Film focuses on social issues
‘Is it just me, or is it getting crazier out there?” – Joker (2019). Perhaps it is a coincidence that Warner Bros “Joker” released the week that Mental Health Day was marked around the world, but it’s relevance seems fitting not only to this particular week but to today’s society in general. World Mental Health Day is a day for global mental health education, awareness and advocacy against social stigma. This day, thousands of supporters come to celebrate this annual awareness program to bring attention to mental illness and its major effects on peoples’ life worldwide.
“Joker” is not your typical DC film and treads a fine line between art and commercial cinema.
“Joker” opens and continues for the most part focusing on Arthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix), a victim of abuse as a child leading to his mental issues as an adult. As we watch Fleck descend further into depression as “Smile while your heart is breaking” plays in the background, one can’t help but notice his loneliness, frustration and disconnect from a society who fails to appreciate or understand him, as he flirts with idea of suicide.
This leads him to inexcusably start killing. His Joker outfit and constant laughing depict an underlying mental disability and the “happy mask” he wears in a sometimes “fake” world. The Philosophical parallels with life in today’s world, where many of us may wear masks, are startling at times.
These masks are a way of coping perhaps, or depicting a personality that is needed to survive or fit in. Perhaps this is due to the fear of not being accepted for what one is. “Joker” also brings up today’s intolerance on various view points and how certain criticisms are just not tolerated nowadays.
The film insinuates that being different or having a different or nonconforming view point is not tolerated today. From a very effective first half focusing on mental issues, the second half of “Joker” changes course somewhat and focuses on politics, gun violence and inequality in America, as Fleck becomes somewhat of an anti-hero and embarks on his killing spree. “I used to think my life is a tragedy…but now I realize it’s a comedy” – Joker While there has been criticism for the violence in the movie, it’s important to note the character at hand has had poorly addressed mental issues which are now taking a violent turn.
“Joker” ends up focuses on many different social issues, the most effective of which are Fleck’s mental issues and attempts to deal with them. The movie has sparked fierce debate with some critics it promotes violence and depicts austerity. For me “Joker” is perhaps the “Rebel without a cause” for this decade – an individual in a world that doesn’t understand or sympathize with him.
By Adeeb Shuhaiber Senior Anchorman KTV2 and FM 99.7