When I went to see Joker, I expected to see the “Crowned Prince of Crime”; the mad, zany and impossible-to-love villain who is Batman’s greatest arch-nemesis.
Instead, I was treated to a two-hour long social commentary on why despite all our advancements in the 20th century, mental health still remains an afterthought.
As one of the greatest comic book villains of all time, the Joker is an avid follower of the Cult of Chaos. The fact that his motivations are so unclear makes him riveting to read. The comic book origin story of the Joker is that of a mad scientist who falls into a vat of chemical that permanently disfigures him and drives him insane.
The movie, however, couldn’t be further from this point of view. The Joaquin Phoenix movie is a eulogy to societal failure. The entire movie is about Arthur Fleck’s failed attempts to get someone, absolutely anyone to treat him as a human being. In comparison to this, Thomas Wayne is shown as an entitled individual, reminiscent of Trump, who has his entire life handed to him for him to think that he’s truly special.
Gotham might not be that different from Pakistan. Almost one person commits suicide in Pakistan per hour, yet Pakistan continues to ignore the mental health epidemic. According to Islamic theology, suicide is a crime against God, perhaps thats why there are no official statistics on suicides in Pakistan, nor is suicide counted in national mortality rates.
This film should serve as a reminder that we have hundreds and thousands of such individuals in our country. January 2019 was celebrated as Mental Health Month worldwide in an attempt to provide exposure to an issue that’s otherwise brushed under the rug.
In a society where influencers appear on television and irresponsibly claim that eating well is a cure for mental health, we are still a long way from addressing mental health, let alone providing help and support to those in need. It is also perhaps ironic that Joker has become the biggest money spinner at the box office for an October release.
We cannot continue to brush mental health under the rug, urging people suffering from depression to be more religious, accusing mothers with postpartum of not loving their child enough. We, as a society, seriously lack empathy towards mental patients.
In conclusion, please watch Joker not for its R rated entertainment value but for the eye opening monologue on how we as a society can do more to improve.
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