Before the release of "The Joker" there was a glut of stories in the media about the film's potential to incite violence.
The FBI issued a warning, saying the film may inspire violence from a group known as the Clowncels, a subgroup of the involuntarily celibate or Incel community.
Incels an online subculture who believe they are unable to attract a sexual partner. The American nonprofit Southern Poverty Law Center describes them as "part of the online male supremacist ecosystem" that is included in its list of hate groups.
Clowncels are obsessed with clowns such as Pennywise from "It," The Joker, and rap group Insane Clown Posse.
It also said that the Joker character is often seen as an inspiration for the 2012 Aurora, Colorado shooter who killed 12 people at a screening of "The Dark Knight Rises."
Opening night has come and gone and there haven't been any reports of violence inspired by the film. It seems the real controversy has surrounded whether the film is actually entertaining or a valid piece of social criticism.
Currently, "The Joker" holds a 69% Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes among all critics.
Phillip De Semlyen of "Time Out" says:
This is a truly nightmarish vision of late-era capitalism — arguably the best social horror film since Get Out — and Joaquin Phoenix is magnetic in it.
Whereas A.O Scott of The New York Times says:
It's hard to say if the muddle "Joker" makes of itself arises from confusion or cowardice, but the result is less a depiction of nihilism than a story about nothing. The look and the sound ... connote gravity and depth, but the movie is weightless and shallow.
Filmmaker Michael Moore found the film to be a timely piece of social criticism and a perfect illustration of the consequences of America's current social ills. Moore praised the film for its take on bankers, healthcare, and the divide between rich and poor.
He also criticized those that feared the film's release saying, "Our country is in deep despair, our constitution is in shreds, a rogue maniac from Queens has access to the nuclear codes — but for some reason, it's a movie we should be afraid of."
Here are five of the most powerful excerpts from Moore's review.
The greater danger to society may be if you DON'T go see this movie. Because the story it tells and the issues it raises are so profound, so necessary, that if you look away from the genius of this work of art, you will miss the gift of the mirror it is offering us. Yes, there's a disturbed clown in that mirror, but he's not alone — we're standing right there beside him.
This movie is not about Trump. It's about the America that gave us Trump — the America which feels no need to help the outcast, the destitute. The America where the filthy rich just get richer and filthier.
Except in this story a discomfiting question is posed: What if one day the dispossessed decide to fight back? And I don't mean with a clipboard registering people to vote. People are worried this movie may be too violent for them. Really? Considering everything we're living through in real life? You allow your school to conduct "active shooter drills" with your children, permanently, emotionally damaging them as we show these little ones that this is the life we've created for them. "Joker" makes it clear we don't really want to get to the bottom of this, or to try to understand why innocent people turn into Jokers after they can no longer keep it together.
The fear and outcry over "Joker" is a ruse. It's a distraction so that we don't look at the real violence tearing up our fellow human beings — 30 million Americans who don't have health insurance is an act of violence. Millions of abused women and children living in fear is an act of violence. Cramming 59 students like worthless sardines into classrooms in Detroit is an act of violence.
Most of the violence in the movie is perpetrated on the Joker himself, a person in need of help, someone trying to survive on the margins of a greedy society. His crime is that he can't get help. His crime is that he is the butt of a joke played on HIM by the rich and famous. When the Joker decides he can no longer take it — yes, you will feel awful. Not because of the (minimal) blood on the screen, but because deep down, you were cheering him on - and if you're honest when that happens, you will thank this movie for connecting you to a new desire — not to run to the nearest exit to save your own ass but rather to stand and fight and focus your attention on the nonviolent power you hold in your hands every single day.
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