This past weekend, I watched “Joker.” I waited for all of the action involving Joker driving in a high-speed chase in the Batmobile. I was wrong, yet not disappointed.
I quickly realized it was not at all a fast action comedy about the Joker we’ve all come to know in the DC Comics world. Instead, the movie focused on mental health and how the world looks down upon it, turning a blind eye to those in need and mocking those with this awful disorder. Yes, disorder. The movie follows Arthur Fleck, a.k.a. Joker, a failed comedian who seeks connection with those around him. He wears two masks: the one he paints on for his day job as a clown, and the other he projects in a futile attempt to feel like he’s part of the world around him. He is constantly bullied for his mental illness, though no one knows about it or seems to care.
I sympathized with him. I was angry and sad for him. I laughed and cried with him. I did not, however, condone his actions.
Josh Brolin wrote the following in an Instagram post:
“To appreciate Joker, I believe you have to have either gone through something traumatic in your lifetime (and I believe most of us have) or understand somewhere in your psyche what true compassion is (which usually comes from having gone through something traumatic, unfortunately). An example of dangerous compassion would be to, say, make a film made about the fragility of the human psyche, and make it so raw, so brutal, so balletic that by the time you leave the theatre you not only don’t want to hurt anything but you desperately want an answer and a solution to the violence and mental health issues that have spun out of control around us. This film makes you hurt and only in pain do we ever want to change.”
This sums up “Joker” beautifully. I applaud the directors, producers, cast and most of all Joaquin Phoenix, who portrayed Joker himself. As someone who suffers with anxiety and depression, I could not be happier with this movie. I come from a family who unfortunately does not “get” mental health, and I don’t blame them. I know there are more who don’t understand it, too. It is my hope that you take the time to watch “Joker” and help break the stigma of mental health. And please, do not take your young children to watch this.
REBECCA PESQUEDA is a Reporter for the Pleasanton Express. You may reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.