Todd Phillips and Joaquin Phoenix on red carpet
Getty Images / Geoff Robins

One of the most anticipated movies of 2019,  Joker has been lauded as a “masterpiece” and even took home the prize for best film at the Venice Film Festival. However, the movie has also garnered major criticism for its alleged glorification of violence, with some critics going so far as to call it a “rallying cry” for incels. Now Joker‘s director, Todd Phillips, has spoken out about the controversy surrounding the film.

In an interview with The Wrap, Phillips pushed back against criticisms, saying “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.” The director explained “We didn’t make the movie to push buttons […] It wasn’t, ‘We want to glorify this behavior.’”

“I’m surprised…” Phillips admits, “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?”

Speaking to the Associated Press, Phillips said that he feels that Joker is being unfairly judged compared to other violent movies, citing John Wick 3 as an example. “He’s a white male who kills 300 people and everybody’s laughing and hooting and hollering. Why does this movie get held to different standards? It honestly doesn’t make sense to me.”

Earlier this week, Gizmodo revealed that the FBI had issued a warning to service members about the potential for a mass shooting at Joker screenings due to “disturbing and very specific chatter” on the dark web. Yesterday, the LAPD issued a statement to Deadline saying that “while there are no credible threats in the Los Angeles area, the Department will maintain high visibility around movie theaters when it opens.”

Words by Sarah Osei
Staff Writer