Image: Warner Bros Pictures

Is the ‘Joker’ Controversy Valid?


By Skyler King

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Todd Philipps’s ‘Joker’ opened earlier this month to audience and critical concerns that the film glorified and incited mass violence.

‘Joker’ is a psychological thriller taking place in the DC universe as it tells the story of Arthur Fleck. A man whose continuous beatdown from society caused him to snap and become the “Clown Prince of Crime”, Batman’s greatest villain, the Joker. ‘Joker’ is a dark film, taking a violent, chilling and tragic route to portray the creation of Joker.

A few weeks prior to the release date, ‘Joker’ was shown at film festivals including the Venice Film Festival where it won the coveted Golden Lion, and garnered critical praise across the board. With all the praise came backlash, as critics worried the film was too violent and could go as far as to incite mass shootings according to The Atlantic.

Before ‘Joker’ was released, the theater in Aurora, Colorado where the mass shooting occurred in 2012, announced they would not be showing ‘Joker’ in their theater. According to Deadline, the NYPD stationed officers at theaters during opening weekend.

Despite all of the concern, ‘Joker’ went on to earn the highest opening weekend in October with a total of $93.5 million according to Box Office Mojo

The film is dark, violent, and quite sad as is to be expected from a film about one of the most prolific and violent villains ever in comics. However, the film is no more violent that the average rated R film.

 ‘Joker’ is a riveting film. Audiences are lead to want to sympathize with Arthur as society is repeatedly knocking him down and treating him horribly. In the film’s climax Arthur, now taken on the role of Joker, makes a comment saying that if he were to die on the street, society would simply walk over him. However, we cannot sympathize with him because he is committing these horrible crimes and is genuinely a bad person. 

The best thing to do is to go into this film knowing who the Joker is and what this character is about.

The violence, while unsettling, is not surprising once audiences take into account that he is the Joker. The Joker is an unhinged, insane and violent being. Everything he does is in tune with that character. 

This film does not incite violence, it actually incites a look into our own society. How we treat the lower classes, social injustice and the lack of government aide when it comes to mental health. 

‘Joker’ is a beautifully shot film,  with an incredible performance from Joaquin Phoenix and great direction from Todd Philipps. The film is incredibly sad when it needs to be, and even more uncomfortable when it needs to be. Staying away from this film because of the fear of violence is a mistake, this film is amazing and deserves the praise.