Home Entertainment WB responds to Joker controversy, says film is not “an endorsement of real-world violence”

WB responds to Joker controversy, says film is not “an endorsement of real-world violence”

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On 16 July 2012, during a screening of The Dark Knight at a cinema in Aurora, Colorado, 25-year old James Eagan Holmes entered the sold-out venue and shot indiscriminately into the crowd with a variety of firearms, killing 12 people and wounding 70 more. He would eventually be arrested and sentenced to 12 consecutive life sentences without parole, and during the inquiries into what prompted this tragedy it was found that Holmes was a fan of superhero comics, including Batman. It was also initially reported that he had dyed his hair green and referred to himself as the Joker – these claims were later refuted, but the image had already caught on and became what people held onto. What was fact though was how Holmes’ pre-recorded manifesto of pure chaos was eerily similar to that of the Joker character from The Dark Knight, and there are even reports of him imitating the character’s distinct voice to people in the run-up to the shooting.

With all of this in mind, it should come as no surprise that some of the Aurora shooting survivors, with their families and friends, have penned an open letter citing concern about Warner Bros.’s upcoming Joker film from writer/director Todd Phillips. This new cinematic iteration of the iconic Batman villain has drawn massive praise thus far, but its also been steeped in controversy as early viewers expressed concern that it could be seen as a glamorization of mass murder.

In the film, the titular character played by Joaquin Phoenix, is a lonely, disenfranchised man who turns to extreme violence to exact revenge on those who he feels have wronged him. Critics of the film have pointed to the character’s similarities with the dangerous incel fringe culture as being potentially troubling in a country that is suffering from a mass shooting crisis.

Up until recently, the film’s creators hadn’t really addressed the criticism much. In fact, when asked about the issues initially, Phoenix instead just walked out of the interview. But now in response to the Aurora survivors’ open letter, which called on Warner Bros. to “use your massive platform and influence to join us in our fight to build safer communities with fewer guns,” the Hollywood studio has finally issued a formal statement in which they make it clear that their movie does not glamorize or endorse mass public violence.

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.

On top of the statement, both Phillips and Phoenix have also now defended their film with the director telling IGN that “To me, art can be complicated and oftentimes art is meant to be complicated. If you want uncomplicated art, you might want to take up calligraphy, but filmmaking will always be a complicated art.”

I really think there have been a lot of think pieces written by people who proudly state they haven’t even seen the movie and they don’t need to. I would just argue that you might want to watch the movie, you might want to watch it with an open mind. The movie makes statements about a lack of love, childhood trauma, lack of compassion in the world. I think people can handle that message.

It’s so, to me, bizarre when people say, β€˜Oh, well I could handle it. But imagine if you can’t.’ It’s making judgments for other people and I don’t even want to bring up the movies in the past that they’ve said this about because it’s shocking and embarrassing when you go, oh my God, Do the Right Thing, they said that about [that movie, too].

Phoenix pointed out that disturbed individuals would be able to find endorsements of their actions anywhere, not just a movie.

Well, I think that, for most of us, you’re able to tell the difference between right and wrong. And those that aren’t are capable of interpreting anything in the way that they may want to. People misinterpret lyrics from songs. They misinterpret passages from books. So I don’t think it’s the responsibility of a filmmaker to teach the audience morality or the difference between right or wrong. I mean, to me, I think that that’s obvious.

I think if you have somebody that has that level of emotional disturbance, they can find fuel anywhere. I just don’t think that you can function that way,

Personally, I can definitely see the argument for both sides, but I’m holding back any hard opinion on it until I see for myself how Phillips and Phoenix tackle this sensitive subject. Luckily, that won’t be too long with Joker scheduled for release on 4 October worldwide. There’s one location though where Joker will seemingly not release, and that’s at the Aurora cinema where the 2012 shooting took place. And that is a very good thing if you ask me.

Last Updated: September 25, 2019

55 Comments

  1. Everyone needs to take a chill pill and wait until the movie releases before drawing conclusions.There have been worst movies on our cinema circuit that could be misconstrued as endorsing violence!

    Reply

    • Pariah

      September 25, 2019 at 12:36

      It’s funny how movies like Gone in 60 seconds and Ocean’s 11 didn’t suddenly increase the amount of cars being stolen or massive high-profile heists being committed. Why does this only apply to murder?

      Of course, it doesn’t. But people need something to blame. Something that doesn’t make them part of the problem. Something that they can absolve themselves of. If the onus is on society to be more compassionate and be better as people, and they’re unwilling to do that, then that’s not the movie’s fault.

      Reply

      • Original Heretic

        September 25, 2019 at 12:54

        Heh…heh heh…
        You said anus.

        Crud, it’s just “onus”….

        Reply

    • Son of Banana Jim

      September 25, 2019 at 12:54

      I watched John Wick 1, 2, 3 and I’m yet to take out a ukrainian crime family through an amazing display of jujitsu, gunplay and dance….

      Reply

      • Pariah

        September 25, 2019 at 12:54

        But was your puppy killed?

        Reply

        • Yahtzee

          September 25, 2019 at 13:21

          I think my hatred for dogs is why I have not watched these movies yet. I probably wont go a long with the whole plot because of a dog being shot.

          Reply

          • Magoo γƒžγ‚°

            September 25, 2019 at 13:21

            hatred for dogs

            What language is this? Because it does not make any sense in english.

          • Yahtzee

            September 25, 2019 at 13:21

            I can say it in German to πŸ™‚

          • Magoo γƒžγ‚°

            September 25, 2019 at 13:21

            …to what? You can’t just drop us in the middle of a sentence.

            Yes I turned to semantics to avoid the abominable truth.

          • Yahtzee

            September 25, 2019 at 13:30

            Fine I’m no good in English. But I am fluent in Weeb.

      • Original Heretic

        September 25, 2019 at 14:01

        *sambo

        Reply

        • Son of Banana Jim

          September 25, 2019 at 14:01

          As revealed in the third movie – but let’s be honest, sambo was inspired by Judo which in turn was inspired by jujitsu. πŸ™‚

          Reply

  2. Raptor Rants

    September 25, 2019 at 12:36

    so… about dem saw movies

    Reply

    • Pariah

      September 25, 2019 at 14:51

      Republicans love them.

      Reply

    • Yahtzee

      September 25, 2019 at 12:43

      I watched this movie the other day where this country is going under by a corrupt government and police force and you can’t go outside without some form of protection on you… oh wait. Nevermind

      Reply

    • Son of Banana Jim

      September 25, 2019 at 12:54

      Or dem Purge movies…. You’d think those would turn a bunch of impressionable tweens into masked sociopaths….

      Reply

    • Yahtzee

      September 25, 2019 at 12:43

      I watched this movie the other day where this country is going under by a corrupt government and police force and you can’t go outside without some form of protection on you… oh wait. Nevermind

      Reply

  3. Original Heretic

    September 25, 2019 at 12:54

    “crap, murder rates are up.”
    “Who should we blame?”
    “How about blaming the unfair systems that apply undue pressure on people or demand unrealistic expectations in many, especially when comparing themselves to others. Oh, and the gross differences in cultural status brought about by the perception that your annual income is directly proportional to your worth as a person. And maybe we can also blame the disassociated feeling that people have due to a lack of any real or significant personal attention from other people.”
    “Nah fuckit, let’s just blame movies and games.”

    Reply

    • Son of Banana Jim

      September 25, 2019 at 14:11

      Original Heretic just dropped the mic! πŸ™‚ I couldn’t agree more.

      Reply

    • Pariah

      September 25, 2019 at 13:03

      You said it so much more impactfully than I did. Yes, I know that’s not a word and I just made it up, but it works.

      Reply

  4. Magoo γƒžγ‚°

    September 25, 2019 at 13:13

    I think it’s a valid talking point, honestly. Would I go so far as to say that movies like this shouldn’t exist because they may influence someone to commit atrocities? No I wouldn’t. Art is powerful but it’s just a reflection.

    Reply

  5. Alien Emperor Trevor

    September 25, 2019 at 13:13

    Calling them “think pieces” was very generous. I’m going to go out on a limb and say there will be more “think pieces” about how what they all just said is terrible.

    That said, it made me wonder about what’s so different about this movie that it’s being singled out, and then it hit me: it’s a comic book movie. And as we all know comic book readers are losers completely detached from reality and only a single push away from being mass murderers… is the mentality of these “think piece” writers.

    It’s all click bait at its finest.

    Reply

    • Magoo γƒžγ‚°

      September 25, 2019 at 13:13

      I don’t know man. It’s just much easier to single something out these days, and people are as hungry as ever for controversy. Films like Requiem for a Dream and Fear and Loathing got their fair share of disdain, to the point where they were outright banned from countries by governments.

      Reply

      • Alien Emperor Trevor

        September 25, 2019 at 13:30

        Yeah I’m being a bit sarcastic. What I actually think is happening is that over the last few years a movie gets picked as a symbol of all that’s right/wrong with the world and it doesn’t matter what the movie says or does, or even if it’s any good. It just gets slapped into the middle of the culture war because we need more fuel for the fire, and then depending on what side you’re on you have to like it or not without even watching it. That’s how extreme ideologically blinkered people behave.

        Ghostbusters, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Ready Player One, Captain Marvel, and now this.

        Reply

        • Magoo γƒžγ‚°

          September 25, 2019 at 13:30

          That’s… spot on actually. I imagine all internet people just as an old man who checks his lawn every 25 seconds desperately hoping that someone is anywhere near it so that he can shout at their absolute idiocy and wrongness.

          And if nothing happens in a couple of minutes, he in fact goes out and checks everyone else’s lawn, and then shits on the owners as well as the trespassers for their lunacy in letting something so heinous take place.

          Reply

          • Yahtzee

            September 25, 2019 at 13:30

            Where is the law that states you need to be “old” to do that?

          • Magoo γƒžγ‚°

            September 25, 2019 at 13:40

            Ok here let me fix it.

            I imagine all persons/things of any sort being whoever/however/whenever/whatever they want.

            Can I go home now?

          • Alien Emperor Trevor

            September 25, 2019 at 13:40

            You have a home?

          • Magoo γƒžγ‚°

            September 25, 2019 at 13:40

            It’s just an expression!

          • Yahtzee

            September 25, 2019 at 13:40

            Your home better not be close to my lawn

          • Raptor Rants

            September 25, 2019 at 13:40

            Ok fluttergrump

          • Magoo γƒžγ‚°

            September 25, 2019 at 13:40

            Please wait while we search for the offense that you clearly intended

          • Yahtzee

            September 25, 2019 at 13:40

            Jokes on you. I don’t have a lawn xD

          • Magoo γƒžγ‚°

            September 25, 2019 at 13:51

            Well, I don’t have a home. So suck it sucka!

          • Yahtzee

            September 25, 2019 at 13:51

            Well this took a serious left turn fast…

          • Magoo γƒžγ‚°

            September 25, 2019 at 13:52

            I won the battle, but lost the war still live on the streets

          • HvR

            September 25, 2019 at 13:40

            Dammit can’t stop laughing at image of you in a unicorn onesie yelling at kids to of yer lawn and then getting chased back into your fortress of solitude by an over excited yorkie.

          • Admiral Chief

            September 25, 2019 at 13:40

            HAHAHA

          • Yahtzee

            September 25, 2019 at 13:40

            I’m scared of big dogs yes. But anything under knee height I will YEET over a wall.

          • Yahtzee

            September 25, 2019 at 13:40

            I’m scared of big dogs yes. But anything under knee height I will YEET over a wall.

    • RinceThis

      September 25, 2019 at 14:21

      this!

      Reply

  6. Kromas

    September 25, 2019 at 13:21

    I can’t even.

    Reply

    • Magoo γƒžγ‚°

      September 25, 2019 at 13:21

      But can you odd???

      Reply

      • Admiral Chief

        September 25, 2019 at 13:30

        HAH

        Reply

  7. RinceThis

    September 25, 2019 at 14:21

    so every movie with a white guy’s past being used as an excuse to be violent now falls under incel? Very confused.

    Reply

  8. Son of Banana Jim

    September 25, 2019 at 12:54

    Hello kids, Uncle Jim here. Remember. games and movies can’t turn you into a shooter.

    Isn’t it strange that 20 years ago, journos were rightfully mocking Jack Thompson for his views on GTA, and now we’re getting those very same talking points and opinions from the media houses. What happened guys? When did that flip happen? When did millennial writers turn into Jack “muh pixels kills” Thompson?

    As the Cheddar said: Repeat after me slowly: It’s just a movie!

    Reply

    • Son of Banana Jim

      September 25, 2019 at 12:54

      I’ll just add Ice Cube here, because back in the day in 08, even he knew this sort of stuff was bollocks.

      Reply

      • Pariah

        September 25, 2019 at 12:54

        Anyone with an IQ that is measurable knows that it’s a load of bollocks lol.

        Reply

      • Magoo γƒžγ‚°

        September 25, 2019 at 13:04

        Wasn’t me, it was the gangster rappin’ n’ peppermint schnapps.

        Reply

  9. SagatatiaRZA

    September 25, 2019 at 13:04

    I honestly don’t get how this even warranted a reaction. Outrage culture is like a fart in a train. Just as insignificant, just as unpleasant and just as fickle.

    Reply

    • Admiral Chief

      September 25, 2019 at 13:13

      “…like a fart in a train”
      HAH, exactly

      Reply

    • Son of Banana Jim

      September 25, 2019 at 14:01

      Outrage culture is like watching a hobo pee under a bridge; you can’t look away but then you also realise the dude is peeing where he sleeps.

      Reply

  10. Gr8_Balls_o_Fire

    September 26, 2019 at 12:21

    Massive yawn at the people who are getting offended.

    Reply

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