"Joker" opens with studio-fueled controversy
"Joker" is a new origin story for the famed Batman villain with Joaquin Phoenix in the title role. It is another R-rated "gritty" comic book movie ala "Logan" a few years ago, but "Joker" has been received a bit differently thus far.
It's not so much about "comic book movies kids can't watch" and more about whether the picture may have unintended consequences. Some of the early criticism about "Joker" found writers asking whether now is the best time for a movie about a loner who turns to violence against a society that has shunned him - especially since that may be a description of any number of mass shooting suspects recently. Some have even voiced concern "Joker" could inspire another theater shooting like the one in Colorado the night another Batman movie premiered.
All of this has made "Joker" controversial before the public has seen it (including me), and the studio has co-opted the conversation into part of its marketing. Adding to the mix, Director Todd Philips' complaints about woke culture destroying comedy has made his movie something of a bastion for online SJW-slammers. The narrative has turned into "This is the movie snowflakes don't want you to see, man! Be part of the resistance and buy a ticket, bruh!"
In a clever move, Warner Bros. released a statement that the movie is "not 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." It sounds responsible, but it really just plays into the idea that "Joker" is some kind of dangerous movie.
That's cynical of me, but that's also Hollywood.
It's similar to how Disney and Marvel made the "No Spoilers" mantra such a big part of the last two "Avengers" movies - especially "Endgame." It encourages people to see it before someone spoils it. Similarly, this idea of "Joker" being "bad for society" encourages people to see it in order to be in on the conversation. People want to have "informed" opinions about controversial things.
What a joke, indeed.