The anticipated film Joker, starring Joaquin Phoenix, has stirred up large amounts of controversy before its set release date on Oct. 4. In light of the recent mass shootings in the country, some say the film has potential to encourage more violent actions.
The concern is that the film may inspire others to commit sadistic crimes through its hyper-realistic depiction of violence and the glorification of an unstable character. Many of these concerns stem from the 2012 Aurora, Colorado shooting which occurred at the premiere of Batman: The Dark Knight Rises. The crime was committed by a gunman referring to himself as the Joker.
Aidan Takami, a student majoring in interactive media and games, said the character of the Joker has become popular and problematic among “tumultuous communities online”.
“[Online communities] identify with him because of a superior intellect as well as a frustration with society, and their realistic fruition of these thoughts tend to be more violent or similar to that of what you see in the movie,” Takami said. “It’s clear that they do idolize this figure for ways that are more [ill]-intentioned.”
Tayah Atwal, a junior studying interactive media, said the controversy surrounds the way the character is depicted.
“I think (the violence) has more to do with the Joker being so iconic as that sort of menace, that insane menace, and it has historical pretense for it whereas most other things don’t,” Atwal said.
When asked about the controversy surrounding the upcoming film, Fernando Magana said he “heard very little about it” but “knows that they’re being cautious about shootings.”
The senior majoring in cinema and media studies said he think depictions of violence in films like the Joker may contribute to violence in real life, but it is not the root cause.
“Perhaps sometimes these shooters are influenced by some of these characters but I wouldn’t say that it’s the leading cause as to why they go on and do these horrific things,” Magana said.
There is a growing notion among some that perhaps there should be some form of censorship when it comes to films such as this one, but Magana stated ultimately, the responsibility to go out and commit such crimes falls on the individual watching rather than the storyteller.
On the contrary, Rita Konopasky, a junior studying production, said there are levels of responsibility filmmakers should follow.
“I think to an extent, they can’t control how people really react but they have a responsibility of still making sure it’s not super in your face,” Konopasky said.
Amid concerns and rising fears of an incident, LAPD has explained they are aware of the context of the film’s release and have planned extra precautions to ease any fears the public has about seeing the movie.
Officer Drake Madison communicated the department “is aware of public concerns and the historical significance associated with the premiere of the Joker” and “while there are no credible threats in the Los Angeles area, the Department will maintain high visibility around movie theaters when it opens.”
The LAPD encourages the public to go out and enjoy the film but reminds Angelenos to be vigilant and aware of their surroundings.