Why People Are Upset With ‘Joker’

Joker is hands-down one of the most talked-about movies of the year — and not necessarily in a good way.

While many people have praised the performances, the aesthetic, and the plot itself, others are upset with the portrayal of mental illness, the handling of violence, and more. Here’s a full list of reasons why people are mad at the new Warner Bros. film.

Joaquin Phoenix in Joker
Joaquin Phoenix in Joker | Niko Tavernise/Warner Bros. Pictures

A ‘Joker’ recap

Based on the Batman archrival, the film tells the story of how the Joker came to be, detailing his journey from a children’s entertainer and failed stand-up comic to a villain. 

He’s introduced as a happy man who simply wants to “bring laughter and joy to the world” — a feat he tries to accomplish as a party clown and a comedian.

But the mentally ill loner gradually breaks down due to bullying, eventually becoming a mass murderer who incites violence against the innocent. 

‘Joker’ faced backlash for its violence

Many people criticized the R-rated film for its depiction of violence, with some expressing concern over potential copycat crimes. 

Some pointed to the man who conducted a mass shooting at the 2012 screening of The Dark Knight Rises in Aurora, Colorado. At the time, there were rumors that the man had dressed up and referred to himself as the Joker. However, those rumors have since been debunked.

Joker Joaquin Phoenix
‘Joker’ Joaquin Phoenix | Photo by Gotham/GC Images

In response, Warner Bros. released a statement that stood by the film.

“Warner Bros. believes that one of the functions of storytelling is to provoke difficult conversations around complex issues,” the statement said in part. “Make no mistake: neither the fictional character Joker, nor the film, is an endorsement of real-world violence of any kind. It is not the intention of the film, the filmmakers or the studio to hold this character up as a hero.”

The portrayal of mental illness is facing criticism, too

Some people said the film could stigmatize mental illness, pointing out the way the main character became bad after being mistreated by people.

“The portrayal of mental illness as a ticking bomb to violence is what I disliked the most about #JokerMovie #Joker. People who are mentally ill are disenfranchised and forgotten yet they rarely turn to violence to find themselves,” one tweet read.

Another tweet said, “I’m not usually one to focus on political nonsense in movies but Joker vocally screams about political correctness, being mentally ill and treated bad by society, all before doing something terrible. Maybe I’m overthinking but it just didn’t sit right with me.”

Joaquin Phoenix in 'Joker'
Joaquin Phoenix in ‘Joker’ Courtesy of TIFF

But others wrote online that the film offered a deeper look into the issues that mentally ill people face, even saying it was a call-to-action.

“For us mentally ill people, I HIGHLY recommend, ‘#Joker.’ It’s so much deeper than some who don’t suffer debilitating PTSD and mental illness may not fully understand. This film got to me in a way no other film has ever gotten to me. You’ll see when you see it. #JoaquinPhoenix,” another person tweeted.

A second person added, “Just watch #Joker. Amazing film, Phoenix portrayal of a mentally ill man was scarily good. This house is still debating the ending. Don’t think any of us is wrong.”

Others thought the film sucked in general

Other people took to social media to say that the slow-burning film was overall disappointing.

“Joker was boring,” tweeted one man.

Another person echoed that comment, writing, “Joker is TRASH. I fell asleep the first 30 minutes, it’s so boring.”

Slate added that fans could even skip the movie, but not because of the controversy. The outlet reported, “Don’t skip Joker over fears of violence. Skip it because it’s dull..”

You decide whether it’s worth watching. But if you want to see it, it’s in theaters now.