Warner Brothers Releases Statement After Film Faces Backlash Over Violence Amid Mass Shootings

Warner Bros. has released a statement on the backlash surrounding “Joker,” following concerns that the film is glamorizing mass murder.

“Joker” is the highly anticipated upcoming film about one of DC’s most iconic villains, The Joker. The R-rated film will tell an in-depth story of the character, and is expected to portray Joker’s cruel and unusual violence and mass killings. With more than 340 mass shootings in the last two years in the U.S., many have turned a concerned eye towards Warner Brothers, questioning why the studio would produce such a film during this time. Some fans said the film would only perpetuate the idea that mass killing is normal and further desensitize the audiences to violence.

However, Warner Bros. says that’s not its intention at all. The studio released a statement saying it in no way wants to associate the character. “Make no mistake: neither the fictional character Joker, nor the film, is an endorsement of real-world violence of any kind,” the statement read. “It is not the intention of the film, the filmmakers, or the studio to hold this character up as a hero.” WB released the statement after family members and friends of victims who died in the 2012 mass shooting at a screening of “The Dark Knight Rises” in Aurora, Colo., wrote a letter to the studio expressing apprehension about the film being released.

The letter went on to support the studio’s right to freedom of speech and artistic expression but urged WB to get involved with the gun control movement, and to pledge not to donate to political candidates who receive money from the NRA, Variety reports. Warner Bros. explained the company has historically supported those causes. “Gun violence in our society is a critical issue, and we extend our deepest sympathy to all victims and families impacted by these tragedies,” the statement reads. “Our company has a long history of donating to victims of violence, including Aurora, and in recent weeks, our parent company joined other business leaders to call on policymakers to enact bi-partisan legislation to address this epidemic. At the same time, Warner Bros. believes that one of the functions of storytelling is to provoke difficult conversations around complex issues.”

During an interview with IGN, Todd Phillips, the film’s director, said the film is not praising Joker’s poor behavior. “The movie makes statements about a lack of love, childhood trauma, lack of compassion in the world,” he said. “I think people can handle that message.”

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