Monday, August 1, 2016

ENFP Problems: Why I Love Harley Quinn (and You Should Too)

Previously, I wrote a post defending Peregrin Took, a fellow ENFP. With the premiere of Suicide Squad imminent, I have decided that it is high time to honor another one of my favorite ENFP characters in light of their live action silver screen debut. Ladies and Germs give it up for the lovely Dr. Harleen Quinzel!

Introduced in Batman: The Animated Series (1992) as a throwaway sidekick to the Joker, Harley quickly became a fan favorite. She was written into the comic universe in The Batman Adventures #12 (1993) and her origin story was featured in the graphic novel Mad Love (1994)--a personal favorite. Ever since, Harley has surfaced in all sorts of animated Batman features and video games while also holding her own as a protagonist in several comic series. Most recently, Harley has been included in DC Super Hero Girls along with a plethora of other heroines (and those who've been typically portrayed as villains). And then, there's Suicide Squad.
I'm going to be honest, part of me is still afraid that they're going to strip her of her agency. Yes, that fear does partially stem from the sparkly hot pants. But, it's also her long-lived and fraught-with-controversy dynamic relationship with The Joker. Basically, my worries boil down to this: What if instead of making her a powerful female character they just turn her into a poster child for romanticizing an abusive relationship? The Harley I know and love has worked hard to overcome a number of issues and totally kicks ass. If they make her a joke, I'm going to be rather upset. I've been waiting a long time to see her on the big screen and this could really be her chance to shine.


Harley is chaotic, bubbly, and, although violent, is in fact a total sweetheart to those she cares about. For example, The Joker once sent hyenas to kill her--she tamed them and they became her much beloved pets (she takes a shine to rescuing animals throughout the comics). Harley makes friends easily with those like her...and to be frank, with those different from her too. She's funny, intelligent, and has a heck of a personality. What's not to love? (Except for the whole "convicted felon," "HIPAA violation," and "cold blooded killer" thing?)

The friendship and the decidedly good influence Poison Ivy has had on Harley is incredible. Even in her origin series, Ivy was the one who got through to Harley about the sinister reality of her relationship with "Mistah J." She encourages Harley to see her true worth and chase after what makes her happy. Of course it's a struggle, but in the comics we get to see a truly independent Harley who has moved on and is living life on her own terms. This of course includes her own brand of wacky heroism, advocacy for victims, and her usual zany antics. She truly displays the attributes of a centered and actualized ENFP.

As posted on Jared Leto's Instagram

Speaking of an actualization, nothing better demonstrates the way an ENFP can be ruled by their emotions than Harley's relationship with The Joker. Harley originally went into psychiatry to solve issues in her own family's past, but in the process was drawn in to Mr. J's clutches. This is partially  due to her empathetic nature and need for validation from others. Every person knows that their emotions influence decision making. But we still have the choice whether to act upon those emotions or to resist. We can only really guess that Harley fell into crime of her own volition. This isn't to say that The Joker didn't have an influence, but that Harley has always been a character that knows what she wants and will do whatever it takes to achieve that end. Whether her actions are for the good of her Puddin' or later on the good of mankind, she displays trademark ENFP flexibility. This is what fascinates me about Harley: she's a total wildcard but, even when it seems impossible, she has a plan. Beneath the giggling, gum popping, and besotted schoolgirl act, there is an intelligent and calculating woman who in the end will always come out on top. 

What are your hopes for the Suicide Squad film?


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