Following a flurry of online controversy, and an open letter from the families of victims from the 2012 Aurora Cinema Shooting, Warner Bros. has released an official statement on the violence in Joker.
The has been criticized for offering an in-depth portrait of a mass killer, while others argue that the film never does anything to endorse its violence. Now, WB has responded to the controversy, maintaining that Joker does not portray the character as a hero, nor endorse his actions:
“Gun violence in our society is a critical issue, and we extend our deepest sympathy to all victims and families impacted by these tragedies,” reads the statement. 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.”
Today, friends and family members of those who were killed in the Aurora, Colorado shooting at a showing of The Dark Knight Rises in 2012, released a letter expressing concern over the film’s violent nature. This sparked an immediate discussion as to how art translates to real life, as well as the current climate of gun violence in America.
Both Joaquin Phoenix and director Todd Phillips have spoken out against those who feel that this film will inspire some to commit terrible acts. In an interview with IGN, Phillips said that the film doesn’t excuse Joker’s behavior:
“The movie makes statements about a lack of love, childhood trauma, lack of compassion in the world,” he said. “I think people can handle that message.”
Joker hits theatres on October 4, 2019.