Problematic Representation of Psychopaths and Sociopaths
So I was in a full on technical conversation today about the popular Netflix series, ‘13 Reasons Why’. You’ve probably heard of it so I won’t bother going into too much detail about it. It’s basically about a girl who committed suicide and left 13 tapes for people to do with her suicide. There’s quite a strong belief by many people I’ve spoken too, in that it represents suicide in a bad light. A bad, false representation. And it got me thinking generally about bad representations, in my opinion anyway, so I wanted to talk about the way people romanticize sociopaths and psychopaths. This topic has always gotten to me so it’s just as well I’m writing about it now.
I used to be obsessed with reading when I was like 12, usually wasting my money on books. But then slowly I began to move further away from it. And the reason why is because all the books from then on were the same utter shite. It was the same old romance story with the mysterious guy or girl (psychopath or sociopath) and a normal guy/girl who finds them and changes their heart. Every. Single. Time.
What’s the problem?
All in all, most of the plot is just the psychopath or sociopath being an asshole to everyone but the normal protagonist, making them feel special. Having said that, sometimes the normal protagonist also gets treated like shit by them – but instantly forgives them and it’s all happy happy again. Books like these were always focused on this kind of relationship that people can only describe at ‘goals’. You know you see tacky pictures of it everywhere and people are in love with the concept of a relationship goal like this. But let’s be honest here…is it really relationship goals?
This kind of narrative and relationship within the plot sets up the idea for the poor naїve reader that she can find her dream psychopath. The psychopath who will protect her and only her. The beautiful mysterious stranger is what they expect. The reader truly believes after reading these stories that they can melt the heart of these people. The whole happily ever after malarky comes afterwards, or so they like to think.
NO! For god’s sake no. You know psychopaths and sociopaths aren’t nice people don’t you? Psychopaths and sociopaths are labeled that for a reason. They won’t treat you with respect or as an equal with kindness and politeness. They’re rude, toxic, arrogant and sometimes can be dangerous you know?
The Joker and Harley Quinn
My first prime example is Harley Quinn and Joker’s relationship from DC comics and films.
After ‘Suicide Squad’, swarms of people (mainly teenage girls) exploded about having a “cute couple” relationship like Harley and The Joker. If you’ve ever even read the comics, you’d know that The Joker is actually abusive towards Harley, all different forms of abuse. Why? Because he’s a villainous psychopath if you didn’t guess already. He’s not a nice guy. He uses Harley Quinn. Love doesn’t come into it. A factor of being a sociopath/psychopath is that you rarely feel love or emotions towards anyone.
The Joker’s main drive is to kill the Batman, or, to prove that rules are completely meaningless. The Joker is out to break society and everyone in it. He isn’t doing all this to save and win the heart of Harley Quinn. It was never, ever like that. The Joker only took Harley because of her dedication to him, he knew she’d do anything for him. She’s his tool. I hate to break it to you, but you’ll just get hurt if you end up in a relationship like this one.
Another discussion to throw into the mix, is everyone’s favourite high functioning sociopath – Sherlock Holmes. Now, don’t get me wrong I love Sherlock and the entire series was marvellous. He was a lone wolf with the exception of a handful of people, and in the end did save the world didn’t he? Saved the world from a bigger sociopath which is quite funny actually. He is a good guy to be honest, but even when you look into it, he is still a dick to people. He’s rude, arrogant and blah blah blah.
Sherlock arguably was never really given a love interest, because the concept of love simply doesn’t interest him. The people of tumblr can argue the ship Sherlock and John Watson (Johnlock) *shivers*, and perhaps The Woman (Irene Adler). Also in a couple episodes of the series, a character Janine was Sherlock’s girlfriend at one point. It seemed nice and finally Sherlock had found someone, but in the end he used her to get into a building, by tricking her into a proposal. Key word being “used” here. Also through something like a proposal, did he care? No. No he didn’t. He’s a high functioning sociopath for a reason. Sherlock is a well crafted character I have to admit, but there’s still an element of glamorizing sociopaths intertwined within the series.
And last, but not least, I want to talk about Tate Langdon from the popular series, ‘American Horror Story’. Literally I don’t even know where to begin with this one. There’s just too much wrong with this character. It’s problematic. He’s a typical teenage heartthrob isn’t he? Extremely interesting to girls because he likes things that are out of the ordinary. Against all normal things, relatable right?
He also shot up a fucking high school killing innocent people and also raped Violet’s mother, just to put the cherry on top. It’s not right. He’s still described as an angel that fell from heaven and gorgeous. Sure, I’ll be the first to admit he’s pretty good looking. But for fucks sake he killed people. HE ISN’T A GOOD PERSON! Guaranteed if someone did what Tate did, but perhaps wasn’t as good looking, the reactions to him would be a little different. It would be considered inappropriate and people would be going off it. American Horror Story is literally glamorizing a psychopath, and worse, people are accepting it as the norm. Can literally nobody see this as problematic?
I’m not going to go on to say burn all the books, series and movies that glamourize this. How petty do you think I am? I just think people need to be aware of the kind of messages these kind of characters and relationships send out to people, and the reality of it.