Joker has received some rave reviews since its showing at the 76th Venice International Film Festival, but also considerable controversy.
This DC Standalone film, which chronicles the origin of Batman’s archnemesis, has been criticized by certain media outlets and moviegoers for potentially inspiring the rise of white terrorism.
In particular, the idea that a man who has been dealt a bad hand in life might lash out violently upon society. And while some have derided such possibilities, the question was put to both Joker actor Joaquin Phoenix and director Todd Phillips in recent interviews.
Talking to IGN at a press junket, Phillips said that these “think pieces” were “written by people who proudly state they haven’t even seen the movie and they don’t need to”. Rather than criticize Joker before it’s even released in cinemas, he suggested that critics and moviegoers go in “with an open mind”.
Phillips was clear to say that he doesn’t think the movie’s message is too heavy-handed for viewers. “The movie makes statements about a lack of love, childhood trauma, lack of compassion in the world. I think people can handle that message,” he told IGN.
Phillips criticized the trend of people making judgments on behalf of others as “bizarre” and that “filmmaking will always be a complicated art”.
Although recent Joker criticisms from the likes of VICE and Gizmodo have expressed disappointment that Phoenix himself hasn’t answered questions about what they perceive to be the movie’s troubling themes, the actor did chime in a little on the subject:
Well, I think that, for most of us, you’re able to tell the difference between right and wrong. And those that aren’t are capable of interpreting anything in the way that they may want to. People misinterpret lyrics from songs. They misinterpret passages from books. So I don’t think it’s the responsibility of a filmmaker to teach the audience morality or the difference between right or wrong. I mean, to me, I think that that’s obvious.
He went on to say that they shouldn’t “be afraid to talk about [the issues]” in Joker. Even though a few people may be affected by it, he felt that they should still ask tough questions through film.
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