Joker movie “mentally unhinging” viewers, too


Brandon Mills, Writer

Todd Phillips’ new movie Joker, starring Joaquin Phoenix, came out Friday, October 4th and the lead-up and marketing campaign/trailers for the movie has caused a lot of controversy in the media, along with concerned parents. The biggest complaint I have seen about the movie is that it is glorifying “mentally unhinged” people, and that it might encourage someone to act out on their own if they are having mindsets similar to the “Joker” character. 

This is a complete fabrication of media, and it is really, really annoyingYes, I understand that there are always threats of mass shootings now because it has become so normalized in America, and we move on after a week, I get thatWhat I do not understand at all is why the media is making the movie out like it is a foregone conclusion that it is going to happen. And, in a sick, perverted way, as if they want it to happen because then they can walk around and talk about how they were right.  

My problem with this is why did the media feel the need to even put these ideas or thoughts out in the world? By starting to put this perception out that the movie could cause these thoughts, it adds an entirely new issue. There could be people that just want to cause chaos, and boom, now they have their “excuse” and then what? They get put into an institution instead of being arrested. 

Aside from this, the movie looks incredible. I have not seen one bad review or comment about it, other than the news about shootings at movie theatres or people trying to emulate Phoenix’s interpretation of the classic Batman villain.  

Terri White of Empire calls the movie, “Bold devastating and utterly beautiful, Todd Phillips and Joaquin Phoenix have not just reimagined one of the most iconic villains in cinema history but, reimagined the comic book movie itself.”  

From this account, this is going to be one of the best films of the yearbut it is being ruined by people blowing the storyline way out of proportion. The hype around this movie has been big since it started making its debut at film festivals around the world. At the Cannes film festival in France, after the movie ended, the crowd gave it an eight-minute standing ovation. A little weird to give movies a standing ovation, but that should put it into perspective about how good this movie is going to be.  

The biggest issue though, which I have already touched on, is that mass media is bringing this controversy to the forefront of the conversation, instead of appreciating the movie for just being really good. The Joker is one of the best villains of all time in comic books and movies. No one thought that Heath Ledger’s rendition in 2008’s The Dark Night would ever be touched, but Phoenix is drawing comparisons to that alltime role.  

I feel like the part of the conversation that is not happening, and absolutely needs to happen is this – and I cannot stress this enough – the Joker is a fictional character from a comic book and turned into a movie. Nothing more, nothing less. He is a fake person, with a story that is incredibly interesting, and now we are getting a story of one of the greatest characters ever. Why can we not just be happy about that?  

How come every time anything slightly controversial gets made, people want it gone so they don’t have to face it? Newsflash, controversial things are good for the world, it makes us think and use our brain to decide on our own how we feel about it. This movie should absolutely not be canceled, I am excited to see it and if you are a fan of Batman or the Joker, you should be excited as well.  

Joker is going to elicit a lot of emotions out of a lot of people. We are trained to hate the Joker, but this movie paints him in a different light. He is alone and he is misunderstood. He also ends up in an asylum at the end of the movie, so I don’t think that means the studio is glorifying him in the slightest. I sympathize with the families of victims of mass shootings who feel that this movie shows the Joker being a sympathetic figure, but we cannot just kill creative freedom because certain people want things they do not approve of taken away.