Todd Phillips and Joaquin Phoenix’s take on the Joker has garnered a lot of attention. That attention has been both positive and negative. On the positive side, it’s won some awards, and may even nab an Oscar. Negatively, folks are worried about how the film will inspire criminals like the Joker in the real world. Recently, Phoenix was asked about this in an interview. The actor refused to comment, and even refused to continue the interview. Now, the families of those who lost their lives in the Aurora, Colorado shooting have written a letter to the director.
In 2012, when The Dark Knight Rises was shown in a theater in Aurora, Colorado, a man who claimed to be the Joker, shot several victims. The toll of dead and injured doesn’t matter. The fact is that many people lost their lives that day. Christian Bale, the star of that film, made a point to visit those families to offer condolences. The theater was rebuilt. And they’ve taken care not to show the movie in order to prevent triggering those survivors.
Susan Phillips, no relation to the director, but an advocate for gun violence survivors, helped write a letter to Todd Phillips. They aren’t asking to pull the film, or change its contents. They are only asking for him to donate some of the proceeds. The Hollywood Reporter obtained a copy of that letter.
“We are calling on you to be a part of the growing chorus of corporate leaders who understand that they have a social responsibility to keep us all safe.”
Though, Susan wrote further to say:
“My worry is that one person who may be out there — and who knows if it is just one — who is on the edge, who is wanting to be a mass shooter, may be encouraged by this movie. And that terrifies me.”
There has yet to be report of Todd Phillips’ response. Though, in regards to the accusations of Joker’s effects, he had this to say:
“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.”
Warner Bros has responded to the letter in question. Their response is as stated:
“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.”
Many times in the past, movies have been protested before they were even watched. And in most of those times, if those protesters had even watched the movie, they would realize their efforts were in vain.
I will say, though, that the Aurora families themselves aren’t necessarily protesting the movie. They’re not really protesting at all. And if Todd Phillips does donate something to them, that would be a quite valiant thing for him to do.
Joker will be here before we know it. October 3rd is just around the corner. Like he said, give the film a watch and form your opinion from there. I know that a story which puts a villain as a protagonist can raise some eyebrows. But there may be more than just negativity that can be taken from it.