Oscar-winning comic book The Joker, starring Joaquin Phoenix, may have led to moviegoers developing prejudices about people with mental health problems.
An investigation by researchers at the University of Otago in New Zealand found that enmity against people with troubled thoughts increased when people saw the movie.
It was a global hit and the first R-rated & # 39; billion-dollar blockbuster & # 39; of & # 39; world, but the 2019 movie sparked controversy for its depiction of violence and madness.
The Warner Bros movie saw an increase in bigotry against people with mental illness, according to new research – with a 14 per cent rise in hostility toward people with troubled thoughts after someone saw the movie.
The authors say that the film – and people's reaction to it – can affect the level of help and support that patients receive – both professionally and socially.
Joaquin Phoenix as Arthur Fleck – aka the Joker – in a movie of the same name. A new study suggests that people who watch the movie develop a negative opinion of people with mental health problems
An estimated nine out of 10 people with mental health problems in the UK suffer stigma and discrimination – although not specifically as a result of & # 39; a Joker movie.
People were asked for their views on mental health before and after watching & # 39; the movie
Researchers took people over the age of 18 to look at the Joker as the Terminator.
They were each asked to complete a survey to place their view on the PPMI scale – that is, Prejudice against people with mental illness – used by experts.
There were 84 people at the Joker movie and 80 at the Terminator movie.
They were asked about their views on a series of statements to measure fear, authoritarianism and unpredictability.
- & # 39; I would feel insecure with someone who is mentally ill & # 39 ;.
- & # 39; People who are mentally ill should be forced to have treatment & # 39;
- & # 39; In & # 39; Generally, you cannot predict how people with mental illness will behave. & # 39;
They were asked the questions before and after watching & # 39; the movie.
For the Joker, the average score went from 2.99 to 3.2 in the 9-point scale.
For the Terminator movie, it went from 2.91 to 2.88 to the movie.
Corresponding author Dr Damian Scarf said that Joker was clearly associated with higher levels of prejudice against people with mental illness.
& # 39; Beyond prejudice, associating mental illness with violence can reduce support for policies that we know to be beneficial to those with mental illness – such as community integration, & # 39; said Scarf.
& # 39; In addition, Joker can increase self-stigma for people with a mental illness, leading to delays in seeking help. & # 39;
The film charts the origin of & # 39; the madness of & # 39; Batman's arch enemy from its inception as a failed comic – and earned Joaquin Phoenix an Oscar.
& # 39; We were not surprised to increase the movie prejudice about people with mental illness, & # 39; said Scarf.
& # 39; It plays on common stereotypes about people with mental illness that are & # 39; unpredictable and violent. & # 39;
Dr Scarf's team measured whether watching the 2019 film changed the level of prejudice against people with mental illness with a joint survey.
They found that in a study of 84 volunteers, the level of prejudice dramatically increased on a scale used by psychiatrists called PPMI (Prejudice Against People with Mental Illness).
Before you saw it, the average score was 2.99. After all, it was 3.2 – which is a 14 percent increase in the level of hostility.
On the other hand, there was no such effect found in people who saw another R-rated movie – Terminator: Dark Fate.
In fact, average PPMI fell a little from 2.91 to 2.88. Both films had rated R for her violence – the same as Joker.
This requires under 17s in the US to be accompanied by an adult. The ages of 164 participants in both films ranged from 18 to over 60.
The PPMI test is based on 28 questions – such as how you feel about talking to someone with mental illness, inviting them to your home or being romantically involved.
In the film, Phoenix's character visits Arthur Arkham State Hospital to receive medication for a mental illness. But this has been halted because of budget cuts – and he is turning into a devious serial killer.
In November, it became the first R-rated movie to pass the $ 1 billion (£ 772m) mark in global ticket sales. More than 100 million people have seen it worldwide.
& # 39; Because Joker follows the tradition of films that portray individuals with mental illness as violent, the discussion has resurfaced on the role of media that perpetuates prejudice on people with mental illness, & # 39; ; said Scarf.
& # 39; We hypothesized that, compared to watching Terminator: Dark Fate, watching Joker would be associated with higher level & # 39; s prejudice against people with mental illness. & # 39;
American actor Joaquin Phoenix, winner of & # 39; Oscar for Best Actor in a Leading Role for his portrayal of & # 39; a Joker in a movie. He once ran out of an interview where violence was magnified
His team took participants to a movie house in Dunedin, New Zealand, where they were randomly assigned to watch both films.
She completed the PPMI scale before and after watching her film.
Dr Sjaal pointed out the study published in JAMA Network Open has not assessed whether watching Joker was associated with actual behavior – just thouths.
But he added: & # 39; In The Dark Knight, Joker asks, & # 39; Why so serious? & # 39; One can ask that question to us, claiming that Joker is nothing to deal with.
& # 39; What this notion ignores, however, is the profound impact that prejudice has on people with a mental illness. & # 39;
James Holmes, dressed head to toe in tactical gear, shot down twelve people during a screening of the sequel The Dark Knight Rises in Colorado.
They included Jessica Ghawi, 24, whose mother Sandy Phillips told BBC News that she was & # 39; horrified & # 39; was by the Joker trailers.
Warner Bros said the film was no distinction for real-world violence. Phoenix ran out of an interview when he was asked about the issue.
Dr Sjaal still thinks that movies like Joker can be made – but Hollywood needs to & # 39; the negative influence & # 39; reduce, including making information available before and after the movie to make it clear that the mental health picture is fictitious.
& # 39; Another possibility is a short video of someone with a mental illness who does not share prejudice of mental illness on their life.
& # 39; The former is more of an educational / fact-based approach, while the latter's goal would be to increase empathy. & # 39;
Research by statistics agency NHS Digital has found at any time that one in six 16 to 64-year-olds in the UK has a mental health problem.
The study was published in the journal JAMA Network Open.
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