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US military warns service members of potential for mass killings during screenings of Warner Bros. 'Joker'


Controversy surrounding the film continues to grow

Image source: YouTube screenshot

The U.S. military issued a warning to its troops advising them of a potential threat of violence during upcoming screenings of Warner Bros. "Joker."

The new film, which stars Joaquin Phoenix as the movie's namesake "Joker," is set to hit theaters Oct. 4 and has been at the center of recent controversy.

What is this alleged threat all about?

The U.S. Army Base at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, warned commanders of the threat in a Monday memo.

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

According to Stars and Stripes, the intelligence bulletin came from the Travis County, Texas, sheriff's office in conjunction with the local FBI field office.

"Commanders need to be aware of this threat for Soldier and family safety and to increase situational awareness should they choose to attend the release of this movie," a portion of the memo reads.

Additionally, U.S. military also received a second memo on Tuesday, warning service members that there have been incidents of posts on social media that have "made reference to involuntary celibate ("incel") extremists replicating the 2012 theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado, at screenings of the 'Joker' movie at nationwide theaters," according to Gizmodo.

The outlet points out that "[i]ncels are individuals who express frustration from perceived disadvantages to starting intimate relationships" who "idolize violent individuals like the Aurora movie theater shooter."

Film is getting a lot of early press — for the wrong reasons

Families of the Aurora, Colorado, mass killing victims called on Warner Bros. to help fight gun violence earlier this week in an open letter to the production company.

A deranged 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.

2019's "Joker" follows a man whose significant mental illness leads to him committing acts of violence.

The letter requested that the studio donate to advocacy groups that help victims of gun violence. It also asks the production company to dissociate itself from politicians who support the NRA.

"We are the family members and friends of the 12 people killed at the Century 16 movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, at a screening of 'The Dark Knight Rises' on July 20, 2012," a portion of the open letter reads. "This tragic event, perpetrated by a socially isolated individual who felt 'wronged' by society has changed the course of our lives."

"When we learned that Warner Bros. was releasing a movie called 'Joker' that presents the character as a protagonist with a sympathetic origin story, it gave us pause," the letter continued. The letter explained that while the group supports both free speech and expression, it also believes that the studio is responsible for using its "massive platform and influence to join us in our fight to build safer communities with fewer guns."

Is anybody saying anything in defense of the film?

During a Tuesday interview, Phoenix said 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 reasoned. "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 pointed out that emotionally disturbed people can find inspiration anywhere in order to carry out violent actions.

"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." "It's uncomfortable. It's uncomfortable for all of us," Phoenix added. "I think we all are aware of these issues and we're concerned, and I think that's why we talk about it. I don't think that we can be afraid to talk about it."

JOKER - Final Trailer

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