'Joker': Joaquin Phoenix Responds To Concerns As Warner Bros. Comes To Its Defense

When Joaquin Phoenix rushed out of an interview for Joker rather than answer a legit question about the possibility of inspiring real-life violence, it really wasn't a good look. At best, he looked unprepared for a question he was sure to get. At worst, he looked like he didn't care about the movie's potential impact.  There needed to be a better response, not only from Phoenix but from Warner Bros., and now we have both.

Speaking with IGN in what they say was  before his infamous Telegraph interview, Phoenix at least has a more thoughtful answer to the question about Joker possibly inspiring others to violence...

“The truth is you don’t know what is going to be the fuel for somebody. And it might very well be your question. It might be this moment, right? But you can’t function in life saying, ‘Well, I can’t ask that question for the small chance that somebody might be affected by [it].’ I wouldn’t ask you to do that."

"It’s uncomfortable. It’s uncomfortable for all of us. I think we all are aware of these issues and we’re concerned, and I think that’s why we talk about it. I don’t think that we can be afraid to talk about it. So I understand why you asked that question. But I think the same way that you feel that you need to ask that question and engage in the conversation this way, I think that’s how I feel as an actor. And that’s all I have to say.”

It should be noted that IGN has since made it less of this interview's timing, and I think you can see why. No way would it have made any sense for him to be rational here, but get thrown for a loop if asked the same question again later.

Regardless, the timing is beneficial because it comes as survivors of the horrific 2012 Aurora, Colorado shooting, the one where the shooter came dressed as the DC Comics villain, have expressed concern about Joker being portrayed as the movie's hero. In their open letter they encourage Warner Bros. to contribute more to anti-violence campaigns and cease support of political candidates who support the NRA.

Warner Bros. has responded with a statement of their own that fully defends Joker and the intent behind it.

“Gun violence in our society is a critical issue, and we extend our deepest sympathy to all victims and families impacted by these tragedies. 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. Make no mistake: 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. “

What's that they say about best laid plans? As Phoenix said, it's impossible to know what's going to inspire a person to do anything, and while Warner Bros. may have the best of intentions Joker isn't being released into a vacuum, and we can already see that it has the power to motivate some strong reactions.