Less than a week after release, Todd Phillips' Joker continues to garner controversy over its depictions of violence, which some worry could inspire similar acts in the real world. Since its premiere at the Venice Film Festival, where it won the prestigious Golden Lion for best film, concerns over the resemblance of Arthur Fleck/The Joker to recent mass shooters in the U.S. has had at least one movie theater refusing to show the film.
As a result of these fears, security for the film has been stepped up, and a California man took the opportunity to play a joke that has resulted in his being banned from the AMC theater chain. According to The Hollywood Reporter, a Twitter user posted a photo of a flyer, which was taped to a ticket kiosk at a theater in Orange, California. The flyer read, "Please note: We are enforcing a strict NO SINGLES POLICY for tonight's showings of JOKER due to safety precautions. We will not be admitting anyone without an additional partner." He captioned the photo, "Great, I can’t see Joker because I’m here alone. Wtf AMC Theaters?'"
The flyer was created and placed on the ticket kiosk by the photo-taker, apparently as an extension of a joke with his friends. Though he didn't take the prank seriously, AMC Theatres did. The chain's Twitter feed spent a good deal of time responding to queries about the "no-singles" sign, noting that, "This sign was not posted by us, and this is not our policy. The sign was removed as soon as it was found by the theatre team." When AMC security tracked down the poster, the VP of AMC Security sent a letter to the prankster, banning him from the chain's theaters.
The film has been accused, through its depiction of a sad, lonely and increasingly violent Fleck, of pandering to the "incel" -- or "involuntary celibate" -- demographic. The incels, originally a support group for lonely and introverted people, has become a group who are often extremely misogynistic young men who blame women for their inability to form meaningful relationships. The term jumped into the spotlight following a mass killing in Toronto in 2018 by a self-described incel.
As incel culture continues to grow more and more toxic, critics are worried that the film will be seen less as an indictment of such violence, and more as a call to arms for those who are already prone to such actions. Survivors Empowered, a gun violence activist group that formed in the wake of the 2012 shooting in Aurora Colorado at a showing of Batman: The Dark Knight Rises, have called upon Warner Brothers to accompany the release of the film with political action against gun violence.
Directed by Todd Phillips, Joker stars Joaquin Phoenix, Robert De Niro, Zazie Beetz, Bill Camp, Frances Conroy, Brett Cullen, Glenn Fleshler, Douglas Hodge, Marc Maron, Josh Pais and Shea Whigham.