Whenever there’s an outbreak of violence, or worse a shooting, in our nation, there’s a push from a vocal minority to link it to mass media. Video games, television shows and feature films often are blamed for inspiring an active shooter, as when The Matrix was linked to shooting at a high school in Columbine, or how Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises was blamed for a movie-theater shooting because it happened to be on the screen when a gunman opened fire in Aurora, Colorado.
Recent chatter has emerged around the October 4 release of Todd Phillips’ Joker, with Aurora families writing Warner Bros. and asking the studio to help increase awareness for gun safety. In response to the headlines, at least one major theater chain has weighed in regarding their policy ahead of Joker’s opening. In a statement provided to The Wrap, a Regal spokesperson said:
The shootings in Auroa, Colorado were shocking. In 2012, audiences were merely excited to see how Christopher Nolan would conclude his Batman trilogy, and did not expect to become the center of the gun debate because an attack happened to take place at a multiplex.
However, in the years that have followed, mass shootings have occurred in almost all corners of our environment, from schools and churches to the streets of Las Vegas during a concert. In the wake of these attacks, everyone seeks increased security and hopes to raise awareness on potential gun violence.
That doesn’t mean that we necessarily see why this push is being linked to a movie like Joker. While those who have seen the movie recognize that Joaquin Phoenix’s comic-book villain serves as a catalyst for anarchy, claiming that anything that happens in this movie differs from most of the films opening in theaters on a weekly basis is miscalculated.
Even Joker director Todd Phillips recognized the imbalanced scrutiny his movie appears to be facing, even before it has opened in theaters. Citing a comparison to a violent movie like John Wick, Phillips told The Associated Press:
No one wants to see anything violent happen at a movie theater. For so many of us, the movie theater is a place of escape, a means of transporting ourselves into far-away stories on the biggest screens possible. And while we in no way mean to downplay the concerns raised by the families from Aurora, where a tragic event took place, we encourage everyone to stay vigilant at EVERY movie they go to see – not just Joker – and to say something if you see something. Reporting a potential threat can help prevent a possible attack. Look out for each other, and enjoy the movies.
Sean O’Connell is a journalist and CinemaBlend’s Managing Editor. He's frequently found on Twitter at @Sean_OConnell. ReelBlend cohost. A movie junkie who's Infatuated with comic-book films. Helped get the Snyder Cut released, then wrote a book about it.
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