Wednesday, October 16, 2019

The Joker

Caveat: I have not seen this movie, nor do I think can allow the film industry to draw me into such an emotional maelstrom.  I need to remain more serene than that.  Nevertheless, I commented as follows on a friend's post on FB and wanted to memorialize it here.

I haven't wanted to see this movie, because I fear it would be too upsetting. I prefer fluffy stuff; however, I am curious, in view of the comments below, whether this is a depiction of mental illness based on medical science, or whether it's really just a sensualized and sensationalized piece of glorified click bait.

I wondered similarly about Mel Gibson’s movie “The Passion of Christ.” Yes, it might have been true to the Bible story, but the Bible doesn’t present the story in technicolor with high drama, lingering closeups.

This type of glorification of emotional drama is not real life. I’m not sure exactly why it draws people in — but it does — much like junk food.

Of course, we have the ability, through the casting process, to find performers who have the talent to enthrall people with their performances; again, not because their depictions are truly realistic, but because they are artfully heightened. Real people aren’t so enthralling. Why are we sucked into a high drama portrayal? Why does drama seem more interesting than watching ordinary people walk by on the street? Or than watching a tree?

Having kids with autism spectrum disorders, I am familiar with the history of blaming these disorders on “refrigerator mothers,” when really the disorders were neurological and congenital.

I question whether these homicidal maniacs were really all abused so badly as to make them go bad, or whether they were predisposed from birth to over-react to ordinary stress. Maybe there isn’t a story about them going mad. Maybe they just were like that.

I’m also disturbed by the whole “mental illness” rubric; partly because psychiatry doesn’t seem to be oriented around any disorder of this type, i.e. the fictional “homicidal maniac.” They don’t know how to diagnose any such disorder or treat it.

It may be simply because these people are too maladjusted to seek treatment. They don’t walk into a doctor’s office and say “Hi! I’m a homicidal maniac. Please give me a pill to cure this.” They live in a different world from the rest of us, in terms of how they perceive things — so doctors aren’t in a position to develop protocols. But really we don't know much about such people. They usually die before they can be interviewed.

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