I watched the ‘Joker’ film last weekend and was rather disturbed as I walked out of the theatre. I had gone in expecting an origin story that would illustrate what pushed the Joker to the dark side. And that’s exactly what I saw on the screen: society ill-treating him to such an extent that he was just a time bomb waiting to explode. The makers of the film obviously wanted the audience to feel sorry for the anti-hero, and I did. And I was really liking the film – until the narrative blamed his violence on mental illness, thus perpetuating a popular stereotype.
See, many people already believe that a person with mental illness is dangerous to the people around them. But that couldn’t be further from the truth – in reality, a mentally ill person is more of a danger to themselves than others.
“Research has shown that people receiving effective treatment for a mental illness are no more violent or dangerous than the rest of the population. People with a mental illness are more likely to harm themselves – or to be harmed – than they are to hurt other people. “
While the film industry is not obliged to educate the masses about, well, anything, it is basic human decency to not propagate false beliefs like people with mental illness are a danger to others.
So while the film is engaging and worthwhile, I advise anyone who watches it to not buy into the ‘mentally ill people are a threat to society and should be avoided and locked up’ trope.
What did you think of the portrayal of mental illness in the Joker? Share your thoughts in the comments below.