“Joker” is nothing to joke about

Since the release of “The Joker,” it’s been at center of  a controversy about glorifying murder and gun violence. And I agree. But I think it’s important that it raises these issues. The film reveals the malevolence and the instability of our psyche. In my Lit and Psych class,I’ve been discussing the foundation of our conscience: the battles between our id (unconscious desires), ego (realistic part that mediates between both) and superego (moral conscience). We all struggle with it, and the main character, Arthur Fleck, is conflicted more than most. 

He suffers from obvious mental health issues, the most prominent being psychosis– a mental disorder where thoughts and emotions are so impaired they are dissociated from reality.

He’s a human punching bag throughout the film and I felt bad for him. I mean the easiest way to comprehend the movie is to relate him with other notorious serial killers like Ted Bundy or Charles Manson. And on the surface, he is one of them. But I think it’s important to recognize he’s a product of the constant humiliation and ignorance of the world around him.

I’m not saying to feel remorse for him, which no one should feel. But Arthur has become a symbol of when rebellion against society goes to the extreme.

Since the majority of us are sane, rational humans, we feel the need to conceal all the bad and evil in our unconscious desires. We’re not all wired to have homicidal thoughts, and that’s a good thing. 

However, I think the bigger picture is that not being 100% good is normal. It’s important to explore the sides of ourselves that aren’t always morally righteous. That doesn’t mean robbing a bank or committing violent crimes, but acknowledging the fact that sometimes we do have the instinct not to do the right thing,  and that’s okay.

The more familiar and comfortable we become with that side of ourselves, the less likely we are to completely give in to it. We therefore achieve a balance between our good and evil sides, and help preserve our moral stability. I think that’s where Arthur goes overboard. He was conditioned to always need to act happy, (ironic that he’s a clown) and maintain a moral compass. At some point, he becomes fed up with it and goes in to his homicidal tendencies that are fueled by the repressed evil.

And the more we acknowledge our darker side, the more we can understand, and therefore control it. I think that’s the most important takeaway we can resonate with: it’s fine to criticize the movie for being insensitive to murder and gun violence issues, however, ultimately, it reflects the society we live in today. The same issues “Joker” highlights, are those we choose to ignore.

The more we disregard films that expose the very issues exploited in our society, the more dangerous they become.

A lot of conversation has come about because of this film. From what I’ve noticed, the only real conversations we have are when people are killed: the March for Our Lives Movement was ignited after the Parkland shooting.We feel sympathy and pray it won’t happen to our communities. It feels like we’re too afraid to dive deeper than the surface level and have difficult conversations that recognize why and how the Arthur Flecks of the world develop.