In 2012, a mass shooting occurred at the screening of “The Dark Knight” in Aurora, Colorado. Since the reveal of “Joker,” news stations have been going crazy with ideas that the same might happen, especially based on the content of the movie. News stations such as NBC and websites such as Washington Post have been pushing the idea that going to “Joker” is unsafe and will pose threats to the viewer’s safety.
It feels to me like social media and news are poking the bear and trying to provoke something bad so they can yell, “See, we told you!” and prove that movies cause violence. The truth is, there are many movies more violent and disturbing than “Joker” that could have caused shootings or mayhem, but didn’t. “Joker” didn’t actually cause any shootings but news and media invoked fear in communities by planting the idea that it could.
Other controversies have surrounded “Joker” since its release, such as the idea that it romanticizes violence in mental health illnesses. As someone who suffers with a mental health illness, I don’t believe “Joker” romanticizes it, but rather shows the results of a society without the proper care for those with mental illnesses.
Arthur Fleck, or the Joker, clearly struggles with his mental illness and sees a therapist, though doesn’t receive much help through these services. The services provided in Arkham seem lackluster and are eventually shut down, meaning many mentally ill citizens are unable to get the help they need to recover or stay stable. Arthur stops taking his medication partway through the film and also refuses help which leads to the downfall of his mental health and the upbringing of his persona, Joker.
Along with that, Arthur was never shown to be happy, or healthy, and rather was suffering, revealing a very real impact of mental illness. “Joker” portrayed things in a way where the audience believed him as well. However, many things, like Arthur’s relationship with Sophie, turn out to be a mirage, giving an inside view of his fraying mental health.
I believe “Joker” shows the real aspects of mental health- struggling with what’s real, getting help, and finding a place in the world. No, “Joker” did not invoke a mass shooting and it didn’t romanticize mental illnesses, but it instead gave light to a society without the help available to the mentally ill who needed it.