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'Joker' director slams people on the 'far left' who want to stir up controversy about new film

'Outrage is a commodity'

Image source: YouTube screenshot

Todd Phillips, director of Warner Bros.' new "Joker" film, is speaking out against people who are using the film to cause division in the United States.

In an interview with The Wrap, Phillips defended the film, and insisted that it is not the intention of the project to glorify violence.

So what did he say?

Phillips told the outlet's Sharon Waxman that the studio in no way is glorifying or pardoning violent behavior.

"We didn't make the movie to push buttons," Phillips said. "I literally described to Joaquin at one point in those three months as like, 'Look at this as a way to sneak a real movie in the studio system under the guise of a comic book film.' It wasn't, 'We want to glorify this behavior.' It was literally like 'Let's make a real movie with a real budget and we'll call it f***ing Joker.' That's what it was."

"I think it's because outrage is a commodity," he explained. "I think it's something that has been a commodity for a while. What's outstanding to me in this discourse in this movie is how easily the far left can sound like the far right when it suits their agenda."

He added, "It's been really eye-opening for me."

On Tuesday, Warner Bros. issued a statement of its own on the controversy surrounding the film, which is set for an Oct. 4 release.

"Warner Bros. believes that one of the functions of storytelling is to provoke difficult conversations around complex issues," a statement from the studio read. "Make no mistake: neither the fictional character Joker, nor the film, is an endorsement of real-world violence of any kind. It is no the intention of the film, the filmmakers, or the studio, to hold this character up as a hero."

What else?

Earlier this week, the U.S. military was forced to issue a warning to its troops advising them of a potential threat of violence during upcoming screenings of the film.

A memo, pointing to an intelligence bulletin, warned troops of a "credible potential mass shooting to occur at an unknown movie theater," adding that there had been "disturbing and very specific chatter on the dark web" about such an incident.

Families of the Aurora, Colorado, mass killing victims also called on the studio for what the group said is the production company's responsibility to help fight gun violence. A killer shot moviegoers at a theater in 2012 during a screening of "The Dark Knight Rises." The mass killing took the lives of at least 12 people and injured more than 70 others. Early reports said that the killer had referred to himself as "the Joker" — but a subsequent investigation found that the killer never made such claims.

Joaquin Phoenix, who portrays the Joker in the new film, has publicly insisted that he doesn't believe the film is dangerous or would inspire violence.

"I think that, for most of us, you're able to tell the difference between right and wrong," Phoenix said. "And those that aren't are capable of interpreting anything in the way that they may want to. People misinterpret lyrics from songs. They misinterpret passages from books. So I don't think it's the responsibility of a filmmaker to teach the audience morality or the difference between right or wrong. I mean, to me, I think that that's obvious."

The 44-year-old actor also said that disturbed individuals can find inspiration for violence anywhere.

"The truth is you don't know what is going to be the fuel for somebody," Phoenix explained. "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."

You can read more about the controversy surrounding the film's release here and here.

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