In an interview with The Wrap published on Wednesday, Joker director Todd Phillips claps back at the critics concerned that the film’s portrayal of murderous loner Arthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix) could have real-world ramifications. Phillips, who is best known for directing the Hangover series, told The Wrap that the criticism has been “really eye-opening for me.”
“I think it’s because outrage is a commodity. I think it’s something that’s been a commodity for a while,” he said. “What’s outstanding to me in the discourse of this movie is how easily the far left can sound like the far right when it suits their agenda.” Phillips added that he believes opening up the conversation about violence and film should be viewed as positive.
Earlier this week (but after the interview with Phillips took place), the families of the 2012 Aurora shooting victims sent a letter to the CEO of Warner Bros. expressing their qualms with the movie and calling on the studio to support gun reform efforts. Warner Bros. responded in a statement citing its “long history of donating to victims of violence, including Aurora.” The statement then clarified, “Make no mistake: neither the fictional character Joker, nor the film, is an endorsement of real-world violence of any kind.”