The Joker Controversy: Much Ado About Nothing
By Nick Miller '20
In recent news, there has been much controversy surrounding Joker, starring Joaquin Phoenix and directed by Todd Phillips. There has been outrage over the so-called “glorification” of a mentally ill psychopath who incites crime all over Gotham City. Many critics believe that this movie might inspire someone to imitate the Joker and commit acts of violence out of spite for the people who have treated him wrongly. After watching the film, I completely disagree with the critics. Without revealing any spoilers, I will explain why I believe this movie will not incite any violence.
At the end of the day, Joker is just a movie. While the movie is realistic and could most definitely happen in real life, I do not believe Joker will be the reason for a crazy man running around causing trouble. The ideas and themes dealt with in the movie are definitely present in society today, but, for one thing, I do not believe a person like the Joker would have a big following in real life as he did in the movie. I asked Jordan Bruce ’20, if he agreed with the criticism of the movie. Jordan responded, “No, I believe [violence] is not glorified by the movie, because I think the movie did a good job of discussing mental health issues without glorifying the daily troubles of people who suffer from mental illness.”
After watching the movie, while I was reading about all of the outrage, I thought to myself, why don’t people get this mad over war movies, or other movies that deal with mentally ill anti-heroes? War movies have a lot more violence than Joker, so do those not incite violence? I think it is hypocritical for critics to bash Joker for potentially inspiring a real-life psychopath to go on a crime spree, while there are many other “classic” movies that do this, like Taxi Driver (starring Joker co-star, Robert De Niro). Taxi Driver did not receive nearly as much backlash when it was released, although of course the internet and social media had not been invented at the time of its release in 1976.
While I feel the movie did not deserve the criticism it received, I can understand why people are mad at the movie given the recent wave of mass shootings in America. If there is one thing I learned from Joker, it is to always treat people with respect no matter who they are, because you never know what demons they could be facing on a day-to-day basis.