‘Joker’ movie creates controversy

On+the+entrance+doors+to+Marcus+Theaters+a+new+increased+security+bag+policy+goes+into+effect+3+days+before+the+premier+of+%27Joker%27.+A+sign+also+warns+that+no+costumes+are+allowed+during+screenings+of+%27Joker%27%2C+showing++the+increased+tension+and+cautiousness+around+the+film.

Photo by Kathleen Pothen

On the entrance doors to Marcus Theaters a new increased security bag policy goes into effect 3 days before the premier of ‘Joker’. A sign also warns that no costumes are allowed during screenings of ‘Joker’, showing the increased tension and cautiousness around the film.

Kathleen Pothen, Copy Editor

‘Joker’ premiered at the Venice Film Festival Aug. 31 earning acclaim from critics including an eight minute standing ovation. Praise swiftly morphed into criticism. Controversy has brewed around ‘Joker’ and its relationship with mass shooters. 

The film is set within chaotic and dirty Gotham City, which draws inspiration from New York City during the late 1970s. Arthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix) is a poor, mentally ill man who works as a clown, but dreams of becoming a comedian like his idol Murray Franklin (Robert De Niro). Fleck has a strange relationship with humor, often bursting into uncontrollable shrieking and hacking fits of laughter. Because of his inability to connect with others, discontinuing his medications and constant bullying, Fleck becomes increasingly vio

Graphic by Jayne Diaz

lent and delusional.

The movie attempts to tackle many present-day issues such as the disparity between rich and poor, abuse, mental illness and political unrest. 

The film was shown almost everywhere nationwide except the Century 16 theater in Aurora, Colorado. This is due to concern from victims families of the 2012 shooting during a screening of ‘The Dark Knight Rises’. Controversy has arisen around ‘Joker’ because of the similarity of his mindset and violent acts are to mass shooters. 

Alex Maas a school-based therapist understands the community’s decision to not screen the movie but believes that “avoidances indicative that as a whole, our culture and society has issues that need to be addressed that aren’t easy ones; gun control, mental health, and where these two overlap, is a troubling issue that doesn’t seem to have any simple solutions that people are able to agree upon.”

“avoidances indicative that as a whole, our culture and society has issues that need to be addressed that aren’t easy ones; gun control, mental health, and where these two overlap, is a troubling issue that doesn’t seem to have any simple solutions that people are able to agree upon.””

— Alex Maas

This is also one of the reasons why  ‘Joker’ is an important movie. It provokes the audience to contemplate about these issues within our current world. Unlike many super villain movies that are set in unrealistic worlds with unrealistic plots, ‘Joker’ grounds itself in real life issues and promotes discussion.

The film received an R rating, showing how the franchise matures with its audience.

The film’s audience contains people such as senior Estelle Fearing who plans to see the film. She explains she watched ‘Batman’ and ‘Joker’ cartoons as a kid. 

The film stars Joaquin Phoenix. Junior Maia Bergan enjoyed Phoenix in his earlier films. She also is a fan of Heath Ledger who previously played the Joker. She hopes Phoenix is similarly entertaining because “Ledger did a really good job,” Bergan said. 

Phoenix embodied the Joker. He lost 50 lbs for the role, creating a pitiful skeletal figure, he used his voice to create the Joker’s signature chilling laugh and his tired eyes and trembling mannerisms portrayed the unstable nature of the Joker. 

The musical score also contributed heavily to the film by contrasting classics such as “That’s Life” by Frank Sinatra with dark minimalist orchestral pieces, which effectively created a tense and dark atmosphere.

This film successfully showed a realistic origin story for the Joker. Despite the controversy and polarizing reviews, the film delivered on what it had promised. It told a bleak and realistic origin story of an enduring super villain. What it also accomplished was spark an important conversation around complicated issues.