Joker Premiere Disinvites Journalists Amid Criticisms of Promoting Violence

09/27/2019 05:06 pm EDT

Warner Bros. will no longer allow print and broadcast journalists access to the stars of Joker at its Hollywood premiere on Saturday, Variety reports. Per the report published Friday, only photographers will be allowed access to talent and filmmakers. The restriction comes just days after the U.S military issued a warning about the DC Comics-inspired drama — already under fire for being centered around the infamous Batman villain, presented here as a mentally ill loner who lashes out at society — telling service members to keep a watchful eye in the event Joker should inspire “incels” to commit real-life acts of terror and violence, including potential mass shootings.

“Our red carpet is comprised of photographers only,” a studio spokesperson told Variety. “A lot has been said about Joker, and we just feel it’s time for people to see the film.”

The decision also appears to be tied to an incident that occurred with the film’s star, Joaquin Phoenix, who reportedly walked out of an interview with The Telegraph when asked if Joker and his character — failed comedian and leper Arthur Fleck — might connect with and then “perversely” inspire like-minded individuals to violence. In its interview with Phoenix, Telegraph asked the star if he thought Joker could “perversely end up inspiring exactly the kind of people it's about, with potentially tragic results.” That situation was calmed with the intervention of a WB press representative.

Director Todd Phillips has fielded similar questions despite saying his film doesn’t glorify violence and wasn’t created to “push buttons.”

“I mean, I think that Aurora is obviously a horrible, horrible situation but even that is not something you blame on the movie,” Phillips recently told the Associated Press of the mass shooting committed in an Aurora, Colorado, movie theater during a showing of Batman movie The Dark Knight Rises in 2012. “Quite frankly, if you do your own research about Aurora that gentleman wasn’t even going in as Joker. That was misreported, his hair was dyed red, he was having, obviously, a mental breakdown and there’s something horrifying about that, but it wasn’t related to it outside of the fact that it happened at a movie theater.”

Phillips then said that is “not the thing that the movie is trying to represent.”

“The movie still takes place in a fictional world. It can have real-world invocations, options, but it’s a fictional character in a fictional world that’s been around for 80 years,” Phillips continued of his Gotham City-set Joker. “The one that bugs me more is the toxic white male thing when you go, ‘Oh, I just saw John Wick 3.’ He’s a white male who kills 300 people and everybody’s laughing and hooting and hollering. Why does this movie get held to different standards? It honestly doesn’t make sense to me.”

On Friday, military officials reported a “credible” mass shooting threat allegedly targeting Joker’s opening weekend.

In a statement published on Tuesday, WB said that “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.”

Starring Joaquin Phoenix, Zazie Beetz, Frances Conroy and Robert De Niro, Joker opens October 4.

Disclosure: ComicBook is owned by CBS Interactive, a division of ViacomCBS.

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