The upcoming release of Warner Bros. Entertainment’s “Joker” film has been shrouded in controversy.
Supposedly an exploration of the titular villain — the most well-known of comic book superhero Batman’s cadre of criminal enemies — and what led him to a life of psychopathic violence, outrage has long been spinning up in the media surrounding the possibility “Joker” might inspire mass shootings or other violence.
Warner Bros. has decided to bar journalists from the film’s red carpet premiere in Hollywood this weekend in light of escalating media outrage, according to Variety.
“A lot has been said about ‘Joker,’ and we just feel it’s time for people to see the film,” a Warner Bros. spokesperson told the outlet.
Journalists had initially been invited to Saturday’s U.S. premiere at the TCL Chinese Theatre but, now, the spokesperson added, the “red carpet is comprised of photographers only.”
Broadcast journalists and print reporters will now be denied access to the event, and photographers will be greatly restricted in their access to the film’s cast and crew to ensure interviews will not be granted to the media.
The effects of violent media on mass killings have been a hot topic in the last two decades and “Joker” has suffered criticism since its announcement last year as a result.
A film centered around humanizing a character that takes honest joy in mass murder and domestic terrorism, many have argued, is in poor taste.
Particularly in light of the 2012 Century 16 movie theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado — in which James Eagan Holmes killed 12 people and injured 70 at a midnight release screening of Batman film “The Dark Knight.”
In response to speculation that “Joker” screenings may give way to a similar event, Los Angeles Police Department has resolved to take special care with regard to monitoring theaters as the film is released, Variety reported.
But “Joker” director Todd Phillips pushed back against the criticism last week in an interview with The Wrap, defending the film on its artistic merits as social commentary and rebuking media outrage culture.
“I’m surprised,” Phillips said. “Isn’t it good to have these discussions? Isn’t it good to have these discussions about these movies, about violence? Why is that a bad thing if the movie does lead to a discourse about it?”
“I think it’s because outrage is a commodity, I think it’s something that has been a commodity for a while,” he added. “What’s outstanding to me in this discourse in this movie is how easily the far left can sound like the far right when it suits their agenda. It’s really been eye opening for me.”