A Worthy CAUSE

It was always my intention to volunteer with a local charity during my final year of university, I wanted to give some of my time to help in any way that I could. I got involved with CAUSE – a mental health charity focusing on providing support for the carers of those people with severe mental illnesses. The work they do is extremely important, and they are the only charity of their kind within Northern Ireland. 2020 is their 25th anniversary and so they wanted a Communications/PR volunteer to help raise awareness about their birthday year and so I quickly put my name forward to help.GD30

After a great first meeting with two members of the CAUSE team I was all set for my new role as a Communications volunteer. Fast forward a few months and I have been able to meet various members of the CAUSE team and they have all been so lovely and welcoming. I work mostly with the wonderful Anne Holland who is the fundraising manager for CAUSE. I was instantly drawn in by her bubbly personality and we get on very well, she is a very positive person and there is a never a dull moment when she’s around.

The first day that I met Anne she persuaded me to sign up for CAUSE’s biggest fundraising event – Strictly Come Dancing. This was one of the most memorable and exciting things I have ever done, I encourage any of you that have the chance to participate in a charity run Strictly to do it! I always fancied myself to be a good dancer but that was exclusively reserved for weekend dance floors, however I quickly learned after attending my first training session that I did not have one ounce of rhythm in me…

Everyone else was twirling, kicking and cartwheeling around me whilst I was like yes! I can do a star-jump! We started training in September with the goal of our big Christmas – themed show night at the end of November. I was like a fish out of water during the early training sessions as without any experience and 3 dances to learn my poor wee legs couldn’t keep up. My lovely partner and I got assigned the Cha-Cha to Snoop Dogg’s version of Winter Wonderland (I know lol) and we had one group dance to All I want for Christmas and one to Fairy-tale of New York. So, no pressure eh?

As the weeks of training went on, I started to grow more confident with the aid of everyone involved in my Strictly experience, they were all so kind and encouraging and they helped me every dance – step of the way.  By the time it came to show night in November at the glitzy Stormont Hotel I was a bundle of nerves and yet still filled with so much excitement and anticipation for the night ahead. I tanned myself up, got the lowest cut shirt probably ever worn on a man, and wiggled into my skinny fit velvet trousers – time to Cha – Cha! Our dance went great, I made a couple of tiny mistakes but sure the audience didn’t realise what I was supposed to be doing anyway! The judges loved the dance and most importantly my navy lace shirt was a hit. Our two group dances which book ended the night also went fantastically and it’s safe to say I was completely Mariah Carey’d out at the end of it all.

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An amazing amount of money was raised for CAUSE which is the main reason we did the show in the first place and without the incomparable Anne Holland at the reigns there would have been no show to perform at.

Apart from my amazing experience with Strictly, I’ve had the best time volunteering for CAUSE. I’ve had the opportunity to see what goes on in the day to day running of a charity and how important promotional materials, communications and PR are for a small local charity.

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Most recently I was given the chance to go to a recruitment fair at the Belfast MET Millfield campus and talk to various students looking for volunteering and placement opportunities. I highly recommended CAUSE to all the students I talked to and even promoted CAUSE’s latest Strictly event – Strictly Jigs and Reels. It was a really fun experience and great to see the amount of young people eager to volunteer.

 

I am currently working on developing some promotional materials for CAUSE’s 25th anniversary, having the opportunity to think creatively outside of an educational setting is really fun and rewarding; especially when it is for such a great charity.

I have thoroughly enjoyed my time with CAUSE and can’t wait to see what the rest of their Birthday year has in store! I cannot emphasise enough how important volunteering is, especially for small charities. So, I encourage anyone reading this to even consider volunteering, be it for CAUSE or another charity – I know that you won’t regret it!

Gareth Donnelly is a final year BSc in Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. He can be found on LinkedIn at http://linkedin.com/in/gareth-donnelly-1a6161196 , Twitter – @GarethDonnelly4 and Instagram – @garethd__

The ‘C’ Word

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My family.

No, not that C word, I’m talking about the dreaded C word, CANCER! It was June last year when I heard the following four dreaded words leave my father’s mouth, “Girls, I have cancer.”

It was a normal Friday afternoon for myself and my three sisters. We just got home from our shopping trip in Victoria Square and headed straight up to my room to do the usual fashion show that consists of showing each other our latest purchases from that day (I know typical girls). Mum and dad were away to get “their heads showered” which is understandable as there is only so much ’girl chat’ dad can keep up with in a day. They arrived home shortly after us which is when we were called downstairs for ‘a talk’. I don’t know about you, but when we ALL get called downstairs it’s normally because someone has done something wrong. Immediately we all start asking the question “Oh for goodness sake what have we done this time? who hasn’t emptied the dishwasher?”

Anyway, downstairs we went, and sat nervously on the sofa awaiting our lecture (I was really hoping it wasn’t going to be as long as a lecture in uni). After what felt like a decade of silence, mum finally says “Girls, your dad and I have something to tell you?” Uh oh, what on earth could this be about? ‘they’re getting a divorce’, ‘Mum’s pregnant’? (I was really hoping it wasn’t this one, three sisters stealing my clothes is enough, never mind four sisters doing it) ‘they’ve won the lottery’ (that would have been nice, no more university fees for me) all thoughts I had but never once could I have predicted or prepared for why we were really sat here together.

And that’s when it did, when you don’t predict it, The C word! A word I never thought I would hear, I never thought it would happen to our family. “Girls, I have cancer.” A ‘normal’ day for us quickly turned into a not so normal day. After we all had a quick cry together, due to the initial shock of the news we wanted to get the facts and find out the prognosis. Thankfully, mum went to the hospital with dad and was able to give us this information, dad was also there but as a typical man he was able to retain about 2% of what he was told.

Dad went to get his tonsils privately removed as he was complaining of having a sore throat for over a month. During this operation the doctor found a cancerous growth, one that they couldn’t remove there and then as it was too far on. He was told he would have to endure radiotherapy and chemotherapy, but the prognosis was good (I don’t know if it’s just me, but the words radiotherapy and chemotherapy are scary). Dad was already at stage 3 which was a shock as he obviously didn’t expect anything was wrong bar having tonsillitis. So, here is where I plea that if you feel like something is wrong, even a small thing like a throat infection please get it looked at as it really can be a matter of life or death.

Our family was very matter of fact about the situation and to receive any form of sympathy is very rare (unless of course you break a nail – that’s MAJOR). Therefore, once we got all the facts, we took a very matter of fact approach and instead of dwelling on the negative news, we all remained very positive. Dad was also able to retain a positive mental attitude throughout the duration of his treatment which again encouraged us girls to be positive about the situation. However, I do think this backfired on him as he really didn’t receive any sympathy from us at all, actually if anything it got worse for him. Even when he had to be admitted to hospital and fed through a tube, we all made light of the situation and he was still the brunt of all our jokes.

I guess my life lesson to you from this situation is that no matter how hard you think it is, how hard you think it is going to be or how hard the news seems at first, you can get through it! It’s true what they say, and as cliché as it is, ‘every cloud has a silver lining’ even if you can’t see it at first. I promise you that eventually it will come through. Throughout this difficult time, as a family we relied on each other for support, and although at times it was tough, we all stuck together and as a whole it brought us closer together and strengthened our already strong family bond. I know this may not be the case for you but there is always someone willing to listen and help you through tough times.

Dad’s personal catch phrase is “Living the dream”. Anyone who asks him how he is, the response is always “Living the dream” (I mean how could he not, he has four beautiful daughters and according to my mum a beautiful wife). Together as a family, I’m glad that he is still able to live the dream and to live it with us makes it that bit better.

The photo on the left: Now you can put a face to the name, this is ‘Dad’ when he finally completed his radiotherapy and chemotherapy. 

The photo on the right: My family (Minus Lucy – getting us all together is a very rare occasion) at Dad’s abseil for cancer. Yes, this was the one-time mum didn’t pick out his clothes and he did wear the costume the rest of the day.

Molly Stevenson is a final year BSc in Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found on: Instagram – @molly_stevensonn; Facebook – Molly Stevenson; LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/molly-stevenson-4bb39115b/

 

1-0 to Winter

I’m that person who says “I can’t wait for the dark evenings and crisp winter mornings.” I’m usually bopping around in my boots and beanies, sipping on a hot chocolate, happy that it’s winter again. And I mean, Gavin and Stacey are having a Christmas Special this year after nearly a decade! This should be the best winter ever. But this year, I REGRET SAYING ANYTHING. CAN IT BE JULY AGAIN PLEASE? The winter rut of 2019 hit me hard & the fact I’m struggling through Final Year is not making it any easier.

I’m freezing, I’m tired, I’m uninspired and I’m unmotivated. I feel lazy, irritated (and probably irritating) and I’m not looking after myself, mentally or physically. I was thriving in Summer, living my best life, reaching my goals. But this winter? I’m feeling anything but.

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Enough was enough and a couple of weeks ago for the a thousandth time this year I said to myself, “Catherine, wise up”. I’m blessed with good health, in the final year of a degree I have dreamed of doing since I was 14, living with four of my best friends and fortunate to have many more around me. The last thing I should be doing is feeling sorry for myself because it’s cold and dark outside, I have assignment to do in a degree I signed up for and that the moon is making us all act a little funny. I decided to take it upon myself to find out why I might be feeling this way, and ways in which I can stop it.

Groundhog Day

A common reason we may start to feel stuck in a rut is when every day starts to feel the same. As a final year student with endless work to do, I felt the need to be in the library by 9am typing away, scanning journals and questioning whether this degree was really for me. Attending a lecture and seminar in the afternoon, before heading back to the library for another hour or two just to make myself feel “better”. When really, I was tired and my  heads so fried that I’m not making any progress at all and I had just spent 2 hours on a paragraph that most likely isn’t going to make the final draft of my assignment. Final year was draining me. I thought I was doing myself a favour, working super hard, getting ahead of the game, but I soon realised I was burning myself out and it was affecting me in more ways than one. I even got BANGS in week 5.

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I knew I had to let myself relax, take a chill pill or 5. Coincidentally the next morning Meibh and I had planned to go for a walk up Cavehill and go for a Brunch date afterwards. I know it sounds cliché when they say heading outdoors really clears the head. But seriously, my head hadn’t been as clear in weeks. After the best Avo Toast I’ve ever had, shoutout to Output Espresso, we were true to our white girl selves and went to Starbucks to do some work, where I completed and submitted my first assignment, without feeling stressed. Which is not surprisingly considering studies show that being outdoors lowers stress and enhances creativity. So, the next time you feel under pressure with work, don’t lock yourself in the library, go get some fresh air and relax for a few hours. You’ll be surprised with what work you’ll produce after.

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“Nobody’s Perfect.” (Hannah Montana, 2006).

When having a little snoop around this topic on Google I found an article that explains how Perfectionism can ironically make you feel stuck and effect your progress. Well… My name is Catherine and I’m a perfectionist. Something I thought I should be proud of. I even have it as one of my top qualities on my CV, oops. But after some reading I found out how being a perfectionist will have you going around in circles, never happy with whatever you have done. Completing an assignment will have you saying “could I have done this better?” a thousand times before hitting the submit button on turnitin, rather than giving yourself a pat on the back for completing an assignment which was really hard and challenging and something you should be proud of completing. Learn to squash perfectionism and recognise that something being done is better than being left undone. Focus on completing things, at a standard you’re proud of and show cases your abilities of-course, but move on afterwords and don’t beat yourself up on whether it’s perfect or not. After all, does perfection even exist?

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The little things matter

And then, there was just little things. I asked myself, was I looking after myself? Was I eating well? Was I sleeping enough? Spending time with people who made me feel good and doing things I enjoyed? And to be honest, I wasn’t really. So, I filled my wraps with salad for lunch and added a few pieces of broccoli to my meals at dinner time. I let myself sleep for 8 hours rather than set an alarm for 7.30am at 2am. When my friends at Uni asked me to go for coffee after I said, “I’d love to” rather than “I’m going to go to the library.” I arranged to see friends I hadn’t in a while, making plans I had to look forward to. I got back into some good habits I had let slip, remembered how important it was to get fresh air everyday and most importantly set some time aside just for ME!

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It’s pretty easy to get a little down in the dumps, but you’d be surprised at the little things that can make you feel a little better and help you ride through the storm. But most importantly, be easy on yourself, you’re doing the very best you can.

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Sometimes these feelings may be more than just being stuck in a rut. Such feelings may be signs of something more serious. If what you’re feeling is more than just being stuck in a rut, talk to a friend, a family member, your doctor or contact a mental health helpline right away.

Catherine Maguire is a Final Year year BSc in Communication, Advertising & Marketing student at Ulster University. She can be found on Instagram: catherinelauram and LinkedIn: Catherine Maguire

My Top Favourite Campaigns!

Ever since I started to study PR and started to understand the effort that goes into creating a PR and marketing campaign, I have gained an appreciation for a campaign that can make me stop and think!

For me, the campaigns I remember the most are those were companies use their platforms to highlight the social issues happening all around the world to gain consumers attention to the social issues as well as the product they are promoting.  These campaigns are always very controversial and inspiring, social media however allows everyone to post their opinions and views without focusing on the issues being promoted. Campaigns are becoming increasing more difficult to promote as consumers are always finding ways to avoid watching or listening to ads, which requires companies to work harder than ever to gain our attention.

Here are a few of my favourite Campaigns that focus on social issues:

Nike

“Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.”

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Like many, I didn’t really understand the sacrifice that Kaepernick made when taking a knee during an NFL game, it wasn’t until I seen the Nike campaign that I actually researched what it all actually meant. Nike took a stance on a social issue for their 30th anniversary campaign, the campaign featured former San Francisco 49ers quarterback. Kaepernick took a knee during a pregame playing of the American national anthem in 2016 to protest racial injustice America, as a result of this he has not been signed by another team. This caused outrage among many people including President Trump who attacked the advert ‘’I think it’s a terrible message that [Nike] are sending and the purpose of them doing it.’’

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Many went as far as to burn or cut the Nike logo off their products in solidarity with their country, many felt it was unpatriotic and incited rage among consumers.. However, the campaign actually increased Nikes stocks by 5%.

Following this controversial campaign, Nike also launched a campaign featuring women in sports.

 

‘Dream Crazier’

Nike also released a campaign focusing on ‘crazy’ women in sport. This campaign worked to redefine what it means to be a ‘crazy’ woman and remove the negative connection of the word. It focuses on female athletes who have worked to break down barriers, to inspire the next generation of female athletes.

It features tennis champion Serena Williams who speaks throughout the campaign as she has personal experience of being called over emotional. She was questioned by both the media and social media when she returned to the sport after giving birth to her daughter.  Throughout history women have always been seen to be inferior to men within sport, to this day these negative stereotypes still apply.

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I have always appreciated Nike’s ability to tackle the most controversial issues without worrying how it will affect their brand but focusing more on bringing attention to issues that they support. Nike founder Phil Knight, said “It doesn’t matter how many people hate your brand as long as enough people love it.”

Jigsaw

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Jigsaw is a luxury British Fashion clothing and accessories retailer, that took a stand on immigration with their ‘Heart Immigration’ manifesto which challenged the idea that  anything or anyone 100% British.

NM24This comes at a time when no one knows what is in store for us in regard to Brexit and what this means for immigration. It focuses on the idea that is nothing is ever completely British, it is a little of this and a little of that. This was done exceptionally well by working aside ancestry UK to show how diverse fashion is as ‘British style is not 100% British. In fact, it’s just as diverse as we are’. It received a lot of support from social media as well as critiques who felt that it is not the brands place to speak on such a controversial issue.

Are we ever just one thing, if you look within your family or friend group are they a mixture of different nationalities or all one? I don’t believe any of us are just one. By using none traditional ways of promoting there brand they made me click into their campaign and look at the clothes in a more in-depth way than I would a brand who just use the same pretty pictures with pretty clothes as everyone else.

Gillette

It is  impossible to not know what the ‘me too’ movement is unless you have been living under a rock for the last few years. Gillette is just one of many brands who had to change their stance. They changed their tagline from ”The best a man can get”, replacing it with ”The best men can be”.

As a well-known men’s brand, Gillette challenged sexism, the dangers of toxic masculinity and the importance of setting a good example for boys. Throughout the ad, it shows examples of cyber bullying, sexual harassment and mansplaining. The advert also highlights the proliferation of the phrase “boys will be boys” as a means of excusing harmful or violent behaviour exhibited by young boys.

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This ad has been praised as being ‘pro humanity’ as opposed to ‘anti-male’. Actor Terry Crews supported the campaign ‘I was told over and over that this was not abuse. That this was just a joke. That this was just horseplay. But I can say that one man’s horseplay is another man’s humiliation.”

Throughout the ad, there was many examples of ways for men to improve the negative stereotype surrounding them following such a huge #metoo movement, I felt it was a very well thought out campaign that used the timing of the #metoo movement to their advantage. This is only one step they have take to actively challenge the stereotypes and expectations of what it means to be a man. As a company they have promised to donate $1m a year for three years to non-profit organisations with programs “designed to inspire, educate and help men of all ages achieve their personal “best” and become role models for the next generation”.

Piers Morgan tweeted ‘I’ve used Gillette razors my entire adult life but this is absurd virtue-signalling PC guff may drive me away’. Does he really think anyone cares about his opinion?

Project 84: Calm

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Did you know that 84 men every week commit suicide? It is one of the leading causes of death among men in the UK. CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably) started a conversation about male suicide On World Mental Health Day, by creating 84 sculptures standing on top of This morning Studios in London.

NM20On the projects websites there are names and details of each of the men, who stories were told by those close to them. It shows that no matter where you’re from, what age or race you too can struggle. This campaign was implemented to put pressure on the government to make a change, this was achieved by the first UK suicide prevention minister being appointed. This campaign raised awareness for a every growing issue within the UK with  powerful message in a dignified way.

 

I can’t wait to see what campaigns are coming in 2020, as I embark on a carer in PR myself.

Niamh McNally is a final year BSc Communications Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found on Twitter: @NiamhMc_Nally 

 

Odd One Out

As with any university student, the thought of picking a dissertation topic that you will put blood, sweat and most definitely tears in is a daunting prospect. I know I wanted to pick a topic that firstly I found interesting and secondly one that is a current issue in today’s society. With much thought, I decided to research the effects that social media has on our self- esteem and body image.

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One of my main inspirations for researching this topic was through watching a BBC Three documentary, called ‘Jesy Nelson; ‘Odd One Out.’’ We all remember Jesy as being on the X Factor in 2011, one of the four members of the girl group Little Mix. As a 12-year-old girl, I was in awe of Little Mix, an all-girl group filled with ‘ordinary’ happy go lucky girls, who had just won one of the biggest TV shows in the UK. Being thrown into fame and fortune and not being able to walk down the street without everyone knowing you, is probably a dream for many. However, for Jesy Nelson she quickly wished she had never entered and desperately longed for the life she once had.

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Watching the documentary was genuinely heartbreaking; seeing someone in the spot light who seems to have everything you could possibly want in life so depressed and dispirited. It is completely beyond my comprehension as to why anyone can fulfil pleasure through being an online troll and bringing others down for their own satisfaction. These trolls hide behind keyboards and don’t take a second to think about the impact their words have on the individual. The tweets circling about Jesy were truly repulsive: ‘The fat ugly one.’….. ‘Go kill yourself.’…… ‘Wide load coming through.’…. ‘4 members 5 chins.’ …. ‘Saggy, baggy, rough and don’t get me started on her face.’

 Controversial Katie Hopkins added further unnecessary fuel to the fire tweeting: ‘Packet mix have still got a chubber in their ranks. Less Little Mix more pick n mix.’ Jesy gave an authentic, distressing account to the consequence of the sheer level of hatred she was receiving, as she began starving herself which led to her attempting to take her own life in 2013. We are all guilty of putting celebrities on this unrealistic pedestal, I know I do!  Celebrities tend to have a god like status with a human face, however this documentary highlighted just how ‘human’ celebrities are, with the same emotions any sane person would have in this situation.

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Jesy Nelson’s documentary aired on 12thSeptember 2019, breaking the BBC Three record with 3.3 million views, 64% of which were 16-34 year olds. The film tackles mental health issues and appears to have made a real difference to those going through similar experiences. One fan tweeted: ‘The #OddOneOut Jesy Nelson documentary is one of the saddest and scary things I have ever watched. This needs to be shown everywhere to teach people the devastating effects their words and comments have. Be kind. Always.’  Another fan tweeted: ‘My favourite from day one. The girl I saw so much of myself in. Please know that not everything you see on social media is what it seems. We are all human beings.’ The amount of support Jesy has received following the release of the film has been staggering.

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I really do recommend everyone to watch this documentary, I have a lot of admiration for Jesy Nelson, in being so brave and for sharing such a deeply personal and inspiring message.  The influence that mass media has on self-esteem and body image, can be devastating. This particular case showed just how impactful vile comments can be, leading to body dissatisfaction and other health concerns including; eating disorders, low self-esteem, and depression. We all come in different shapes and sizes and shouldn’t let the opinions of others bring us down. I know that this film has empowered women from all over Britain and here in Ireland to embrace the body they’ve been given and not to let petty comments from petty people affect you.

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If I haven’t bored you and you’ve got this far please if you can take one thing from this blog post; be nice to people, no matter WHO they are, everyone’s fighting a battle others know nothing about. Now on that note off I go to start this dissertation.

 

Hannah Colgan is a final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found at: LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/hannah-colgan-b65179166/ and Instagram – @Hannahcolgan890

 

Cadbury Have Gone Quiet

If you’ve been to the shops recently and fancied yourself some chocolate, you might have  noticed that there’s something missing on Cadbury wrappers. It’s words.

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Most people have experienced moments where older people want to strike up a conversation and tell never-ending stories, whether they are your own family members, customers, or just people you meet in public. It can be a lovely interaction, or maybe you need to get moving. Either way, sometimes we forget that this could be due to the fact that they’re lonely and just want someone to chat to.

Cadbury are trying to combat this loneliness by giving people the opportunity to “donate their words” because in the UK, 1.4 million older people suffer from loneliness and 225,000 of them often go a whole week without speaking to anyone. They will be donating to Age UK with 30p of each Cadbury bar bought.

Sue Perkins put herself in the shoes of many older people and lived in isolation for 30 hours, which you can watch below.

It’s hard to imagine what complete isolation is like, because for many of us, even if we go a couple of days not physically socialising, we still have our phones to text, call, or communicate through social media. If we don’t use that, we still have TV’s, radios, games consoles or streaming services like Netflix to keep us entertained. How sue spent 30 hours, is unfortunately typical for a lot of older people.

Age UK say that “loneliness is associated with depression, sleep problems, impaired cognitive health, heightened vascular resistance, hypertension, psychological stress and mental health problems.” We can’t begin to imagine what growing older whilst dealing with any of these issues could feel like. Age UK have also looked at different causes of loneliness associated with old aged people including:

  • Deterioration of social networking: friends or family members live far, or no longer be living. They may not have had any children and could be divorced or widowed, and it’s hard to socialise or meet people when you’re not working.
  • Health issues: as we get older, our physical and mental health can deteriorate. We may need carers, have limited mobility, or illnesses such as dementia which can affect our ability to socialise effectively.
  • Individual characteristics: factors such as ethnicity, religion, sexuality, socioeconomic status etc. can cause isolation, depending on the circumstances.
  • Neighbourhood: having a lack of neighbourliness within the area, reputation of the area and even the structure and architecture of an area can affect socialisation for older people.

Unfortunately, there is no local support here in Northern Ireland. However, if you wanted to volunteer at a local Age UK shop, or pop in and get some stylish finds whilst also donating – you can find your nearest Age UK charity shop using their finder map.

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Cadbury and Age UK are urging people to not only donate, but take some time out of their day to help older people in and out of their lives. Here’s what you can do:

  1. Start a conversation with an older person
  2. Call an older relative
  3. Check in on a older neighbour
  4. Volunteer with Age UK

MM1We might take older people for granted, or even ignore them. But it’s important to acknowledge that they’re people just like everyone else and have lived rich and interesting lives, probably filled with great advice for the rest of us.

It’s great that such a famous company are using a frequently purchased product to start a conversation about loneliness in older people. Not only that, but they are taking earned money from a product, and donating it to something of a greater significance, that also needs it more. Not only are Age UK and older people gaining more support and donations, but Cadbury are also creating a positive and helpful appearance for their company. It’s a win-win!

To find out more information, you can visit:

Age UK – Donate Your Words

Age UK – Combating Loneliness

 

Maya McCloskey is a final year Bsc Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found on Twitter: @maya_papaya30 and Instagram: @maya_mcc

Did the Joker make cents

Why is the joker one of the most controversial films of 2019?

Because it’s a disturbing masterpiece.

Unless you have been living under a rock then you will have probably heard of one of the most notorious films of 2019, The Joker. RD10

Looking back on previous Joker films, you see how the Joker is always portrayed as the Villain and batman the hero. After taking to the most critical form of social media (Twitter), I researched the Joker and read something that really struck a chord.

“Childhood is when you idolize Batman, Adulthood is when you realize the Joker made more sense”.

Throughout the movie we see how facing trauma in childhood can lead to mental illness, psychosis through to psychopathy in adulthood, and the question that runs through my mind is “Could this have been prevented?”. We see how the system and society fail Arthur several times. You always hear people preaching the phrase “you don’t know what someone is going through behind closed doors” but yet, Arthur was continuously judged and misinterpreted many times throughout the film. It was sad that he had to carry around a card explaining to the people he had a mental illness because at the end of the day he doesn’t owe anyone an explanation.

From start to finish we see multiple times the Joker continuously forcing a smile, he was just a regular guy with mental illness looking to feel better. There is a clear image RD12painted from the beginning that society has always been against people like the Joker, so are we surprised when the city turns in to chaos and joins him in his rebellion?

The first shooting was a taste for the joker in what it felt like to get revenge on the rich. He was continuously shot down and mocked by the rich men on the train and in everyday life, so was it any wonder that he enjoyed it and done a victory dance. Once his actions were recognized by the city, he realized that people stood with him and wanted to make a stand for social justice.

“For my whole life, I didn’t know if I even really existed. But I do, and people are starting to notice”. – Joker

The rich are represented as Thomas Wayne in the movie, ironically painted as a hero, and the ‘perfect man’ to represent Gotham city. We soon learn that it’s all a fake facade and that the Rich only looks out for the Rich. Arthur always looked up to Thomas Wayne and Murray, until he learned that he was a sympathizer for them.

The film was so raw and real, it shows how things just go from bad to worse for Arthur. RD11
Once he realizes he was adopted and abused, and that his entire life has been a lie, you can see these things slowly shaping him into the insane genius that is the Joker. A powerful scene in the movie is when, Arthur starts dancing down the steps giving in, accepting and transforming into the Joker. He dances into a pool of madness and his insanity blossoms from here.

A large talk surrounding the movie is, ‘does it correlate to the world we live in today’? People think that the Joker was not just a movie but that it was art and real life. The movie does link closely to today’s society, and it addresses the real-life struggles we face today.  The rich are still powerful and being treated superior, and mental health is still on the rise and there’s not much being done to stop it. Something I find interesting is the subtle quotes within the movie that do relate to real life. A favorite one of mines is when the Joker tells an RD3offensive joke, Murray scolds him for it saying you can’t tell jokes like that and then the Joker talks about how easily offended people are these days. I feel like this is real, in today’s society you always have to watch what you say or tiptoe around everyone as someone is always offended about something.

We see subtle references from the ‘Dark knight rising (2008)’ and ‘The Joker (2019)’, both Jokers are responsible for killing people, but we feel bad for one and yet not the other. We watch what Arthur goes through and understand his transition into the Joker, whereas we view the other one like a mad man.

A question to ask is “are we responsible for creating monsters?”. We see the iconic scene towards the end, where Joker paints on a smile with his own blood. This scene will always be remembered as the scene in which the Joker tried to smile through the pain until the pain made him smile.

So, I think the answer to the question above is, yes… To some extent, I think we as a society need to take some responsibility for creating ‘monsters’. If everyone was nice to each other in real life and not just online would mental health so largely consume so many of us?

Moral of the story in real life and behind The Joker movie is:

Be careful how you treat people.

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Rachael Diamond is a final year Bsc Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found at: Twitter – @rachaeldiamond and LinkedIn @rachaeldiamond.