In 2012 during a screening of The Dark Knight Rises an audience member in a theater opened fire on the crowd in Aurora, Colorado. Family members of the victims of that shooting have signed a letter to Warner Bros. voicing concerns about the Joker film coming out and has asked the studio to donate to groups that aid victims of gun violence.
“We are calling on you to be a part of the growing chorus of corporate leaders who understand that they have a social responsibility to keep us all safe.”From a copy of the letter shared with Hollywood Reporter
Why They are Worried
The Joker is coming out October 4th, and it boasts about it’s gritty realistic violence and the artistic performance of Joaquin Phoenix. Relatives and Victims are worried about what kind of impact this film could have on the weak minded, since it glorifies violence in such a way.
In the Aurora shooting the murderer was in full body armor and armed with multiple guns. He killed 12 people and injured 70 when he opened fire with an assault rifle(among others).
“My worry is that one person who may be out there — and who knows if it is just one — who is on the edge, who is wanting to be a mass shooter, may be encouraged by this movie. And that terrifies me.”Sandy Phillips whose daughter Jessica was murdered in the theater
A Warner Bros. spokesperson has commented that they have not received this letter and know not what HR speaks of when referencing it.
A Possible Solution
It’s troublesome that this happened and it is associated with a Batman film but filmmakers should also have a responsibility to it. If one knows that something like this may be a trigger it is important to speak out about how you don’t condone this type of behavior. Maybe even be the guiding voice for someone troubled and tell them to seek help if they are having violent thoughts or think they may harm themselves or another.
There are many ways that this could be handled and it may be better for the studio to make a public statement rather than just give money to the charity. Because that can be done quietly, people will be satisfied but it still hasn’t effected any change.
It inspires a larger conversation that should be had and when people and companies as large as Warner Bros open up they will be able to find a suitable solution.
UPDATE: Warner Bros. Response
“Make no mistake: neither the fictional character Joker, nor the film, is 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.”
“Gun violence in our society is a critical issue, and we extend our deepest sympathy to all victims and families impacted by these tragedies. Our company has a long history of donating to victims of violence, including Aurora, and in recent weeks, our parent company joined other business leaders to call on policymakers to enact bi-partisan legislation to address this epidemic. At the same time, Warner Bros. believes that one of the functions of storytelling is to provoke difficult conversations around complex issues.”
Todd Phillip told IGN previously that the film does not endorse the Joker’s behavior. “The movie makes statements about a lack of love, childhood trauma, lack of compassion in the world. I think people can handle that message.”
So it would seem that they have responded to the message and that they are holding to their own beliefs. They are correct in saying that storytelling is to provoke larger conversations of critical thinking into complex issues. So while the Aurora victims didn’t get what they were seeking exactly it seems that the issue at hand was addressed.
What do you think about this? Tell us in the comments!