This quote is the backbone of the 2019 film “Joker,” which was directed by Todd Phillips. As true as the quote is for Arthur Fleck, the Joker character’s given name, I believe it is equally true for today’s society. The Joker isn’t a typical film that shows Batman’s greatest enemy; instead of your traditional superhero film, the audience gets an honest look at the downward spiral of modern society.
Starting in September 2018, Todd Philips and the film crew started on a yearlong journey to bring the story written by Todd Phillips and Scott Silver to life. The story of the infamous Joker revolves around a man named Arthur Fleck, played by Joaquin Phoenix, as he tries to find his place in the world. He works as a clown but dreams to be a professional comedian, admiring the character Murray Franklin who is a talk-show host played by Robert De Niro. The movie clocks in at just over two hours and is an emotional rollercoaster much like Arthur’s life.
“Joker” touches on many topics ranging from what the world says an ideal man looks like to how we treat those with mental illness. As quoted earlier, Arthur’s character doesn’t feel accepted or normal due to how the world treats people with mental illnesses. “Joker” is a film that sees the world’s issues, and instead of ignoring them, it calls them out and deals with them head on. This film makes the audience take a real look at society, while possibly dealing with the inner clown in themselves.
Jonny Boucher, who is the founder and CEO of Hope for The Day, a company that offers help and material on Mental Health and Suicide awareness, said, “If we are going to be proactive about mental health, we must meet people where they are and not where we expect them to be.”
I think this is the whole point of “Joker,” because it shows that when society forces a person to be someone they’re not, they might turn into the worst version of themselves.
Illustration by Jonathan Westcott