The U.S. military has warned service members to be on the lookout for potential mass shootings at screenings of Todd Phillips' upcoming Joker.
According to Gizmodo, the warning was issued after the FBI uncovered social media posts related to extremists classified as "incels" about the film. Service members were instructed to “identify two escape routes” when entering theaters and, in the event of an attack, to “run, hide [and] fight.” The FBI also noted that this was just a precaution and that they are unaware of any specific terror plots or suspects.
“We do this routinely because the safety and security of our workforce is paramount. We want our workforce to be prepared and diligent on personal safety both inside the workplace and out,” an Army spokesperson said.
Coined in the 90s, "incels" refers to “involuntary celibate” men, a group of individuals who believe they are entitled to romantic partners but have wrongfully been denied them by society. For some, this anger could lead to violent, racists and misogynistic tendencies. In the email to its service members, the FBI noted that these men "idolize the Joker character, the violent clown from the Batman series, admiring his depiction as a man who must pretend to be happy, but eventually fights back against bullies.” James Holmes, the man responsible for the 2012 The Dark Knight Rises shooting, was lionized by the incel community following his attack.
The warning comes as Warner Bros. deals with concerns about the film's potential glorification of violence. The Century Aurora and XD, the same theater where the 2012 The Dark Knight Rises shooting took place, will not screen the film, and the families of the victims of the shooting penned a letter to the studio sharing their concerns about the movie.
Warner Bros. responded to the worries with a statement which read: "Make no mistake: neither the fictional character Joker, nor the film, is an endorsement of real-world violence of any kind. It is not the intention of the film, the filmmakers or the studio to hold this character up as a hero." Both Phillips and star Joaquin Phoenix have dismissed these growing concerns, saying they are unwarranted.
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. The film arrives in theaters Oct. 4.