Director of the recent comic book smash hit, Joker, has had to defend his movie a lot since it's release due to the depiction of violence and mental health issues and how the movie combines the two. The controversy has surrounded Joker even before its release in theaters, with most of it centered on how the events of the movie might influence impressionable audiences, with Phillips recently dismissing these criticisms as 'noise' from what he refers to as 'far left' critics.

Well, Todd Phillips has now decided to clarify these comments, as well as his stance on the depiction of certain mental health issues as a contributing factor of violence and something that should not be ignored or denied.

"We all get up in arms about climate change deniers, right? We all go, 'How can you deny this?' But to me it's the same thing. Do we want to pretend that we're not failing as a human experiment? Do we want to pretend that these people don't exist?"

Phillips then followed this up by questioning the disadvantages of depicting such people in movies, and thus making audiences more aware of the issue.

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"Isn't that a good thing?"

Bringing his comments back to the controversy, Phillips stated his surprise at critics taking issue with his portrayal of such topics.

"I was surprised at that, becoming a tool to be used against the movie when it's like, isn't that what's great about being filmmakers - that we are able to explore these things in a safe environment? Representation has never equalled endorsement."

Many feared that Joker might inspire violence, a worry that Phillips clearly does not share at all, reasoning that one of the purposes of movies and art is to be able to depict and discuss controversial and potentially dangerous subjects from a place of safety.

Despite the ongoing debate, Joker has proved to be incredibly successful, with the movie earning over $1 billion at the global box office as well as winning several awards, including two Golden Globes. If that was not enough, Joker is now up for 11 Academy Awards.

Joker follows failed comedian Arthur Fleck as he seeks connection while walking the streets of Gotham City. Arthur wears two masks -- the one he paints for his day job as a clown, and the guise he projects in a futile attempt to feel like he's part of the world around him. Isolated, bullied and disregarded by society, Fleck begins a slow descent into madness as he transforms into the criminal mastermind known as the Joker.

The movie is directed by Todd Phillips, and stars Joaquin Phoenix, Robert De Niro, Zazie Beetz, Bill Camp, Frances Conroy, Brett Cullen, Glenn Fleshler, Douglas Hodge, Marc Maron, Josh Pais and Shea Whigham. This comes to us from Variety.

Jon Fuge at Movieweb
Jon Fuge