One movie that’s catching headlines recently is “Joker,” a spin-off about the classic Batman villain telling his story. But the film isn’t catching headlines for Joaquin Phoenix’s performance, but for a reason of controversy; does “Joker glamorize” serial killers, and should movies in this day and age cause viewers to sympathize for villains?
“Joker” isn’t the only movie to stir up controversy, “The Wolf of Wall Street,” starring Leonardo DiCaprio, had mixed reviews when it came out back in 2013. The movie focused on a stockbroker who worked on Wall Street and eventually created his own firm. The movie was accused of glamorizing this sex-crazed, drug addict, who cheated his investors in order to make a fortune. It made lying and cheating your way to wealth seem cool and smart. Another movie, “Suicide Squad,” was accused of glorifying domestic abuse when it came out in 2016. One of the main characters, Harley Quinn, was domestically abused by the Joker. She was made to do outrageous tasks like jump in a pool of acid to prove her love for him. When the movie came out they were seen as this great love story and fans went crazy over them. Fanfiction about them was all over the internet, and everyone dressed up like them for Halloween that year. But in the midst of obsessing over their “great love,” no one stopped and thought about how toxic their relationship was.
Coincidentally The Joker is in headlines again, but not for his role in Suicide Squad, but for a movie just about his madness. The Joker, which came out Oct. 4, features excessive violence, mass shooting and acts of terror, as well as a backstory on The Joker and why he is how he is. But the problem is, the film causes viewers to sympathize with the Joker because he’s “unloved.” But with mass shootings and hate crimes making headlines almost every week, it shouldn’t still be considered okay for Hollywood to make movies where viewers sympathize with unloved men who take out their unsolved aggression on innocent people.
In a 2013 report by the American Academy of Pediatrics, “violence in films has doubled since 1950, and gun-violence has more than tripled since 1985.” Nowadays, movies are only getting more violent, especially with movies centered on villains and their backstories. This is an issue because movies with high levels of violence can have negative effects on viewers, especially younger viewers.
When children are exposed to media that contain high levels of violence they can react in three different ways. Children may be less sensitive to the pain and suffering of others, children may be more fearful of the world around them, our children may be more likely to behave in aggressive or harmful ways towards others.
With enough violence in the news and on social media, is it really necessary to make movies containing the stuff we hear about every day? “Joker” shows the acts of terror that happen in our society but then glamorizes it, making the movie inappropriate and insensitive. Even though the movie and the characters are fictional, the acts committed by the Joker in the film are unfortunately not.
Hollywood needs to stop glamorizing violence in movies to make a profit, especially because these violent acts are happening to people all across America. Hollywood needs to also stop making movie-goers feeling bad for awful people. It is important to show character backstories, but it is not essential to create sympathy for them. With all of these awful things happening in our society right now, it does not need to be so glorified in fictional movies.
Savannah Rude // Staff Writer