Following the equal gender pay debate circling Hollywood in 2015, and the ongoing conversation of limited female roles, it was refreshing to see a movie centred around the life of a female that didn't solely focus on her sexuality or familial responsibility (in the capacity of being a wife, partner or mother). JOY humanised the woman, and conveyed her as being multifaceted. Yes, we have career aspirations also...shocking! Yes, we are intuitive and creative, also looking for means of bettering our situation, and courageously willing to take on the role of breadwinner, where need be. Coming from an African household, I have seen many women take on this same responsibility of financially holding the family together silently as the male figures proudly prance around taking on the praise of their success. I have seen females singlehandedly support their children through University, and watched as the Father rose to clink champagne flutes following a toast at their graduations. JOY is the untold story of so many women around the world.
There's no greater motivator than being broke. Joy is living hand-to-mouth, fending for her family and extended family, working dead-end jobs, all without complaining. So many people are living like this, but she refuses to be satisfied as is. She has always yearned for a greater purpose; to create. JOY illustrates her journey from the childhood mindset that all is possible, to the adult reality that success is not just the result of hard work, but also one's relentless pursuit of it. We see Joy's rise to success when she is at her lowest, cowering down on boat, glass shards shredding her palms as her absent-minded family members continue to enjoy their time, oblivious to her pain and discomfort. We have all felt lost and abandoned at some point, as though the world is carrying on in play, and we are stuck in pause, or worse still, rewind. However, Joy uses this moment as the motivation for her great idea. The idea that she is willing to invest her livelihood, security and reality on. That risk...are we all brave enough to take?
JOY is littered with family members and friends in every scene. I remember learning about the impact of a cramped learning environment on early cognitive development. Joy is living proof of that. Her creativity and intellectual growth is stifled by her divorced parents' endless wahala, and their inability to let her flee the nest (or to do so themselves). African and Asian households are notorious for the very same, generations upon generations living in one household as a matter of convenience. However, the destruction caused is unquantifiable. As a result of bickering and butting heads, Joy's creative dreams aren't actualised until well into her 30's. Sacrifice is a term victims of such conditions are familiar with; years looking after this family member or time devoted to further X's cause in place of your own. JOY highlights the detrimental effect this can have on one's progress, all in the name of a 'close-knit family'.
Lastly, JOY deals with doubt, both from family, friends and oneself. When we are going after a goal, especially one we have dreamed will lead us to success, we will be a centre point target for doubt. Naysayers who vouch that their utterances are rooted in love and concern, rather than jealousy or fear, will rise out of the woodworks. Former confidants no longer comfortable with the trade of positions from all-knowing, will seek you out to tear you down. Doubt, jealousy and envy do not discriminate; they come in the form of those you once loved, family members who have always supported you, or friends who were always chiming one sermon or the other. Intuition is key. Trust the process and never lose sight of the end goal, because detours are to be expected.
"We got here from hard work, patience, and humility. Don't think the world owes you anything" Jennifer Lawrence as JOY