If you're wondering what drove comedy movie director Todd Phillips to helming a dark project like Joker, you can blame "woke culture." In a new Vanity Fair story covering the movie and star Joaquin Phoenix, Phillips is quoted on what led to his transition from helming the kinds of lighter movies he was previously known for into directing one of the most controversial movies of recent years. Apparently, after noticing one comedian after another coming under heavy fire for jokes deemed to now be offensive by "cancel culture," Phillips was left feeling like comedy had been changed for the worst. Here's how the filmmaker describes his thought process on what led him to the path of Joker.
"Go try to be funny nowadays with this woke culture. There were articles written about why comedies don't work anymore-I'll tell you why, because all the f*cking funny guys are like, 'F*ck this sh*t, because I don't want to offend you.' It's hard to argue with 30 million people on Twitter. You just can't do it, right? So you just go, 'I'm out.' I'm out, and you know what? With all my comedies-I think that what comedies in general all have in common-is they're irreverent. So I go, 'How do I do something irreverent, but f*ck comedy? Oh I know, let's take the comic book movie universe and turn it on its head with this.' And so that's really where that came from."
Prior to Joker, Todd Phillips was certainly best known as a comedy movie director. In the early 2000's, he had helmed such comedy cult classics as Road Trip, Old School, and Starsky & Hutch. Phillips had also worked on the story for the controversial Sacha Baron Cohen comedy Borat, which earned him an Academy Award nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay. Perhaps his best known work was for the movies in the Hangover trilogy, beginning with the original in 2011 and concluding with The Hangover 3 in 2013. Altogether, the three movies have grossed over $1.4 billion, but given Phillips' recent comments on the genre, it's not looking like we'll be seeing The Hangover 4 going into production anytime soon.
Joker has been in the hot seat in recent weeks because of its violent content. Because there is concern the movie will inspire copycat killers to carry out mass shootings at showings of Joker, the U.S. military has even warned its troops to be on the lookout for shooters in movie theaters this weekend. Various critics and social media users have also expressed their displeasure in seeing a movie made about a white man's descent into madness, feeling it's too reminiscent of real-life mass shootings and other acts of violence which have been plaguing headlines in recent years. Because of the rumor that the Aurora massacre shooter was dressed as the Joker when he carried out his shooting spree in 2012, the theater where it took place is refusing to show the new Joker movie. Other theater chains are banning masks and costumes from Joker showings as well.
For his part, Phillips is standing by the content of the movie. Because Joker is just one of many incredibly violent movies to come out just this year, the director seems to feel that singling out his movie is unfair. While stressing that the movie follows a fictional character who's been around for 80 years and lives in a fictional world, Phillips also says he can't understand why something like John Wick 3 gets a pass. "He's a white male who kills 300 people and everybody's laughing and hooting and hollering. Why does this movie get held to different standards? It honestly doesn't make sense to me," Phillips said of the two movies.
In any case, Joker will premiere in theaters on Oct. 4. Not everyone is thrilled about its release, but the movie is still expected to do very well. If anything, its controversy is only creating more awareness about the release. Phillips' words come to us from Vanity Fair.