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Joker prompts concern from army for potential incel violence

Niko Tavernise
Niko Tavernise | Warner Brothers

The new stand-alone Joker movie directed by Todd Phillips of the Hangover series and  starring multi-time Oscar nominee Joaquin Phoenix was supposed to be riding a high tide of success.

 The film has been acclaimed by critics and even snagged the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival. Once it was premiered, it had an eight-minute standing ovation and ever since then there have been talks of Oscar buzz for Phoenix’s performance.

However, the second that the film was ready to brace itself for a hero’s welcome in the United States, the themes, imagery and above all else the character itself have succumbed to the ever-changing culture that has consumed society in the last half of the decade.

The movie, Joker, follows failing comedian Arthur Fleck and his descent into madness as the world around him contributes to his failing mental outlook, eventually causes him to snap.

 It is a story all too familiar to those that we see in the news of those who commit horrible acts of violence.

In an email circulated by the U.S. Military, there was concern for the release of the new Joker film in fear of another deadly attack happening like those seen so often in the last decade. 

The email begins by saying there have been posts on social media have referred to incel extremists wanting to replicate the 2012 theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado that occurred in a midnight screening of “The Dark Knight Rises.” 

Incels referring to males whose goal is to claim absolute male supremacy.

Shortly after on Sept. 23, the U.S. military released a memo stating that it had found cause for concern after discovering rumors on the dark web of a potential mass shooting that would target a movie theater. 

The memo explains that precautions must be made for those choosing to go see the film on opening night.

Around the same time, a letter released by the families of the victims from the Aurora shooting shared similar concerns. 

In the letter they ask Ann Sarnoff, the CEO of Warner Bros., to “end political contributions to candidates who take money from the NRA and vote against gun reform” and “use political clout and leverage in Congress to actively lobby for gun reform.” 

They also urged the Warner Bros. to “help fund survivors’ funds and gun violence intervention programs in [the] communities where theaters show [their] films.”

When asked about whether or not the new film may inspire others to commit heinous acts of violence, Phoenix responded, “Why would you…? No… no,” in an interview with The Telegraph. Afterwards, he walked out of the interview.

A representative from Warner Bros. released a statement claiming that the company understood where the film lies in today’s society, especially with the growing concern of gun violence seen throughout the country. 

In the statement, Warner Bros. claimed they would help enact bi-partisan legislation addressing the issues at hand and emphasized that the film, as well as its main character, are by no means an endorsement of violence. 

The film company has also decided to not show the Joker film at the Aurora, Colorado movie theater where the 2012 shooting happened.

Phillips commented on the film’s message and story stating, “The movie makes statements about a lack of love, childhood trauma [and] a lack of compassion in the world. I think people can handle that message,” according to an interview he did with IGN.

Phoenix also commented, stating, “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.”

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