I chose to discuss this article for many reasons, but primarily because of my love for Joaquin Phoenix even though I truly believe no one will ever live up to the role Heath Ledger played as the 2008 joker. I also feel like this movie has gotten an overwhelming amount of attention- mostly for good reasons, until now.
In a letter to Warner Bros studios, families of some of the victims of a 2012 mass shooting that took place in a movie theater in Colorado, expressed concerns that perhaps this film may provide “encouragement” to someone who is on the edge and not at peace with themselves. Twelve people were killed and many more suffered serious injury in Colorado during a midnight showing of “The Dark Knight,” another movie that depicts the joker, by a gunman who is now serving multiple life sentences in prison.
The ultimate concerns by these families is that the movie is in a way promoting feeling sympathetic for Joaquin Phoenix’s character because of his origin story and his concerning mental health. Phoenix and “Joker” director, Todd Phillips, came to the defense of their movie saying that this depiction is something everyone is aware of, and therefore should not be so taboo. “I don’t think that we can be afraid to talk about it,” said Phoenix in an interview with IGN.
While I believe the issue with mass shootings in the United States is a growing and serious matter, I do not believe that writing a letter to Warner Bros is the best way to see any sort of serious action taken. Plenty of movies display this same character profile: a mentally disturbed young man or woman who takes to violence to fill a void of some sort that can never really be filled. This article prompts the question, should major television studios like Warner Bros walk on eggshells when depicting touchy social issues? The answer may not be so black and white, but perhaps is one that should be discussed by the industry at large.