The Horrors of Romanticizing Abuse and The Psychology of Harley Quinn

So… This is your idea romance, eh?
Source: BJA007 on Imgur

I’m going to try hammer this one out quickly on the grounds that, while it clearly needs to be said, it’s not something I enjoy talking about.

So, with the release (and subsequent lukewarm reception) of Suicide Squad, it seems that DC Fans have started clamoring about a topic that never fails to infuriate me whenever people start talking about it; the relationship between well-known Batman villains Harley Quinn and The Joker.

Nearly everyone I know has, at one point, said that they want a romance like these two. But here’s the rub – they often say this without realizing or even in spite of the fact that The Joker is an abusive and manipulative sociopath and Harley is most likely suffering from deep mental scars that extend far beyond even the damage he’s done.

For those not familiar with her backstory, Harley – real name; Dr. Harleen Frances Quinzel (yes, the bubble-headed, bleach blonde, jester girl has a PhD) – was a graduate of Gotham State University where she excelled in Gymnastics and Psychology. After finally getting a job at Arkham Asylum and eager to start analyzing their most notorious super-criminals, she found herself locked in a battle of wits and egos with The Joker that ended with him seducing her to aid his escape on multiple occasions and eventually to join up as his most frequent collaborator.

But here’s the thing, The Joker is largely incapable of returning that love. If he has any love in his heart, it’s for the pain and chaos he causes. The closest he can be said to have come to loving a human being is his obsession with Batman. And that love for inflicting pain and disregard for human life is shown in the way he routinely scolds and beats Harley. For god’s sake, he threw her out of a 3-story window!

What’s more, Harley’s behavior is supported by psychology. There are the obvious implications of Stockholm Syndrome, but even her slowly growing to believe she could identify with Joker is supported by science. While working in Arkham, she clearly spent enough time with him for Emotional Contagion – the tendency for humans to subconsciously imitate the emotions of others – to set in. With enough time under her skin, it was only a matter of time before Shared Psychotic Disorder (also known as Folie à deux or ‘madness of two’) took hold and she started emulating his Anti-Social Personality Disorder under the delusion of romance.

So, are we clear here? Harley and Joker are not romantic; they are sick. Harley needs counseling to deal with her years of abuse and Joker needs to be placed in solitary confinement. When you say you want a love like theirs, you aren’t being Bonnie with Clyde (which would be bad enough) – you’re being one of those weirdos that send love letters to serial killers.

Seriously, the best thing that Injustice: Gods Among Us ever did was give us the moment that the comics took forever to do; having Harley figuratively nail Chuckles the Ass-Clown to the F***ING wall.

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Why Katie Ka-boom Was The Worst Thing To Happen To Animaniacs

Don’t look at me with that cutesy smile, you conniving trollop. I know your evil thoughts are brewing…
Source: legion1979.tumblr.com

Last night, my friends and I celebrated the arrival of Animaniacs on Netflix by binge-watching over tacos. It was nice to see how most of the show still holds up after over two decades.

That said, nothing is without sin. And the biggest sin in this show’s record, at least in my mind, is the teenage terror that is Katie Ka-Boom.

If you don’t remember Katie, good for you – you were able to blank her out of your mind and ignore her while waiting for more Slappy Squirrel segments like my younger self. But now, looking back, there is just so much wrong with her as a character and I understand why she never took off as a staple of the show or was accepted by the fans. For instance…

She’s not funny

The entire premise of the Katie Ka-Boom segments is that Katie is a teenage girl who loses her mind with every minor social misstep or foible. The twist in this cliché is that she transforms into a series of grotesque monsters based on the stressor of the day which ultimately result in the terrorization of her family and destruction of the house – usually through a massive explosion; hence her name.

There is a germ of a good idea here that could have been made into a passable laugh, but there is no variation to the theme. They even reuse the same lines and gags. It’s just incredibly lazy writing.

And, of course, when I’m not laughing at the show, I’m asking plot-hole exposing questions that further pull me out of the experience like, “Why does Katie transform like that? Is she related to Bruce Banner” or, “How does she even HAVE a social life to fret over? Wouldn’t the other kids at school be too afraid to talk to her knowing she demolishes her home on a daily basis?”

There are many sins one can commit in entertainment, but not being funny in a comedy (or not entertaining in any regard) is the worst because it can only bring the other problems into clearer view.

She’s a living middle finger to teens and women

There are two things we praise Animaniacs for consistently; it’s desire to treat it’s younger audience as intelligent, critical people and it’s progressive depiction of women.

On the youth end, the show was known for surprisingly informative segments shipped as comedy as well as respecting their maturity with some more *ahem* ‘adult humor.’

As for the women of Animaniacs, they had a knack for independence and proving their capableness in hard times. Even blatantly sexualized characters like Hello Nurse and Minerva Mink demonstrated amazing intellect and cunning; proving they had the brain to complement their beauty.

So, imagine how much of a kick in the head it is to see a character like Katie who basically says that all teens – especially teen women – are irrational, emotionally unstable, sub-humans.

… Yeah. kinda makes you angry, doesn’t it? But not as angry as when you realize that…

She is demonstrably and radically evil

Let’s cut through the crap and get to the big point; this is the story of a spoiled rotten child oppressing and controlling her family through violence in order to get everything she wants. You know what we call that in the real world? DOMESTIC ABUSE.

Yes, in a world of whimsy and cartoon antics, there exist abuse victims. There was one episode in particular (the clip of which I sadly can’t find online) that demonstrated this shockingly well when, for a brief moment after being corrected by Katie, her mother quickly recoils back in fear with arms raised saying, “my mistake.” Speaking as someone with a minor background in psychology, such actions and hyper-awareness in social situations are clear symptoms of an abuse victim.

If the show just had a passable exaggeration beyond the supernatural powers, it could have played itself off as a dark comedy. But, as we have established, Katie Ka-Boom is NOT funny; she’s evil. Like, the ‘monster-that we-need-The-Avengers-to-fight’ kind of evil.