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Todd Phillips: Why Depiction of Realistic Violence in ‘Joker’ Is ‘Very Responsible’

Joaquin Phoenix and Todd PhillipsNYFF57 New
Dave Allocca/StarPix/Shutterstoc

Joker” director Todd Phillips insists that the realistic depiction of gruesome violence in the film is anything but irresponsible.

“Isn’t it a good thing to put real-world implications on violence?” he said on Wednesday after the New York Film Festival screening of the controversial Warner Bros. movie starring Joaquin Phoenix as the iconic DC Comics villain. “Isn’t that a good thing to take away the cartoon element of violence that we’ve become so immune to? So I was a little surprised when it turns into that direction, that it seems irresponsible because to me it seems actually very responsible to make it feel real and make it that weight.”

After the movie’s world premiere last month at the Venice Film Festival and then another big showing at TIFF, family members and friends of the Aurora shooting victims — a mass shooting that occurred at a screening of “The Dark Knight Rises” in 2012 — wrote a letter to the studio expressing concern about the movie’s gun violence. In the letter, they asked the studio to get more involved in the gun control movement while also asking them to refrain from donating to politicians who also accept money from the NRA.

The studio responded with its own statement, which said the movie is not intended as an endorsement of violence and that the filmmakers do not consider the Joker a hero.

At the post-screening panel on Wednesday, Phillips also said, “It’s a complicated movie and I’ve said it before that I think it’s okay that’s it’s complicated.”

However, he added, “I didn’t imagine the level of discourse that it’s reached in the world honestly. I think it’s interesting. I think it’s okay that it sparks conversations and there are debates around it. The film is the statement and it’s great to talk about it but it’s much more helpful if you’ve seen it.”

He went on to criticize people who have attacked “Joker” without seeing the film, although he didn’t think the criticisms would ultimately affect the movie’s performance.

“I don’t know that it’s hurt the movie,” Phillips said. “It probably has helped and it’s good to have people talking.”

20 responses to “Todd Phillips: Why Depiction of Realistic Violence in ‘Joker’ Is ‘Very Responsible’”

  1. Lisa says:

    Wth? Here’s novel idea – how about we cut down on violence instead of arguing over which style is less damaging? Violence is violence and blood is blood. Our subconscious does not know the difference and certainly children’s subconscious is much more impressionable than adults. Children may not have access to the film now but once it reaches streaming, they will. His remarks are irresponsible.

    • Pearl-Clutching "The children! THE CHILDREN!" says:

      You have a child’s mentality. “If we stop the pretend violence, the real violence will go away.” Human nature came before art, which is just a reflection of us. How did the guns in a Batman movie the killer was watching for the first time influence him? He’d already planned and brought his weapons. Your remarks are irresponsible and ignorant.

    • C0tilli0n says:

      We are conscience beings so we know how to differentiate between right and wrong, good and evil. This movie adresses the issues that led a loner with mental illness to killings, the funding for people like him was cut, nobody cared about him, his mother lied to him his whole life, his idol made fun of him. He was attacked in a subway by 3 bussiness men that prob would ve raped a girl if he wouldn’t laugh, he killed them in self defence. These are problems that our society has and needs to deal with them, guess what? you are part of the same society and you need to face the problems.

  2. Uncle milty says:

    Your comments just made anyone and everyone who reads this slightly dumber out of the gate. He may not be “woke” but Mr. Phillips is certainly awake. Now back to adult land.

  3. John bolton says:

    This director is delusional. He made a movie focusing on brainless violence and removed all lore from the joker comics so he focused the personality of this character as being some weirdo loner which was never in the comics. His political motivations to fan gun violence were his main objective and that has nothing to do with the joker from the comic books. What an exploitative irresponsible person and hope hes held responsible for the negative stimuli hes putting out there under the guise of a comic book movie even though he abandoned the comics origins.

    • Popper says:

      Lol all films with joker involve violence. This one involves less than most. “Political motivations to fan gun violence” lol oh he’s the delusional one haha

    • Dave Jordon says:

      @John Bolten “He made a movie focusing on brainless violence and removed all lore from the joker comics so he focused the personality of this character as being some weirdo loner which was never in the comics”

      And at the same time I do not recall the Iron Man character ever involved himself with the Afghanistan war nor were there cell phones back then when Parker became Spiderman, what is your point? It is your choice to become a loyal comic nerd, but don’t bring everyone else into this! At this point half of those super heroes should have been dead by now as some of them have lived past 100 by now.

  4. Holly Woodchick says:

    “In the letter, they asked the studio to get more involved in the gun control movement while also asking them not to refrain from donating to politicians who also accept money from the NRA.”

    So the shooting victims are asking the studio to go ahead and donate to politicians who take money from NRA? Because “not” and “refrain” become a double negative here.

    • grammar says:

      While we always appreciate the grammar police in making proper grammar more important than the issue being discussed, in this case you are not correct. The phrase “not to refrain from donating” is not a double negative because someone can refrain and they can be asked not to do that. However, refrain from not donating would be a double negative.

  5. patrik says:

    disappointment performance dramatic art

  6. Dave Jordon says:

    @John Bolten “He made a movie focusing on brainless violence and removed all lore from the joker comics so he focused the personality of this character as being some weirdo loner which was never in the comics”

    And at the same time I do not recall the Iron Man character ever involved himself with the Gulf War nor were there cell phones back then when Parker became Spiderman, what is your point? It is your choice to become a loyal comic nerd, but don’t bring everyone else into this! At this point half of those super heroes should have been dead by now as some of them have lived past 100 by now.

    • Oui says:

      Umm… Iron Man escaped from the Taliban in the first movie.

      • Dave Jordon says:

        @Oui Which Iron Mans’ origins was not part of the original comic book back in whatever….yes?

    • Dylan Kurbel says:

      The outrage over this film is a pathetic, and transparently political, issue.

      The movie is certainly grim, but that’s by no means unique. It’s sad for most of the runtime, then shocking when Arthur dives head first off the (metaphorical) cliff.

      Yet, it feels like all this buzz over “irresponsible filmmaking” is the real freak show.

  7. TONY says:

    It’s not exactly a feel good movie by any means but i didn’t think the violence was excessive by movie standards; and PS. Let’s agree Phoenix should get an Oscar nomination

  8. happyjack says:

    Violence is popular except when it’s real.

  9. David Williams says:

    Todd Phillips reply that violence in Joker is responsible is purely a real JOKE and NOT FUNNY AT ALL. He should be held responsible for his asinine words.

  10. William says:

    This movie may have too much depth for its critics.
    Joaquin Phoenix is genius and Todd Philips shows his range. Some of the negative reviews feel like an MSNBC news show…

    I never watch the academy awards…but I will this year. Joaquin Phoenix-best actor, Joker- best film PERIOD!.
    ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

  11. Peter Riva says:

    Sam Peckinpah made the exact same nonsense (perhaps wishful thinking) argument with The Wild Bunch – the result? More violence in movies. The problem is, ignorant people who do not know the history of cinema and resultant social responsibility repeat the errors of the past – always for the money (which makes them feel original, when they are not).