Motivated to Shoot

Controversial movie “Joker” has sparked conversation across America about the impacts that media has on viewers. When taking a closer look, one may evaluate exactly why Americans have become so fraught with mental illness, and what exactly can be done to keep people safe.


Patrick Otte

The recent award-winning film, the “Joker,” a re-imagining of the classic DC comics “Batman” horror-film, has stirred up quite a controversy amongst its viewers.
Vulture, a website that focuses on upcoming blockbuster films, noted that “Many critics ponder Joker’s potential to inspire acts of domestic terrorism.”
Viewers walked out during the film because they thought that it was ‘too dark’ and ‘too intense.” The “Joker” reflects America’s problem of gun violence subtly.
Joaquin Phoenix plays the Joker, who, in this psychological drama, goes by the name of Arthur Fleck.
Fleck is a sickly, chain-smoking mentally-unbalanced human. His strange behaviors and untimely laughs lead him to be bullied by those in his community. The people surrounding him don’t recognize the patterns of a psychopath, which Fleck exhibits while manipulating and violating others.
“I would classify Fleck as the type of person who has mental illnesses [while being] way too lonely. Someone with those mental problems shouldn’t have time to brood as much as he does,” senior Dante Christie said. “Fleck is far from ‘fine.’”
The central controversial aspect of this film originates from the fear that pieces of media can inspire watchers to replicate the actions they view on the screen.
For the past 20 years, school shootings have ravaged America, making many confused and disturbed as to how our society has progressed to this point, and where we are going from here.
Everyone is asking: “What are the causes of school shootings? Why would anyone commit acts so horrendous?” The answer is not as simple as some may hope.
Football coach Keanon Lowe is credited with preventing a possible school shooting when he came upon a student who brought a loaded gun to Portland High School in Parkland, Oregon. Lowe’s quick instincts and big heart made all the difference.
He sprinted over to the school shooter, grabbed his shotgun, handed it to someone else, moving to hug the school shooter for about 20 seconds.
The shooter started trembling, broke down, and said: “All I ever wanted was a hug.”
“Obviously, he broke down, and I just wanted to let him know that I was there for him,” Lowe said. “I told him I was there to save him — I was there for a reason and that this is a life worth living.”
Lowe’s actions reveal what Americans can do, and how they can be better.
Another question American is asking is what we can identify as the root of growing mental illness in recent years?
“The answer might be technology. Smartphones. People, especially the younger generations, are on their phones all the time. Phones are supposed to keep us more connected,” World History teacher Kevin Shertzer said. “I think social media divides us and makes us feel lonelier than ever.”
Social media is a constant distraction for the majority of people who can log up to 10 hours of screen time a day.
A new study by the University of Pittsburgh found that teens who use social media heavily are 3 times as likely to feel socially isolated. This can cause a teen to feel even more alone than before, leading lower confidence and motivation to engage in social interactions.
Meaningful conversations with friends become mindless chats over Instagram.
With all these distractions, the background noise grows. People ignore how meaningful connections are to our mental stability.
What happens when we cut ourselves off from Social Media?
Who do we become?
Many people don’t take time to step back, take a walk, or to be alone to reassess their lives.
In a time where distractions are everywhere, and the rate of mental illness is increasing in teens, self-care is essential.
“I try and find a spot where nobody I know will find me,” English teacher Al Silva said. “For example, I’ll go to an authentic coffee shop, isolate myself in a corner, and sit down with a book for a couple of hours.”
Take time to think of an important person in your life who could use some help. Please sit down, talk to them.
We could all use a hug. Perhaps if we make time to take care of ourselves, our problems will diminish rather than fester. If we don’t find time to take care of ourselves, our issues control us and trickle over into our everyday life.
Arthur Fleck is an extreme example, but it is clear that if we make meaningful relationships, he may have never become the Joker.