This article has been changed since its original publication.
Though the early critical buzz for the upcoming comic book movie “Joker” has been generally positive, controversy has been swirling over whether or not the film will inspire lone-wolf nutcases to enact homicidal killing sprees. In a recent interview with Telegraph film critic Robbie Collin, actor Joaquin Phoenix was asked to address this controversy and he chose to walk out the interview instead.
In the interview, Collin asked Phoenix on whether or not he felt concern if the movie “might perversely end up inspiring exactly the kind of people it’s about, with potentially tragic results.”
HuffPost reports that “Phoenix balked at the question.”
“Why? Why would you … ? No, no,” Phoenix said before eventually leaving the room.
Phoenix returned to finish the interview an hour later after negotiating with a Warner Bros. agent. Though he did not answer Collin’s question, Phoenix said that he panicked, arguing that the question blindsided him. The actor did, however, reflect on the film’s violence when speaking with SFX magazine in which he said he experienced no hesitation about depicting such “visceral and raw” violence.
“You always want it to feel real, and you want the little violence that we have to have an impact,” he said. “What happens in a lot of movies is that you get numb to it, you’re killing 40,000 people, you don’t feel it. While being a fictional story in a fictional world, you always want it to feel real. Everything that happens in this movie as far as violence goes, you feel it.”
As reported by Emily Zanotti of The Daily Wire, social justice warriors across the internet have been taking swipes at the film for allegedly glorifying “incel violence” and giving such people a platform for empathy:
According to leftists on social media, “Joker,” which has yet to see a global release — meaning most average theatergoers are still waiting to see Joaquin Phoenix’s take on the iconic Arkham Asylum resident — the film glorifies “incel violence” and “paints mass murder as the logical conclusion” of a “neurodivergent white man being failed by the system.”
In other words — words regularly used by people who haven’t wasted money on a gender studies degree — “Joker” allows “incels,” or the movement of mostly young white men who consider themselves “involuntarily celibate,” to relate to a mainstream character, and explains — and even, they say, justifies — a descent into violence.
A recent article on CBR.com, however, said critics of “Joker” fail to see that the movie never depicts the title character as anything other than a monster.
“Some reviewers argue that at no point does the film place the Joker squarely in the right. Instead, it exposes the world that led Fleck to become a monster. Yet, at the end of the day, he’s still a monster,” said the article. “While you understand, and may even like, the protagonist in Goodfellas, Casino or The King of Comedy, the film goes out of its way to establish he’s not a good person.”
UPDATE: The original headline used the word “flees” in relation to Phoenix’s reaction to the interview. The headline has been changed to “walks out” in order to reflect the fact he returned after negotiations.