As part of the continuing hysteria surrounding Joaquin Phoenix's Joker film, New York City police will now patrol outside theaters screening it. In an age where mass shootings have become commonplace in the U.S., it isn't hard to understand why concerns about such violence exist. The problem is that a conclusive link between violent media and violent actions has never been established, yet many people, such as politicians from both sides of the aisle, are often quick to try and place blame for real-life violence on the fictional kind.
Serving as a standalone origin story for DC's infamous Clown Prince of Crime, Joker stars Phoenix as Arthur Fleck, a failing stand-up comic pushed over the edge by both his own shortcomings and the perceived mistreatment he receives from others and society at large. It's a psychological character study about a man who breaks with sanity and indulges in chaotic violence, and far from the first such film to be made. Yet, Joker seems to be getting a level of backlash beyond that received by similarly violent content, as recently noted by director Todd Phillips.
Various theater chains and cities are reacting to worries about possible violence at Joker screenings in their own ways, but now, TMZ reports that the NYPD will be patrolling the entrances of theaters showing the R-rated film. This is despite it also being reported that no credible threats surrounding the film have been made. Los Angeles is also taking similar precautions.
Obviously, no one can say with complete certainty that a violent incident won't take place at any of the thousands of Joker screenings set to take place this weekend. That said, never at any point has any kind of viable specific threat been publicly identified, despite such things as the above and the military warning service members to stay alert for "incel" attacks. In many ways it almost feels like the worries about Joker continue to increase solely because of the hysteria itself, as more and more players hop on the bandwagon.
There are also ongoing bouts of criticism directed at Joker's possible glorification of murder and mayhem as a therapeutic outlet, despite the majority of people still not having actually seen the finished product. Even if that criticism holds true though, again, Joker would be far from the first film to glorify graphic violence, and also wouldn't even be the first released in the current volatile American climate. To put the blame on Joker and its makers for what a small subset of people might possibly be "inspired" to do after viewing it is patently unfair. With ticket sales holding strong though, hopefully Joker is eventually judged for what it is, not what its vocal detractors fear it to be.
- Joker (2019) release date: Oct 04, 2019
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- 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