There are only so many times the release of a movie excites me. But the thrill of Joker coming out in the theatres was something else. It reminded me of the time Deathly Hallows was about to launch in bookstores and we had to wait in lines to get our hands on a copy. Yes, that was the level of excitement induced by the famous 8-minute standing ovation at the premiere and the perplexing trailer. And then it hit the theatres near you!
And what a bang it was. A movie that encompasses an entire world that reaches beyond Gotham City. When you unfold this multi-layered piece of art, you’ll notice a subtle but not so subtle emphasis on the stigmas related to mental illness which low-key made audiences awkward because of how real all of it was. Amidst all the debate of whether this depiction of mental illness was justified, I am here to make you feel a little more uncomfortable, garnished with a bit of a reality check.
The Odd Man Out
As you might know already, Arthur Fleck is an aspiring stand-up comedian who is abused, disregarded and outcasted basis his mental illness. The prominence of indifference towards mental illnesses is one of the major setbacks we, as a human race, are currently facing. The movie is blunt with its judgement on how bullying comes as an accompaniment to not being part of the crowd.
The Societal Judgement
The world is waiting to point out your faults. Waiting to bring into limelight what makes you different – different from the ‘norms’. I guess this goes back to the day we defined terms like conventional, typical, normal – that’s when the world became the court of judgement ruled by societal standards.
Does comedy come with tragedy?
God knows there is more than one Arthur Fleck in the world. I don’t necessarily mean they end up in the path of violence, but they are suffering all the same. Mental illness can have different outlets; Arthur’s was his humour (dark, might I add!) but I don’t think anybody failed to see the continual reminders in the form of his ‘negative thoughts’ that helped us to rationalize his behaviour. Don’t take me wrong, I don’t mean if you’re funny you’re going through a chronic mental disorder. The humour could simply be an outlet of feelings, just like writing, music, dancing and basically all kinds of activities.
In the words of Arthur Fleck, “The worst thing about having a mental illness is people expect you to behave as if you don’t.” The one thing that Joker highlights is the indifference towards mental illness. Knowing is the first step, understanding is second. But the most important step is acting on it. Mental health doesn’t go away simply by choosing not to talk about it. We are all fighting our own battles and dealing with our own stress. So, that’s all I am going to ask you to do – be compassionate. It’ll be a beginning to a happier world.