• By Tyler Berkheimer

“Joker” on track to become the highest grossing rated R film amidst media backlash

Another film based upon DC Comics has been released.

“Joker” has captivated audiences and riled up the media. The success of the film can be largely credited towards Joaquin Phoenix who delivers one of the best performances of the Joker character.

“Joker” raked in $96.2 million domestically over the opening weekend and currently has amassed $745.1 million worldwide. The film received massive backlash from critics of the film claiming that violence was glorified and mental illness was portrayed inappropriately.

CNN circulated writer Kathleen Newman-Bremang's criticism of the film, as her take was particularly aggressive. Newman-Bremang claimed that the portrayal of the Joker was used to elicit sympathy for a criminal.

Movie critics, members of the media, and concerned citizens flocked to social media afraid that someone would commit an act of violence at one of the screenings of “Joker.” These individuals cited the 2012 shooting in Aurora, Colorado at the premier of “The Dark Knight Rises”.

The Century 16 theater, where the Aurora shooting occurred, refused to show “Joker.” A spokesperson for the theater stated that the refusal was a response to the concerns of a copycat shooter.

Phoenix, the actor of the most recent Joker adaptation, was encouraged by viewers having such a strong reaction to the film, adding that “it means we did something right.” Phoenix acknowledged critics’ concerns and responded by saying the intention of the film is not to glorify violence or psychopaths, but to raise awareness of issues related to mental health.

The director of “Joker,” Todd Phillips, called out the “woke culture” and members of the far left who criticized the film. Phillips believes they misunderstood the values of the movie and are outraged for the sake of being outraged.

Stephanie Zacharek, author of Time magazine’s “The Problem With Joker Isn't Its Brutal Violence. It's the Muddled Message It Sends About Our Times” said, “The movie lionized and glamorizes [main character] Arthur even as it shakes its head, faux-sorrowfully, over his violent behavior.”

After two full viewings of the movie, I do not believe the intention of the film was to glorify violence, but rather bring attention to the reasons people commit heinous acts in the first place.

Many of the negative criticisms come from a place of valid concern, but they are misguided, misinformed, and simply fear mongering. The film didn’t portray mental illness in a bad light. Some scenes were shocking and twisted, but the film was intended to show how some people treat those with mental illnesses.

In one scene while meeting with his psychiatrist, Arthur’s notebook is shown with the phrase “the worst part about having a mental illness is people expect you to act as if you don’t.” This phrase summarizes one theme of the movie. Although Arthur attempts to explain his condition to others, he is repeatedly beaten, harassed and otherwise mistreated because of his mental illness.

The film shows how people, intentionally or not, can mistreat people with mental illnesses, as well as the resulting serious and ongoing effects that can arise. Many individuals do not feel comfortable discussing this issue, which leads to a broad lacking of education on the matter. If there was a greater awareness of the realities of mental illness, there could be less stigma and more understanding.