COLUMN: Boycott The Joker

Noah Pearson

OPINIONS EDITOR

Popular media tends to paint people with mental illnesses as people with an inclination towards violence. These portrayals are inaccurate and while fictional, shape public perception of people with mental illnesses.

The Joker is a classic character that gets revisited every several years, and every time his role is characterized by stereotypes of mentally ill people, and people applaud and celebrate these portrayals en masse.

He is a mass murderer, bank robber, and terrorist on a grand scale and besides his clown makeup, is known for his instability and his “insanity.”

Often the Joker’s origin is that of a man who is abused and turns his abuse against society through violence. In this upcoming Warner Bros. depiction, he is a mentally ill person whose illness becomes so unmanageable, he devolves into violence.

The trailer makes specific reference to the Joker being someone who is mentally ill. They even go so far as to show imagery parallel to how people with mental illnesses can be treated in real life, however, the idea that he would then become a massive terrorist is simply not true.

The reason this is especially problematic is because in real life, people with mental illnesses are criminalized for their behavior as opposed to helped, and are criminalized at a disproportionate rate to the amount of crime they are responsible for. While making up only 3-5% of violent acts, they make up for a rising percent of the prison population.

In New York in 2000, there were only 5,000 patients with a mental illness in a hospital, but 72,000 in the New York Department of Corrections, 8 times as much as it was in 1973.

While we cannot define any one problem as the cause of this kind of discrimination, negative representation in a likely box office breaking film is not helping.

Art has always shaped the way the public perceives groups of people. When “Birth Of A Nation” came out, there was a resurgence of the Klu Klux Klan, and they began using their iconic burning cross after it was used in the movie.

When writers chose to create characters based on problematic stereotypes, it is on the consumer to respond. We have the option of supporting harmful stereotypes by seeing the movie, or the option of telling these creators we are not willing to support stereotypical characters and boycott movies like the Joker.

While fiction has no obligation to be based in reality, creators need to be considerate about how their characters, although not fictional, will have an impact on how people act in real life. This is especially true for marginalized groups of people, and we can no longer let problematic projects gain such wide success.

We have come too far as a society both educationally and creatively to support a tired trope such as a person with a mental illness becoming unhinged and hurting people. There is simply no excuse for us to continue to support films like the joker. Many more will come, but the Joker is a quickly upcoming opportunity to show Hollywood that these problematic tropes will no longer be an option and we can only do that by not showing up.

COLUMN: Respect black performance spaces

Noah Pearson

OPINIONS EDITOR

Support for black artists is important. However, when nonblack people enter these spaces, there needs to be an increased sense of respect and a willingness to learn.

Too often audiences are not prepared for how black culture manifests in performance art. It is loud, it is unconventional, it is impure, it is edgy; it is everything nonblack performance art is and more that many nonblack people are ready to perceive.

When black actors and comedians use African American Vernacular English, it is met with laughter; when black musicians perform well but are not as proficient technically, they are written off as bad musicians.

What is worse than any of this is that it happens regardless of the context. Even if black performers are expressing pain or race related trauma, their powerful testimony is disregarded simply because they said “you is” instead of “you are.”

Audiences laugh at racial slurs and talk during quiet scenes simply because the means of expression used in a given artform are different than those in nonblack traditions.

Black artists have to work twice as hard to get half as far as white artists in any performance space. When black artists take the initiative to create their own spaces in line with their own traditions, they are still mocked.

When attending a performance, it makes sense to be critical: performers mess up, things go wrong, and it makes us feel smart to comment on it and laugh.

However, it is important to understand where it is appropriate. When we watch operas in Italian, we do not judge them on their ability to speak English. When we attend a gallery, we do not judge the artist on their ability to play the drums.

Criticism can be great, but when we see black art, why should we judge it through a white performance art lens?

All art can be enjoyed by everyone, but a sense of respect and a gauge of who we are in relation to the audience is needed.

Just because a performance is not what we are used to does not mean it is not good, and it does not mean mocking it is okay. When having the privilege to observe another culture’s art in action, an audience should be grateful. An audience should be trying their best to observe the norms practiced by others in that space, and certainly should not act in ways they never would otherwise.

Respect should be the standard, even if we are not totally sure what is going on. We owe it to all artists to give them an opportunity to showcase their best, but that is impossible if they are being judged according to a standard they never set out to meet.

COLUMN: SGA is slacking

Nova Uriostegui

COLUMNIST

As an organization run by students for the students, Student Government Association has been slacking on including the voices of the individuals they are supposed to represent. It really has not been clear what they have done for the students besides approve budgets, cut budgets, and reprimand organizations for not attending legislator meetings.

The information SGA provides to the students seems to be skewed in the direction of student leaders and individuals who are involved in organizations, and they miss the mark with the rest of the student body. Most of the information they are relaying to students is done in such a way that unless you are an active student leader, you just might miss.

In between a crammed protective hour when meetings are held, the navigation of Engage as an every day student for the minutes, and legislator meetings every now and again, the information they discuss and the way people can get their concerns to the Board of Trustees needs to be clearer and more accessible.

Unfortunately, the BOT meetings are closed to the public, and in order to be able to sit in, you must be invited. This is a big issue as well since SGA could simply sugar coat everything as to keep the board members happy or oblivious.

Student Government Association is meant to bridge the gap between the student body and administration, as well as the BOT; however, it seems this year they have almost closed the bridge, or at least have not been maintaining it.

The SGA executive board meets with a select few BOT members during the Student Life Committee, and all they do is show the trustees what they have done for the year.

Last year, there was a survey sent out before the BOT, by SGA, that asked for student input. It was sent to the student body, and SGA received and presented the feedback.

This year, no such thing has happened; they did not ask for the voices they are supposed to be representing, and not many events connecting with the students has happened either, or at least it has felt that way. No more civic conversations, open forums, or even metra pass giveaways. It seems like there has been more drama and entitlement as a replacement.

Not every issue that students bring up can be addressed in one meeting nor does every issue have a simple solution the board members can just sign into action, but simply bringing something up to the trustees to have them think is a reasonable goal that should not take much from our SGA.

Until they have public sessions, we have to settle for the image that the members of SGA create on our behalf.

Let SGA know your concerns sooner rather than later. The BOT members have meetings once a semester on campus, so tell SGA what you want them to hear.

We can only hope that SGA does their job, and as of right now, it seems like a lot is being swept under the rug. Maybe someday the BOT will see the need for public sessions, but until then, we have to hold SGA to a higher standard.

COLUMN: It is time to stop celebrating firsts, and start creating dynasties

Noah Pearson
Opinions Editor

Representation matters. Everyone loves to see people like them trailblaze and become the first person of their race/religion/gender to break glass ceilings. However, when no one follows in their lead, their triumph was ultimately for nothing.

At this year’s Oscars, we celebrated many firsts such as “Roma” being the first Mexican film to win the Best Foreign Language Picture or Ruth Carter and Hannah Beechler being the first black women to win Best Costume Design and Production Design for “Black Panther.”

While any win is good for black people, what struck me more than these “firsts” was Mahershala Ali’s win of Best Supporting Actor for “Green Book”, making him the second black  actor to win multiple Oscars for acting—second to Denzel Washington.

It is disappointing that in 91 years of Oscars, there have been so many firsts, but only two black actors have won more than one Oscar.

This is a problem because I do not know if anyone can name the first white Academy Award winner, and I feel people are even less likely to be able to name the second.

This does not stop with Academy Awards. This generation has seen few, if any, white firsts in any field from the Oscars to the White House, a field where we are still observing firsts for minorities.

In 1870, five years after the abolition of slavery, America saw its first black congressman. Almost 150 years later, states like California are just now electing their first black representatives.

What is the point of blazing a trail that will ultimately remain empty for 150 years? We complain about a lack of representation in all aspects of our lives, but we do not invest in representation.

We must shift from a culture that does not leave “firsts” behind. What this will take is in-depth involvement and political education.

This year Chicago will be electing its first black female mayor. We have reached a historical point in which no matter what the outcome of this election is, the winner will be a black woman.

We can be proud of this, we can call this progress, but the true demonstration of progress will be in four years.

We can celebrate firsts, we can break down walls, and we can shatter glass ceilings but if our firsts have no walls, no roof, and no one to protect them, then progress will never actually be made.


COLUMN: Our name should not be the priority

Nova Uriostegui
Columnist

Elmhurst College vs Elmhurst University should not be a conversation our campus should be having, at least not right now.

We need to talk about how we can set the campus up to be worthy of the prospective students we are trying to appeal to, not just rebranding or structural changes.

If we are going to market ourselves as a university to rope in future students and international students, we need to take care of our own students first. We need to take care of our campus.

We need to be talking about the new living spaces such as True Colors or Honors housing, and how Honors has an air conditioned space, and True Colors does not.

We need to talk about how we can prevent another student experiencing heat stroke in their own dorm and having to be moved within the first few weeks of the fall semester.

We need to be talking about the older buildings on campus that flood, and the outdated classrooms all across campus.

Why does Circle Hall have smart classrooms for majors like psychology and speech pathology, yet art majors are still having to use chalkboards in Old Main?

We need to talk about our bad retention. Why are students not returning? We have a big enrollment, but it means nothing if those same students are not following the path to become graduates of EC.

It seems that all these issues are being tabled for the name change discussion and who will pay for the rebranding of the campus (which will probably be students in the end), as well as the timeline of when these changes will happen.

There is so much information hidden from the average student, and that is wrong. The everyday student deserves to know when the Board of Trustees talk about tuition increases, and what the numbers look like beforehand, not after the vote is already placed.

We should not be focusing on whether or not EC should change its name while at the same time, EC rarely involves students in decisions such as this.

EC feels like it is more focused on the quantity of students it brings in rather than the quality of campus and resources it provides once they arrive and become settled.

The campus has moved too fast on the vote and provided little time for student feedback.

The Board of Trustees members are supposed to vote on the name change March 16, and we just recently got the survey for our opinions on the idea.

The only ethical step would be for the Board of Trustees to table the discussion until student responses have been considered.

We have students who are being put at a disadvantage of the campus because of our mediocre buildings and resources, and all EC seems to be thinking about is how we can bring more students in when we barely are helping the ones we already have.

Our priorities need to change before we think about changing our name. We need to table this discussion.