Tis that time of year when flower sales are up, chocolate boxes are available in heart shapes, and single people panic because they don’t have a date. Yes, it’s Valentine’s Day. The time of year where Hallmark has deemed it necessary to have someone “special” in your life, or else…you’re missing out. Couples dislike each other all year round, but as long as they have a fabulous Valentine’s Day, all is forgiven. Speaking of couples you would not want to emulate, DC’s Harley Quinn and the Joker have been one of the most well-known couples since the pair got together in the early 90s.
The Difference Between Reality and Fiction
You would never want a relationship like the one the Joker and Harley Quinn. If your relationship resembles this classic DC comic book couple in any way…GET OUT. Immediately.
While fiction can sometimes be a reflection of our own struggles and personality traits or who we hope to achieve to be, sometimes it’s just fiction. Star Trek showed us a world beyond racism, sexism, classism, and more, while other types of fictional stories give us characters like The Punisher. A world free of racism? Yes, please. But, there’s no way we’d want someone like Frank Castle roaming the streets. Though, that’s not to say we don’t love him.
Who Is This Crazy Couple?
If you’re like most of us, there’s a strong likelihood that you grew up on Batman: The Animated Series. You may have loved the Joker and Harley and bought ‘Mad Love’ to celebrate that obsession. Fast forward to today, and you’re being shown how toxic this couple really is and in many outlets, Harley Quinn is shown as breaking free from Mr. J. Which, is great. It’s important to show a strong woman who was blinded by her obsession with someone break free from that abuse and be themselves again. Young girls need that sort of role model. Even if Harley Quinn may sometimes be the “bad guy” and maybe not the best role model you’d want for your daughter, it shows that no matter who you are, you do not deserve to be abused by someone who claims to love you. Let me make that point perfectly clear; Harley Quinn and the Joker should never and would never exist in real life. Their relationship is not meant to be a blueprint. If you say you want to find your “Harley Quinn” or your “Mr. J” then I hope you just mean you’re looking for that “ride or die” person, not someone who will physically or emotionally hurt you…or toss you into a vat of acid.
Can You Be a Fan?
Can you still recognize all of this and still have a special place in your heart for Mr. J and Harley Quinn? Absolutely. Are you allowed to love watching Harley Quinn find liberation from the Joker? 100%, yes. In fact, Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn (boy is that a mouthful) features Harley breaking away from the Joker. The Harley Quinn animated series on the DC Universe app depicted this break up perfectly. In fact, it did a great job of showcasing how difficult it is to get away from your abuser, because you were brainwashed to love them. Even if they broke your heart, you’re desperate for their approval. Harley Quinn, the series; really did an amazing job with this, demonstrating why positive self-esteem and a good support system are pivotal in breaking the cycle.
You can also, though; love Harley Quinn and the Joker in the comics, the animated shows (BTAS), and even this couple in 2016’s Suicide Squad. Loving their relationship on a fictional level should not get you “canceled” or mean you aren’t progressive. It shouldn’t mean that you don’t believe in victims’ rights. Dr. Harleen Quinzel’s first appearance was in Batman: The Animated Series in 1992. Her origin will always be associated with the Joker. And if you are trying to cancel the Joker for being the Joker, please remember that he is, in fact; a villain. He should never be looked at as a staple for anything positive (although, the live-action Joker movie was phenomenal and every villain has an origin story; no one is born evil).
Why Harley Quinn is More than “The Joker’s Girlfriend”
Harley Quinn is at her best when she is just as wicked as the Joker. We love her in the Batman video games and there are times, I just don’t want to see her as an anti-hero instead of a villain. Then again, Harley is always more human than the Joker. In the end, Harley is just a love-stuck person who was led into a dark hole by this person. She was corrupted and Harley may never be the person she was before the Joker. Originally, Harley’s transformation was brought on by the simple power of “persuasion” and obsession. After the New 52 turn in DC Comics, Harley was transformed against her will – in a vat of acid. Either way, she’s been turned and will never go backward.
We should celebrate Harley’s “emancipation” and see that survivors can get out of their abusive relationships. While you cheer her on, you don’t need to put people down who simply like the fictional “craziness” that both Harley and the Joker exude. After all, isn’t escapism and losing yourself in a good story what fiction is all about?
What Have We Learned?
Moral of the story? It’s just fiction. You’re free to like whatever you want. And if you’re in an abusive relationship, please leave. You deserve so much more. Because we do take things like domestic abuse seriously, please reach out to the National Hotline if you or someone you know is in one of these horrific relationships at 1−800−799−SAFE(7233).
Happy Valentine’s Day!
Proofread by Kelly Kantrowitz.
A girl with too many fandoms to count.