What’s the Deal with the Controversy Surrounding ‘Joker?’


Warner Bros. Pictures

This is one of the first few images of the film that was released to the public. From this photo, many people could tell that it was going to be a darker movie and political concerns were already being formed about the effects of this film on impressionable teenagers.

“Joker” just recently hit theaters on Oct. 4 with overwhelmingly positive audience reviews, but not without an enormous controversy and backlash from critics. Several professional film critics have accused this movie of being politically incorrect and irresponsible. “Joker,” which originally earned an 85% on Rotten Tomatoes, has since dipped down to a 68% after several mainstream complaints about the controversial setting of the movie. 


Many reviews seem to be criticizing the political environment surrounding the movie rather than the movie itself. These people seem to be worrying about the possibility of this movie being violent. Susan Granger writes “[The movie is] brutally nihilistic and morally irresponsible…leaving one to wonder if a reel threat could inspire a real threat.” Statements like this have given the internet a field day with controversy, so much so that some theatres have taken measures to have extra security in the form of armed police standing guard during the “Joker” screenings. These recent events have sparked many questions, most of which involve today’s youth. With this in mind, what do North Forsyth’s students have to say about this topic?


Junior Brandon Brooks feels like the critic score is too focused on unimportant details of the film that do not matter. He prefers the “more relatable” audience score as it isn’t as focused on politics, which he personally doesn’t take interest in. Contrary to the critics, he suggests that it is a well written movie that will be remembered for years to come. And that the reason it has high ratings from the audience “is because it stands out from a multitude of other movies that attempt to capture supervillains/villains… It will inspire art, costumes, and will definitely continue to gain publicity.”


When asked if he thought that the movie was inappropriate or irresponsible, he stated that “it is exactly what they meant for the ‘Joker’ plot to encompass. It is meant to deviate from comfortable feelings and is more focused on causing the audience to see insanity in a more realistic way. This movie attempts to uncover the everyday thoughts of a mentally troubled man in an imperfect world. I don’t think it is inappropriate.” He concludes that it is up to all of us to make our own decisions based on events. He also believes that this movie will inspire people at NFHS to gain more interest in the Joker character as a whole, but he disagrees that it will cause students to commit acts of violence.


Mathew Stead, a sophomore, agrees with Brandon.Saying the movie sparks violence is like saying that spoons make you fat… it doesn’t start the violence.” Mathew  also proposed that the hatred and overall conflict surrounding this movie is directed at pop culture as a whole, and that this movie is just a manifestation of recent trends and events over the past few years. With that in mind, he feels like this movie will be forgotten in the coming years and doesn’t think that it will have a great effect on future superhero/villain movies or pop culture in general.


Stead disagrees with the statements that the movie is irresponsible and believes that it just provides information on the iconic comic book character’s origin and does not actually promote violence. Although he states that the movie “might give [violent] ideas,” he believes that the critics and political scoring of the movie is accurate and just represents people’s different opinions. He also suggests that the rating difference might be a generational issue and that older generations are disgusted and appalled  with the “over dramatic” and “bleak” tragedy, while the newer generation may see it as acceptable in today’s society.


Overall, North Forsyth’s  student population seems to think that critic scores should not be taken too seriously, especially by the younger generations. The general consensus is that this movie is not irresponsible and does not promote violence. Even so, both students feel like parents need to understand that, despite being a comic book movie, “Joker” is unfit for younger audiences. Brandon states that  “it is a movie that while intended to be entertaining, it contains material that is unfit for young children whose parents want to teach wholesome life principles, which, if investigated deeply, could be found in the Joker movie, but are not easy for children to identify and understand.”