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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Todd Phillips blames "far left" for concerns about Joker's violence, wonders what makes John Wick different

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Photo: Warner Bros.

Todd Phillips has proudly joined the ranks of famous people who would’ve been better off saying nothing, as the Joker director has jumped into the debate over the film’s violence and whether or not it could inspire real people to adopt similarly violent behavior with an annoyingly bad take. This comes as the FBI and U.S. military have expressed concerns about “incel” violence at Joker screenings, despite there reportedly being no specific threats or suspects, as well as some family members of the victims from the 2012 The Dark Knight Rises shooting in Colorado questioning whether Joker could inspire a copycat shooter. According to Phillips, though, the real problem isn’t guns or violence or incels, it’s “the far left.”


Speaking with The Wrap, Phillips argued that “outrage” has become “a commodity,” adding, “what’s outstanding to me in this discourse in this movie is how easily the far left can sound like the far right when it suits their agenda.” That’s dumb, since he’s blaming the people who are worried about violence for being worried about violence, but his comment also goes on to be weirdly dismissive of his own film, saying he didn’t want to “push buttons” and just tried “sneak a real movie in the studio system under the guise of a comic book film.” Basically, he’s saying he didn’t want to say anything with Joker, he just wanted to trick Warner Bros. into letting him make a violent movie by putting a famous clown in it.

Phillips didn’t stop there, though. Speaking with the Associated Press about Joker’s violence (via IndieWire), he questioned why everyone’s making such a big deal about his movie when nobody has a problem with other violent movies, especially when they’re also about white guys doing the violence. Referring to the “toxic white male thing,” he says people are all “laughing and hooting and hollering” when John Wick kills 300 people, but not Joker. “Why does this movie get hold to different standards?” he asks. “It honestly doesn’t make sense to me.”

So, let’s explain it to him: John Wick is about one guy with a specific goal to kill the specific people who have wronged him. It’s violent, sure, but the purpose of its violence is to define Keanu Reeves’ character and what he’s capable of. The thing people are concerned about with Joker—whether the concerns have merit or not—is that its violence is based on a guy lashing out at a society that he feels has wronged him. John Wick taking down an organization of assassins is not a thing that happens in real life, but violently lashing out because of perceived slights is something that does happen.

Phillips can be frustrated that people are preemptively blaming his movie for a hypothetical situation that would not even be his movie’s fault (violent media doesn’t make you violent!), but the points he’s making here seem like someone being willfully ignorant of the realities of the world we live in today. Also, everyone should know better than to try and argue that the left and the right are both equally bad in 2019. C’mon, dude. Watch the news some time.