Niko Tavernise/Warner Bros. Pictures via AP
Earlier this week, a group of citizens opted to write a letter to try and push Warner Brothers to endorse gun control. The reason, Warner Brothers’ new movie, “The Joker,” the fictional Batman villain.
This is, of course, the same villain the Aurora, CO theater shooter dressed up as, which is all the reason the letter-writers apparently needed to decide to try and pressure the studio. That is, of course, assuming they really even needed a reason.
However, as an op-ed at the Washington Examiner notes, it’s an attack on creative freedom.
Sadly, as my colleague Madeline Fry documents documents, four families are agitating against the upcoming movie, Joker. An origin story following Batman’s nemesis, the movie stars Joaquin Phoenix.
As the BBC notes, the families — who all lost loved ones in the Aurora, Colorado, shooting at a showing of The Dark Knight Rises — are demanding that Warner Bros. “lobby for gun reform, help fund survivor funds and gun violence intervention schemes, and end political contributions to candidates who take money from the NRA.” One of the signatories, Sandy Phillips, explained to the BBC why the group’s ire has fallen on Joker. “When I first saw the trailers of the movie,” Phillips said, “I was absolutely horrified. And then when I dug a little deeper and found out that it had such unnecessary violence in the movie, it just chilled me to my bones because we work with survivors across the country who have been affected by gun violence.” Phillips added, “It just makes me angry that a major motion picture company isn’t taking responsibility and doesn’t have the concern of the public at all.”
I’m sorry for all those who suffered as a result of the Aurora shooting. But I must say, Phillips’ letter makes me angry. It presumes that the role of a motion picture company is to submit to Phillips’ idea of what is acceptable content. If you don’t like the subject of the movie, then don’t go see it.
Look, The Joker isn’t a good guy. He’s a psychotic villain known for extreme violence. He’s basically the antithesis of Batman in that not only is he not calm and methodical like the hero but he also doesn’t share Batman’s disdain for killing people.
He’s a bad guy.
The idea of him being extremely violent is in keeping with the character.
What Phillips’ letter is about, though, is control. Gun control activists don’t just want to push a set of laws down our collective throats, they want to dictate what we can see, read, and talk about. Phillips assumes she knows what we need in our entertainment.
The truth of the matter is that movies are going to be made to appeal to those who will want to see them. That includes violence, for better or worse. If Phillips doesn’t want to see that in her movies–and considering what happened to her daughter at that theater, I would understand why–that’s her prerogative. No one should fault her for that.
But if she’s going to try to use that event to not just try and curtail our civil liberties but also to try and dictate what movies should contain? Well…that tells you all you really need to know about Sandy Phillips and her grasp of freedom, doesn’t it?