The Joker movie controversy is made up. We did some real journalism and visited 16 cinemas all across Australia to gauge people’s reaction over the opening weekend.

If you haven’t been living under a rock for the past month I’m sure you would have heard about how grossly toxic and dangerous the new Joker film. Many have already vowed to never see it, while some are claiming to be among those to walk out of the theatres. Cinemas have even banned people from cosplaying as the Joker because they bought into the fear mongering. But this outrage seems manufactured, there’s not a single petition online asking cinemas to ban the movie.

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Of course we were curious to see what all the fuss was about so we here at Sausage Roll decided to have a field day and we all went to see Joker on opening day. This is the mainstream media’s summary of the plot: “An alienated white guy whose failure to be funny drives him into a vengeful rage.” This is just plain wrong. Also, why does the Joker’s race matter at all to the plot? It doesn’t. This is the first major red flag for media bias.

The second red flag was how critics already had a preconceived notion of Joker’s director, Todd Phillips. Well after the release of his comedy hits The Hangover, Old School and even War Dogs, critics started slamming his films by calling them problematic, sexist and blaming the director for his toxic masculinity. So, with a fire already lit under his feet, Todd Phillips was pressed in a Vanity Fair interview where he was asked why he’s making a serious film and not a comedy.

Joaquin Phoenix & Todd Phillips
Joker controversy is made up: Phoenix and Phillips.

“Go try to be funny nowadays with this woke culture,” he told Vanity Fair. “There were articles written about why comedies don’t work anymore—I’ll tell you why, because all the fucking funny guys are like, ‘Fuck this shit, 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 fuck 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.”

Again, it was his use of the term “woke culture” that pinned yet another target on his back. According to some mainstream entertainment websites, the use of that word is an act of aggression, a racist slur if you will, and a sign of alt-right activism–if you are not a person of colour. In retaliation critics doubled down on the toxic masculinity criticism going as far to suggest that this film will almost definitely inspire other lonely white men to commit similar crimes.

The Joker controversy in a nutshell

The controversy started when Stephanie Zacharek, a critic for Time magazine, wrote, “In America, there’s a mass shooting or attempted act of violence by a guy like Arthur practically every other week. And yet we’re supposed to feel some sympathy for Arthur, the troubled lamb; he just hasn’t had enough love.”

Aurora gun rally
Joker controversy is made up: Activists politicise a tragedy.

This lead survivors and family members of the Aurora shooting to write a demanding letter to Warner Brothers. Those demands included:

  • End political contributions to candidates who take money from the NRA and vote against gun reform. These lawmakers are literally putting your customers and employees in danger.
  • Use your political clout and leverage in Congress to actively lobby for gun reform. Keeping everyone safe should be a top corporate priority for Warner Brothers.
  • Help fund survivor funds and gun violence intervention programs to help survivors of gun violence and to reduce every-day gun violence in the communities you serve.

Clearly this didn’t go down to well as many Americans are divided on the issue of the 2nd Amendment. And Warner Brothers didn’t follow through on the demands. Outrage ensued and many partisan media outlets started smearing the film by spreading misinformation.

Joker movie glorifies murder and inspires incels, media alleges

Headlines of outrage and fear started spreading like wildfire. “This movie WILL encourage lonely white men to kill people,” became the global message for Phillips’ new movie. This lead many cinemas all across the world to ban people from cosplaying as their favourite villain because, according the mainstream media, “only lonely incels play dress up, and they are dangerous.” But cosplaying is a time honoured tradition among comic book fans, anyone that’s ever been to Comic Con knows that. Fans all around the world like to celebrate the premiere of their favourite comic book movie by showing up in cosplay.

From there it got even worse. The media started creating headlines from troll posts found on random image boards, calling them “credible threats.” Now cinemas were cancelling screenings and some even considering pulling the film all together. People are now warned that they are putting their own lives at risks for simply going to see Joker at the cinemas.

People walk out of Joker all over the world

A few days later more slanderous Joker headlines started to surface. Allegedly people were so offended by Joker that they staged a walk out, which allegedly hundreds of people participated in. But that’s not the case at all, a few disgruntled people claim they almost walked out of the movie. Those who actually claimed to have walked out got fundamental plot details wrong and just echoed the same debunked talking points that slanderous media had been pushing out.

The Daily Mail claim that someone on Twitter wrote: “Literally just walked out of a screening of Joker. Way too terrifying to be there with all this going on the way the movie glamorises gun violence and mental health issues.” However, no results show when searching for the Tweet.

The Daily Mail then goes onto fabricate another comment, combining two and making it seem like the movie goer was compelled to walk out, when in fact he loved the movie: “If I didn’t see Joker with a friend I probably would’ve walked out of the theater thinking someone should tell Trump to shut up… White dude next to me walked out of Joker in the last few minutes of the movie had me a little shook not gonna lie…”

The first part of the Tweet was from a user responding to the ‘no singles’ rule that was posted at the kiosk at AMC theatres. AMC later responded saying that they did not put up those signs and that it wasn’t their policy.

That’s not to say that walk outs didn’t happen, but if they did it would have been extremely rare. A lot of people have already made up their minds about the film from reading biased and slanderous articles about the film’s intentions. However, you would assume that those people wouldn’t waste their money on a film they know they are going to walk out on, this leads us to believe that a lot of the “walk out” comments are unsubstantiated.

Joker’s big twist ending debunks unfounded controversy

Warning: this section contains spoilers that are necessary to debunk the Joker controversy. Feel free to skip ahead to the next header to avoid spoilers.

Joker laughing/crying on bus
Joker controversy made up: film does not glorify murder/romanticise mental illness

Joker does not in anyway glorify gun violence, mental health issues or murder. It doesn’t even ask you to empathise with the Joker, people who actually watched the movie from beginning to end would know this. The biggest reveal comes towards the end of the movie, he’s not a good guy, he’s not just mentally ill, he is criminally insane.

The movie strongly suggests the scenes where we see Arthur get bullied or harassed are merely his own delusions. All the Joker’s insecurities are manifesting as hallucinations. He loves to play the victim and often imagines his own suffering to justify his blood lust. It’s genius writing, and it is what makes this the most terrifying Joker ever.

Daily Mail fake comments
Joker controversy made up: Daily Mail fabricates walk out comments.

Right at the very end the Joker realises that he has no empathy, that he is a psychopath. His medication was keeping him grounded. When he stopped taking it he came to, learned who he was, and that he was completely insane and fully embraced it. “I used to think my life was a tragedy, now I know it is a fucking comedy.”

Then there’s the controversy over people thinking that Phillips is blaming the mother for Arthur’s mental illness. But again, for those of us who bothered to watch the movie to the end, we know that the sickness was hereditary; his mother had it too, as is evident with her delusions of a relationship with Thomas Wayne.

So, in a nutshell, all the bullying and beatings the Joker received were inconsequential to his murderous outrage. He was bat shit crazy from the day he was conceived. His hallucinations justified his killings at the start, but in the end he had the revelation that he didn’t need to justify anything; he could do whatever he wanted, guilt free, and he would enjoy it. This is made clear by the final scene in the movie.

Best damn Joker and best damn Joker movie ever.

10 out of 10 people love the new Joker movie

Regardless, we wanted to see for ourselves if the outrage media is scaring people from seeing the movie or causing walk outs. So three Sausage Roll staff members living in different states across Australia all visited 9 cinemas over the opening weekend. Mickey visited 6 cinemas in and around the Brisbane, CBD, in Queensland. Erina visited 6 cinemas in and around Melbourne, Victoria. I visited 5 cinemas in Sydney, Australia.

Our plan was to go to three different cinemas over two days. We’d catch the afternoon screening, the 4 o’clock screening, and finally the 8 o’clock screening. We wanted to find out if this Joker walk out event was as big as the media was making it out to be. You can find a list of all the cinemas we visited below.

Queensland

  • Saturday:
    Event Cinemas – Indooroopilly @ 10:30AM,
    Hoyts Cinemas – Stafford @ 3:40PM,
    Cineplex Cinemas – South Bank @ 6:40PM
  • Sunday:
    Cineplex Cinemas – Redbank @ 10:00AM,
    Event Cinemas – Springfield @ 1:40PM,
    Limelight Cinemas – Ipswich @ 4:30PM

Victoria

  • Saturday:
    The Kino – Melbourne @ 11:00AM,
    Hoyts Cinemas – Melbourne @ 3:30pm,
    Village Cinemas – Southbank @ 6:30pm
  • Sunday:
    Cinema Nova – Carlton @ 10:30AM
    Moonlight Cinema – Melbourne @ 1:40PM

New South Wales

  • Saturday:
    Dendy Cinema – Newtown @ 11:00AM
    Event Cinemas – George Street, Sydney @ 2:30PM
    Hoyts Cinemas – Broadway, Sydney @ 7:30PM
  • Sunday:
    Ritz Cinema – Sydney @ 10:30PM
    Hayden Orpheum Picture Palace – Cremorne @ 3:30PM

At each cinema we surveyed 10 people walking out of the cinema. We showed them our MEAA cards, introduced ourselves and then asked 5 very simple questions.

The first question was, “what were your expectations going in,” to which the vast majority answered, “none.” They had not been following the film’s controversy or even heard about it, and for those who did just laughed.

Our next question was, “did the film disappoint, meet or exceed your expectations,” to which every single person surveyed answered ‘exceeded’.

The third question we asked, “were you upset or offended by any particular scene in the film?” While no-one said they were offended or upset by the film, one person surveyed explained he felt the Joker himself to be a bit awkward. “It was strange seeing the Joker as a victim,” he explained.

Our fourth question: “was anyone around you visibly upset or offended by the film?” There was no walk out. No one left their seats during these screenings, people seemed to be thoroughly enjoying themselves. One person likened the reaction of other movie goers to someone on a roller-coaster; a lot of Ooohs and Aaahs came from the viewers through some of the more intense scenes.

Our final question was, “what do you score the film out of a 10?” 112 people answered 10, 30 people answered 9, 10 people answered 8, and 8 people answered 7.

Joker controversy is made up: there’s no walk out, cinemas packed.

160 people surveyed in 16 cinemas across three states in Australia and 10 out of 10 people loved the new Joker movie. In conclusion it is evident that the controversy is being exaggerated by the media; people aren’t scared to go see the movie, they aren’t walking out, and they certainly aren’t offended by it. The Joker controversy is made up. This is also backed by international box office numbers. Joker is smashing box office records and has grossed USD$97,100,000 on opening day.

If you are on the fence about seeing the Todd Phillips’ Joker movie you can read our spoiler-free review to help you decide. Hopefully you will enjoy it as much as we did.