The father of a victim of the 2012 Aurora, Colorado shooting speaks out about the backlash to Joker regarding its use of violence. The Todd Phillips-directed flick is a little bit more than a week from releasing in theaters, and yet, instead of its rave reviews after it won the Golden Lion at this year's Venice Film Festival, the central conversation about it revolves around its depiction of violence.
Starring Joaquin Phoenix as the titular character, Joker brings fans back to the late '70s and early '80s at the time where the iconic DC villain was still simply known as Arthur Fleck - a failed comedian. Fans were initially skeptical of the standalone movie, but after generally positive feedback on top of a great marketing run, most of them have been convinced to give the project a shot. Sadly, as it nears its theatrical roll out, the film finds itself in the middle of a controversy with concerns over making a psychotic villain sympathetic. Things came to a head when families of the Colorado theater shooting seven years ago expressed their thoughts, leading to The Century theater chain deciding to not screen the film there.
Not all victim family members share the sentiment however. Mike Senecal- father of Katherine Senecal who was a victim of the 2012 tragedy and even helped save her friend has a different perspective regarding the linking of Joker and mass shooting and other violence. Senecal told TMZ that he believes that Katherine (who sadly died of suicide last year) would have distinguished the difference between the movie and real life. As someone who struggled with mental health issues in the past, he shifts blame from films to the lack of mental health care in the country instead.
In Warner Bros.' official statement regarding the issue, they reiterated that "neither the fictional character Joker, nor the film, is an endorsement of real-world violence of any kind." The studio also pointed out that "one of the functions of storytelling is to provoke difficult conversations around complex issues." Despite this, intel from the FBI reveals that radicalized members of the online group so-called "incels" may ensue chaos and violence during screenings of the film, while the U.S. military has already issued warning to their members regarding this matter.
At a time where mass shootings are so prevalent, it's understandable that people are concerned about any possible triggers for another tragedy. Over the years, countless lives have been lost due to meaningless violence. However, it's unfair to put so much of the burden of these tragedies to a film like Joker as there are other key factors in terms of these shootings - one of which is the lack of mental health care in the country like Senecal pointed out. It's too early to tell if these will affect people turn out once the aforementioned movie is out in theaters, but it's certainly unfortunate that a film is marred by such serious issues.
- Joker (2019) release date: Oct 04, 2019
- Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) (2020) release date: Feb 07, 2020
- Wonder Woman 1984 (2020) release date: Jun 05, 2020
- The Batman (2021) release date: Jun 25, 2021
- The Suicide Squad (2021) release date: Aug 06, 2021
- DC Super Pets (2022) release date: May 20, 2022
- Aquaman 2 (2022) release date: Dec 16, 2022