Leading Neurocriminologist Says Joaquin Phoenix's 'Joker' is a 'Great Educational Tool' | 22 Words

Joker has been nothing if not controversial since it hit theatres last month.

The origin story of Batman's nemesis, portrayed masterfully by Joaquin Phoenix, grappled with mental health in a way that no one expected. The movie suggests that the Joker became the evil mastermind following society's treatment of his mental state. Whilst some have considered this portrayal to be damaging and dangerous, others are considering it to be enlightening and important. Important in that the conversation surrounding mental health still has a long way to go.

A movie of this scale dealing with implications of mental health in such an intimate way is now being considered a potential educational tool.

Leading Neurocriminologist, Adrian Raine, has spoken out, detailing why he considers Joker to be such an educational triumph.


The Joker is one of the most infamous villains in the comic book world.

The supervillain made his debut in the Batman comic books in 1940 and has since become one of the most notorious faces of the franchise.

He was originally meant to be killed off during his initial appearance.

But plans changed and he stuck around to become Batman's archenemy.

He was most famously brought to life by Heath Ledger in 2008.

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The Dark Night was a box office smash hit, receiving rave reviews and grossing over a staggering $1 billion in revenue.

The movies the Joker appears in seem to garner worldwide success.

Seems fans of the franchise can't get enough of the psychopathic anti-hero.

So, when it was annouced he was getting a movie of his own...

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...fans were elated. In fact, there was so much buzz around its release that the movie bagged the Golden Lion prize at the Venice Film Festival in September.

This time, the infamous criminal mastermind is portrayed by Joaquin Phoenix.

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Speaking to Ladbible, the Oscar-nominated actor explained: "I thought it was important for it to be its own thing, to be its own interpretation. What's interesting about this character is that everybody can interpret it however they want.
"Even with this film, I think the audience gets to interpret the character and what drives him, in a way that I think is unique for a lot of films. I mean it really asks the audience to participate, and I think that's interesting."

The movie hit screens last week.

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Directed by Todd Phillips, Joker tells the origin story of, you guessed it...the Joker (or Arthur Fleck as he's known as in the movie), and how he evolves into the criminal mastermind we all know him as.

Arthur Fleck is a lonely, failed comedian.

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Set in 1981, Fleck, who is working as a party clown, lives with his mother in Gotham City - a town full of crime and unemployment.

Fleck also has a neurological disorder that causes him to laugh at inappropriate times.

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Due to this, he often lands himself in bad situations. And of course, he finds himself on a huge downward spiral.

He becomes an outcast of society.

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Fleck is isolated, bullied, and lonely.

The movie chronicles his descent into madness.

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Soon enough, Fleck's life becomes rife with out-of-control into delusions, violence, and anarchy and thus, the clown-faced criminal is born.

The movie has solicited some extreme reactions.

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From rave reviews to full-blown outrage, the dark movie has debuted to extremely mixed emotions.

The movie broke major records.

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Over the first weekend alone it raked in an eye-watering $93.5 million at the US box office - although we aren't entirely surprised, given the huge anticipation in the lead up to its release.

But given its blatantly dark and, at times, sensitive themes, it was bound to whip up some kind of controversy.

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And it sure didn't disappoint, with many people slamming the movie for its representation of mental health and "glamorization" of violence.

Theatre-goers have also been left outraged by a particular song used in the movie...

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Convicted pedophile, Gary Glitter's 1972 "Rock and Roll Part 2" is used in one scene. Glitter was jailed in 2015 for a number of sexual assault offenses, including one count of raping a 13-year-old girl, so it's no wonder so many viewers were disgusted.

The movie is apparently so disturbing, it has been leaving viewers unable to continue watching.

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Several people took to Twitter to call out the "horrible" movie, saying how they've been left terrified while watching.

It seems to have rattled many people...

While some have praised the movie for shedding light on the struggles of living with a mental illness, others didn't agree and think the film's portrayal did more harm than good.

Several have been saying the movie should have come with a trigger warning.

Like this user, who cited the graphic shooting as one of the main reasons why they feel a trigger warning should have been placed at the start of the movie.

Other's cut the movie more slack.

While many admitted that the movie was without a doubt dark and disturbing, some say Joaquin Phoenix's performance deserved an Oscar. And it seems as if the news might be on the brink of coming true... Three cheers for Joaquin Phoenix!

In my humble opinion, I say you give that man an Oscar right now.

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It's not even been a week since the movie hit the big-screens but it has already managed to crawl its way into the top 10 films of all time. According to IMDb rankings, Joker is now considered one of the best movies to ever exist coming in at 9.

Formerly, the only other comic book movie to make it into the rankings was...

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The Dark Knight, which fell into the top 5. With over 2 million ratings ranking the film at 9/10 stars, it's going to take some beating.

But Joker is slowly pushing its way into the top-tier.

The film currently stands at an 8.8 rating standard, with many Pheonix fans hoping that it will continue sneaking up until it falls into the top 5 films of all time.

But the film has some pretty stiff competition.

Swimming around the top end of the ratings are classics like Pulp Fiction and The Godfather, so it seems like the chances of it ranking amongst the elite squad in cinema history is very narrow. And the ranking for popular films slowly dies out as the hype dies, so if that happens, the chances are at zero. But we can still hope, right?

A film of such cinematic genius deserves to receive an accolade.

I always think, if a film has the power to make you feel any kind of extreme emotion, such as love, hate, disgust, sadness, happiness, whatever it may be, it has done its job as an art form. And, at the moment, Joker is doing just that.

Meet Dr. Adrian Raine.

via: University of Southern California

Raine is a leading Neurocriminologist, who is an expert in the field of criminal behavior. He happened to watch the Joker with his nephews and was not expecting to unearth the perfect study of how a human can fall into criminal behavior through past trauma, genetics, and untreated mental illness.

Raine is the author of The Anatomy of Violence: The Biological Roots of Crime.

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His study into the criminal mind is a highly acclaimed work in the field of psychological study. The book was awarded The Athenaeum of Philadelphia's Annual Literary Award and won New Scientist Best Book of 2013. Raine's work looks at what makes someone become a killer and grapples with whether becoming a mass murderer is an innate predisposition or is the result of outside interference.

Adrian has studied the cause of crime and violence for forty-two years.

A scholar, lecturer, and general criminal buff, if anyone can say Joker is educational, it's this guy. I mean, if someone who knows everything there is to know about the criminal mind found Scott Silver's script enlightening, then I think we ought to listen.

"What a revelation this was."

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In an interview with Vanity Fair, Dr. Raine expressed that: "While watching this film, I thought, 'Wow, what a revelation this was. I need to buy this movie down the road, make excerpt clips of it to illustrate' […] It is a great educational tool about the making of the murderer. That threw me."

Joker puts focus on society's ignorance towards mental illness.

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In one scene, Phoenix's character has one of his laughing fits (which is an element of his condition) whilst sitting on a bus. We watch as the other passengers shoot him unfriendly looks. Although giving a stranger an unfriendly look shouldn't amount to them becoming a mass murderer, it speaks of a wider problem about how mental illness can ostracize those that are a victim to it.

"We don’t want to stigmatize mentally ill people as being dangerous people."

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Dr. Raine makes the important point that the movie shouldn't be perceived as suggesting that mentally ill people pose a threat. Rather Adrian considers that the plot of Joker proves the importance of treating people with mental illness. He considers that, under the circumstances, Phoenix's Arthur did not have "free will, given his life. He was a walking time bomb waiting to explode—all it took was some significant life stress, beatings up, losing a job. You’ve got nothing left..."

Treating mental health eliminates the risk factor.

Undiagnosed and untreated mental illnesses can spiral into dangerous and unpredictable behaviors. Dr. Raine considers that Joker proved that "no one is born into that kind of violence," and that Arthur's destiny was laid out by the consequences of an unsupportive society.

Dr. Raine isn't the only one who saw the educational benefits of the movie.

Twitter user, Brian, considers that he learned more watching Joker than he ever did in his sociology class.

For some, it might not be an easy watch...

But many are in agreement that this movie is an important movie to go and see.

Who knew DC would be leading the way in teaching mental health?

Whether we were expecting it or not, I think that there are many people out there who will benefit from themes regarding mental health awareness hitting the mainstream. For more Joker related content, continue scrolling. Up next we've got the fifty best memes reacting to the Joker premiere.