|Keaton as Batman confronting Nicholson's Joker (1989)
Image courtesy of https://yhoo.it/2Cf0IDg
|Arthur helping his sick mother, Penny
Image courtesy of http://bit.ly/34vHNjo
Trying to make a living as a clown advertising a going out of business sale, Arthur is accosted by a group of teenagers who mock him, take his sign and run away through the busy streets of Gotham. Arthur gives chase, eventually catching up to the teenagers in an alley where they break the sign over his head and savagely beat him before running away and leaving Arthur to fend for himself. The beating is so severe that Arthur is convinced by a colleague that he should start carrying a weapon to protect himself, a choice that eventually costs Arthur his job when the gun falls out while he is performing at a children's hospital.
While this kind of bullying is not nearly as prevalent as it once was, there are still students that are bullied to the point that they see no other way out than to protect themselves. Often times, these are the students, like Arthur, that are the "outcasts" that don't have a circle of friends and are susceptible to severe bullying. Arthur had no intention of ever using the weapon, it was just meant as a means to protect his ability to make a living. That is, until his encounter with three more bullies on the subway shortly after losing his job for the incident at the hospital. Many students are just like this, never intending harm by carrying a weapon, but are suspended/expelled for possession of a weapon (and zero tolerance laws regarding weapons are something that makes my blood boil, I'll save my wrath here), or worse, they end up using the weapon when the bullying becomes too much.
|Phoenix fully evolved from Arthur Fleck to the Joker
Image courtesy of https://lat.ms/2qljw0V
I am fortunate to work at a school that has six counselors and a team of four safe school professionals. Students at my school have several people that they can turn to, on top of the caring staff of teachers, if they have concerns, are feeling bullied, or if they have suicidal thoughts. Unfortunately, like Arthur's situation in the movie, many schools and communities do not have the resources to assist students. But diagnoses of anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, and many other instances of mental illness are becoming more common. If students are unable to access counselors or social workers at school, issues with mental illness can become worse. And these same students often do not have healthcare coverage in which to access services outside of school either.
And how did Arthur come to have these issues in the first place? Initially, you are led to believe that it is because he grew up without a father, then finding out that his father is Thomas Wayne who in order to protect his reputation as a Gotham City billionaire, has been ignoring his mother's pleas for years for help. However, it is revealed that Arthur was in fact adopted by his mother, and was then abused by his mother's boyfriend for years before she was eventually committed to a mental hospital. It's no wonder that Arthur struggled as an adult with such a terrible upbringing.
Many of our students come to school from similar situations. They come from single-parent homes that are struggling to make ends meet. They come from homes with abusive parent figures. Some have parents that are in prison. And while not all students that come from tough homes have a tough time at school and in life, these situations certainly do not help children to thrive.
|Be your students Batman!
Image courtesy of http://bit.ly/2NhjNLm
Until next time...