Warner Bros. has today issued a statement in response to the letter penned by families of those killed in the 2012 mass shooting in Aurora, Colorado – a letter calling on the studio to advocate for gun safety in anticipation of Joker‘s theatrical release.
Rather than demanding outright censorship of the DC character study, Aurora families asked that Warner Bros. become “part of the growing chorus of corporate leaders who understand that they have a social responsibility to keep us all safe.” One such request was asking the studio not to donate to any political candidates in support of the NRA. It is important to note that the open letter fully supports Warner’s creative freedom, with no demands for Joker to be delayed or pulled from theaters.
Gun violence in our society is a critical issue, and we extend our deepest sympathy to all victims and families impacted by these tragedies. Our company has a long history of donating to victims of violence, including Aurora, and in recent weeks, our parent company joined other business leaders to call on policymakers to enact bi-partisan legislation to address this epidemic.
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The statement continues by stressing that Joker does not endorse violence in any way, shape, or form – a key complaint in many of the film’s reviews, with some critics expressing concern over the ways in which Arthur Fleck and his propensity for violence is depicted on the big screen.
At the same time, Warner Bros. believes that one of the functions of storytelling is to provoke difficult conversations around complex issues. 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.
Joker‘s theatrical release is still going ahead as planned without any delay or alterations; however, the Aurora theater in which 12 people were killed back in 2012 will not screen Todd Phillips’ film out of respect for the victims and their aforementioned families.