we need to talk about how 'joker' treats mental illness

by deborah geesling

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I’m probably the last person you would expect to see


I am the mother of someone who battles a significant mental illness. I anticipated that this would rip me apart.

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I braced myself as I walked into the theater alone... My heart was racing a bit.

The director is confronting us with something, and it’s not politics, violence or even “incels.” This movie is brilliantly about mental illness.


I’ve heard from family members of people who have serious mental illness that they saw their loved one in the main character, Arthur Fleck.

My take:

I don’t think “Joker” is about violent revenge; it’s telling the tale of what many live with every day. It’s trying to get our attention. I think it works.


Some argue this movie portrays mental illness in a twisted light. “Joker” begs the uncomfortable question, “Who was there for Arthur Fleck?”

We must acknowledge that we’ve relegated people who live with complex issues to the fringes of our society.

Let this movie hit you square the way it was meant to.

i believe:

"Joker" beckons us to choose the unsentimental and tender eye.

Read Mighty contributor Deborah Geesling's full review.

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Editor's note:

Less than 3% to 5% of US crimes involve people with mental illness. Fewer than 5% of the 120,000 gun-related killings in the United States between 2001 & 2010 were perpetrated by people diagnosed with mental illness.


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