Warner Bros. and Todd Phillips have found themselves in the middle of a pretty big controversy over the Joker movie. Family members of the 2012 Aurora shooting victims recently wrote a letter to the studio expressing concerns about Joaquin Phoenix's portrayal of Arthur Fleck. Some say the movie is too dangerous at this point in time and believe it will motivate others who are in a similar situation as the fictional Fleck to carry out acts of violence. However, Mike Senecal, the father of Katherine Senecal, who was a victim of the 2012 shooting, doesn't agree with the backlash.
Katherine Senecal was in the theater watching The Dark Knight Rises when James Holmes stormed in armed with an assault rifle and wearing full body armor. He shot at the moviegoers, killing 12 and injuring 70. Senecal survived that night, but later took her own life after struggling with mental issues. Her father Mike Senecal believes that Katherine still would have gone to see Joker if she were alive today and notes that he will be going to see it too.
Mike Senecal believes his daughter would have been able to "separate the movie from real life," and he believes "those who can't are part of the problem." Senecal went on to say that there were already violent people out in the world, well before Joker, and says that people who have a problem with the movie should just ignore it. Todd Phillips has been defending the choices he made in the movie for the last few weeks and he really doesn't understand where it's all coming from. There are plenty of other violent movies that have come out this year and they have not received the same type of criticism.
According to Todd Phillips, "The movie makes statements about a lack of love, childhood trauma, lack of compassion in the world. I think people can handle that message." Joaquin Phoenix also disagrees about all of the negative attention being thrown on Joker. "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," says Phoenix. With that being said, the Aurora theater will not be playing the movie in honor of the victims and their families.
Warner Bros. has also stood up for Joker, noting that it does not support gun violence. Whatever the case may be, there are a lot of people who believe that the movie will inspire others to act out violently and it may end up hurting it at the box office when all is said and done. When James Holmes stormed into the theater, he had dyed orange hair and it was erroneously reported that he referred to himself as the Joker. This could be where some of this criticism is coming from, and if it is, it's based on false reports. TMZ was the one to get the statement from Mike Senecal.