JOKER is set for a wide release in about a week’s time. The film has already garnered massive critical acclaim from members of the press who watched the film in film festival circuits. In fact, Joker received an eight-minute standing ovation at the Venice Film Festival and even went on to win the festival’s biggest award, the first for a comic book movie.
However, the film also appears to be highly controversial. Some people have accused the film of glorifying violence, while others have said the film is a very bad influence, especially in our current climate where gun violence and mass shootings have been a relatively common occurrence.
The friends and family members of those who were brutally killed in the Aurora (a cinema in Colorado) shooting at a screening of The Dark Knight Rises in 2012 even sent a joint letter to Warner Bros expressing their concerns about Joker.
In response to that, Warner Bros released a statement addressing that issue.
“Gun violence in our society is a critical issue, and we extend our deepest sympathy to all victims and families impacted by these tragedies. Our company has a long history of donating to victims of violence, including Aurora, and in recent weeks, our parent company joined other business leaders to call on policymakers to enact bi-partisan legislation to address this epidemic.
At the same time, Warner Bros. believes that one of the functions of storytelling is to provoke difficult conversations around complex issues. Make no mistake: neither the fictional character Joker, nor the film, is an endorsement of real-world violence of any kind. It is not the intention of the film, the filmmakers or the studio to hold this character up as a hero.”
In an interview with Associated Press, the director of Joker, Todd Phillips talked about the controversy surrounding the film.
“I mean, I think that Aurora is obviously a horrible, horrible situation but even that is not something you blame on the movie. Quite frankly, if you do your own research about Aurora that gentleman wasn’t even going in as Joker, That was misreported, his hair was dyed red he was having, obviously, a mental breakdown and there’s something horrifying about that but it wasn’t related to it outside of the fact that it happened at a movie theatre.
This is not the thing that the movie is trying to represent. The movie still takes place in a fictional world. It can have real-world invocations, options, but it’s a fictional character in a fictional world that’s been around for 80 years. The one that bugs me more is the toxic white male thing when you go, oh I just saw John Wick 3. He’s a white male who kills 300 people and everybody’s laughing and hooting and hollering. Why does this movie get held to different standards? It honestly doesn’t make sense to me.”
I’m with Todd Phillips on this one. Apart from the double standards aspect, I think it’s very important that we watch films with a critical mind and understand what exactly the film is trying to do and convey. Is The Godfather a film that’s glorifying the mafia or is it a film that explores the psychology and loose morals of members of the mafia? Does Breaking Bad glorify drug dealing or does it explore the psychology of a good man who slowly descended into darkness?