Education and Learning, Just about Anything, Mental Health, Writing

How The 2019 Film Joker is a Case Study for How Not To Treat the Mentally Ill.

Art many times imitates life and vise versa, as  a film love I always tend to look for the meaning behind the action, drama and love. Over my lifetime I have tried to look at a films message as not every film as a message, some are just pointless and fun. Pointless and boring and some just make no sense as far as the plot, the logic and realism of the film. I get not every film has to make logical sense like magic or spiritualism that may not always be true and live-in reality.

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A film that a recent watched was the 2019 Film Joker.  First and foremost, I think Joaquin did an incredible job in his performance as the Joker much different interpretation then previous Jokers giving the character some back story to his madness.  The film reflects a man who I think the world has just forgotten about which happens all too often today for many.

Arthur Fleck a man who appeared to have just had a rough life from a young child, first starting with his abandonment by his birth mother and then abuse by his adopted mother’s boyfriend. Unsure what his life was like growing up, but it must have been difficult having a mother who suffered from delusions herself and being a one-time resident of Arkham asylum. Parts of Arthur’s life is unknown even who may his father in the film, which is believed to be Thomas Wayne, wouldn’t that be a great back story to have the great Bruce Wayne as a half-brother.

My Suffering Relates

As someone who has suffered with Mental illness and depression in my past, I somewhat sympathize with the Joker. Although the deaths were senseless especially his mother. It just goes to show you how much someone is in pain and people tend to ignore that pain. Many will attempt to justify that the pain is not real or important and to just get on with their life but its not that easy. Having been a fired clown and a failed comedian Arthur was trying just to make it and find something that brought him Joy.

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In my late teens and mid-twenties, I suffered greatly from depression even though on the outside had a fairly normal upbringing living a home, food on the table and clothes on my back, but had my own torturer in my life a grandfather who belittled me from a young age something that took years to overcome. Even today I don’t always have the confidence I feel I need to succeed always doubting myself.

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My mind has been through hell and back so I can see a man like Arthur looking for anyone to be just kind to him. Remember fondly the seen when Arthur kills Randall in a violent outrage but allowing Gary to leave the room because he as kind to him. You see kindness can go a long way, something we in society fail at miserably. I would never justify someone like Fleck killing but it certainty is understandable especially when one feels powerless especially in the subway scene where Arthur kills the three Wayne enterprise traders. The hate for the rich still exists today as it did when the film time took place in 1981, even today the hate for the rich is stronger than ever.

Today is Only Getting Worse

Today we see all too often people are going off the deep end and going on kill rampages and murder sprees and caulk it up to people not being kind to them, but that is not it at all. The truth is we some control we are not powerless, but the sad truth is for the mentally ill to function in society we need society to just be kind. Arthur was obliviously strange in his behavior, how he spoke and his laughter which was caused by nervousness.

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Growing up myself I grew up awkward myself, a loner, the fat kid with no friends sitting at the lunch table alone. I was bullied as the fat kid with physical threats, words and belittling. It hurt but I internalized that pain and held it in thinking I was just not worthy of friendship and love.

Over time I got better but I did have a breaking point in 2007 that almost changed the trajectory of my life and in 2008 and beyond my life changed forever meeting my future wife and having my daughter. Maybe that is what the Joker was looking for, in fact I know he was as he imagined life with Sophie Dumond. For myself I search for that special someone late in my teens and into my late adulthood until I found my wife, but remember rejection after rejection because of who I was, still Fat Joe, strange , quiet, reserved but not worth anyone’s time. 

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The Joker still ends up the Same

The end result with Joker is that in fact he is insane and murderer which lines up perfectly with who the Joker becomes. The Joker does have a degree of intelligence and is not just some thug, but if you compare this Joker to other Jokers in comparison the others are thugs and murders who just wish to Kill. Arthur Fleck’s mind has reached the point of no return as he is now a real criminal who would most likely spend his life at Arkham Asylum for the criminally insane.

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Today we live in a world of sickness and depression that goes untreated for many only magnifying ones symptoms causing the person to get worse. Arthur Fleck appeared trying to heal his mind with therapy and medicine until those resources were cut out, a reality that happens to many today as they are unable to afford their needed meds and get the therapy, they need to maintain a healthy life.

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What is intriguing about this film is that Joker forced himself to be happy each day, living a dismal life of living with his mother. Not there is anything wrong with helping mom but being that Arthur and his mother were both mentally ill it probably was not the best fit since both needed serious help and attention, like the blind leading the blind.

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Having lived in a place that mimicked those dismal circumstances it was quite depressing, lonely and easy to get to a point one can go crazy being in certain surroundings. I am sure it was by design living in Gotham (New York) is a dismal place at times, although many will disagree it’s a great place. I am having live-in South-Central Los Angeles for most of my life I can relate.

I would say anyone who you know who and could be the next Joker show that person kindness, compassion and understanding but putting yourself aside for once, your selfishness and think of others.

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Remember to smile at these individuals because deep down they want to see that you see them as human, as a person and of value, if we had done this for the Joker its quite possible he wouldn’t have turned into a psychotic lunatic.

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