Author Archives: Jade Sylvan

About Jade Sylvan

I'm an author, poet, and performing artist based in Cambridge, MA. Read more about my work at http://jadesylvan.com

#3 – Why It Matters That Harley Quinn & Joker’s Relationship Is Abusive

the-joker-and-harley-quinnstill-a-better-love-story-than-twilight-for-joker-and-harley-quinn-321zjlyx8qdck0k0p6xhca

Our third anniversary is tomorrow! We are counting down the top-ten most-read posts from the last year.

 

Harley Quinn and the Joker’s relationship is abusive. It has been from the beginning, way back in Batman the Animated Series. In her second appearance ever, Joker force-feeds her fish after she tells him she can’t eat it and she throws up. Later in the series Joker gets mad at her for stepping on his joke and he throws her out a window. There is no way to read this any other way. This relationship appears equally toxic in the comics and video games that feature the couple. Joker hits Harley, tries to kill her, insults her and dehumanizes her constantly, then says something sweet the next minute and she believes she’s in love. It’s one of the most honest artistic portrayals of the dynamics of an abusive relationship I’ve ever seen.

In the dumpster fire that is the new Suicide Squad movie, Harley and Joker’s relationship has been edited to appear more progressive and mutually respectful. I say edited because apparently the film was originally written and shot in line with the canon abusive narrative and then because of the studio’s fear of coming across too dark, the movie was re-edited to make Joker seem not so bad. He looks out for her. He tries to save her. He doesn’t try to kill her on camera at any point.
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Why It Matters that Harley Quinn & Joker’s Relationship Is Abusive

 

the-joker-and-harley-quinnstill-a-better-love-story-than-twilight-for-joker-and-harley-quinn-321zjlyx8qdck0k0p6xhca
Harley Quinn and the Joker’s relationship is abusive. It has been from the beginning, way back in Batman the Animated Series. In her second appearance ever, Joker force-feeds her fish after she tells him she can’t eat it and she throws up. Later in the series Joker gets mad at her for stepping on his joke and he throws her out a window. There is no way to read this any other way. This relationship appears equally toxic in the comics and video games that feature the couple. Joker hits Harley, tries to kill her, insults her and dehumanizes her constantly, then says something sweet the next minute and she believes she’s in love. It’s one of the most honest artistic portrayals of the dynamics of an abusive relationship I’ve ever seen.

In the dumpster fire that is the new Suicide Squad movie, Harley and Joker’s relationship has been edited to appear more progressive and mutually respectful. I say edited because apparently the film was originally written and shot in line with the canon abusive narrative and then because of the studio’s fear of coming across too dark, the movie was re-edited to make Joker seem not so bad. He looks out for her. He tries to save her. He doesn’t try to kill her on camera at any point.
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Three Poems – Jade Sylvan

Nuclear-explosion

Bugs

That was the winter we all, in glorious late-twenties 
swansong of heartbroken sluttiness, gave each other
scabies—Owen to me, me to Laney. (Owen and Laney 
were roommates who did not sleep with one another.)

All of our doctors thought we were nuts. Referred 
Laney to a shrink when she napalmed her skin till 
it wept. I dug fingerpicking nails deep into fatless
ankleflesh. Scratched my right calf to shawarma.

Owen started doing yoga. Laney stopped holding
her nieces. I covered my legs with heavy denim. 
We all lay awake at night in separate rooms, trying 
not to touch ourselves. This went on for months.

Owen got the diagnosis. When he called to tell me,
I laughed. They were anachronistic, these bugs, 
and, thank god, we lived in the age of ointments.
It wasn’t funny to Owen. He didn’t want a body

that bugs could/would ever nosh. I told him what
we think of as our bodies have more bacterial
cells than human cells. He stopped making eye-
contact with me at parties. Drank in other bars.

When I told Laney, she threw out her mattress
and jammed all of her clothes into the freezer. 
For weeks after the bugs must have been dead, 
she saw them—squirming through the quinoa, 

sambaing in sunbeams with the dust. I worried
she was losing it. Then one day she asked me 
to coffee. Told me she’d read on a website that
scabies are related to scarabs, holy resurrecting

dung beetles, worshipped by the Egyptians for 
incubating their eggs in balls of shit. Resourceful
fuckers. Maybe this was a sign that we all needed
to renew. She was wrong. Scabies and scarabs 

aren’t even in the same class—about as closely
related as tigers and snakes—but I didn’t know
that then. We were both in dresses. Everywhere 
felt spring. It was nice, this idea of starting again.

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