With “Joker” set to release in cinemas on Oct. 4, the run up to its debut has had a lot of controversy.
The recent report about LAPD heightening their security ahead of the film showcases an issue with the current conversation surrounding violence. The film is largely being used to discuss the rise in violence on our streets. With the increase in gun violence in the United States, films like “Joker” are being used to try to explain the epidemic.
Indeed, video games have been used as part of the argument. Donald Trump claimed that it was these violent games that led to the increased aggression on the streets. There is no evidence for this however. “Joker” is yet another way to explain these extreme issues. Whatever your opinion on the use of film to discuss politics, one thing is clear: To treat a film like “Joker” in this way is to stifle future creativity.
The problem with attributing these political and social issues to films is that they can limit what we produce. Cinema is as much an art as many other creative projects. If we set political limitations on what we produce then this is in some way limiting freedom of speech. Not only this, the films we create will no longer reflect society.
“Joker” does not wish to influence society at all. It is not seeking to increase gun violence across the states, or start some kind of revolution. Ironically, it is reflecting a truth that already exists across America and the wider world. To ban a film like “Joker”, for instance, is to ban a movie doing what it does best: Showing humanity its flaws.
What this Means for the Future
If “Joker” is continued to be used in this way, it could have dire consequences for the future of the industry. The controversy surrounding the film is dangerous. It may increase publicity, but at what cost? Perhaps future film makers will be more cautious. They may wish to self edit to avoid such bad press. Or perhaps studios themselves will limit their projects. What if films started getting fundamentally changed because of this conversation?
One could argue that film simply isn’t important enough. That protecting the peace is more vital. But if there’s no proven evidence to link these claims between film and violence, then what are we protecting? Some reports even suggest that films can limit crimes like assault. If we allow politics to impact “Joker” then we set a dangerous precedent – one that could damage our beloved pastime and one that we may not be able to recover from. That is important for society. If we are no longer shown our truth through film, then what do we have to accurately reflect us?