Joker : Humanization & Today’s Social Climate

It was announced yesterday that there would be no press on the red carpet for the Hollywood premiere of Joker. No interviews are to be conducted. This comes after the news that, several times in the last month, Joaquin Phoenix has walked out of interviews when asked questions about the film possibly inciting violence, inspiring the kind of people that the film is about.

I understand the frustration when being asked “do you think this film will incite violence?” It’s been shown time and time again that movies, television, and video games do not directly cause violence. However, with the current social climate we are in, I do think that it is important to consider what this film will do.

If you know anything about the Joker and are able to use the internet, you will know that there is a particular group of people called “incels” that have already identified with the character. For those of you that are new to this, the term “incel” means involuntarily celibate, meaning that they would be having sex but nobody will sleep with them. So, that gives an idea of the type of people I am talking about. Already attaching themselves to the Joker is dangerous because he is a mass murdering mad man. Where I am getting nervous about Joker is that it’s, in part, an attempt to humanize the character. And, in doing so, make him more relatable to the viewers. This is bad because, let me repeat, no matter what, he is a mass murderer.

When the US Army has to send out a memo indicating that there has been “disturbing” online chatter about a possible mass shooting threat for the release of Joker, maybe it’s not the right social climate to release the film. Even if they state that there hasn’t been an actual credible threat, that it has just been “chatter”, that needs to be taken seriously. All it does is bring back memories of the 2012 shooting that killed 12 people and injured 70 during a showing of Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises.

I’m not saying that the film shouldn’t be released. It absolutely should, and I am excited to see it. What I am saying is that the social climate should have been taken into consideration. Mass shootings are nearly an everyday occurrence now. Tensions are running higher than ever. Maybe now is not the time to humanize an, albeit fictional, mass murderer. Just a thought.

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