Ahead of the release of Joker, some family members of Aurora, Colorado shooting victims are concerned.
In a letter to Warner Bros., five family members of victims of the 2012 shooting, which left 12 people dead and 70 injured during a screening of The Dark Knight Rises, say that "when we learned that Warner Bros. was releasing a movie called Joker that presents the character as a protagonist with a sympathetic origin story, it gave us pause," Variety and The Hollywood Reporter report.
Among those who signed the letter are Sandy and Lonnie Phillips, whose 24-year-old daughter was killed in the shooting. In an interview with the Reporter, Sandy Phillips called Joker a "slap in the face," fearing that someone who is "on the edge, who is wanting to be a mass shooter, may be encouraged by this movie. And that terrifies me."
Though Joker has received positive reviews and picked up Oscar buzz, some critics have expressed similar fears over the film, which depicts its lead as an isolated, troubled individual who perpetrates violence. Vanity Fair's Richard Lawson wrote in his review that Joker "may be irresponsible propaganda for the very men it pathologizes," while Slashfilm's Peter Sciretta tweeted it "could potentially be dangerous for the wrong person to watch."
The letter to Warner Bros. doesn't call for the film to be pulled but instead urges the studio to "use your massive platform and influence to join us in our fight to build safer communities with fewer guns," including by lobbying for gun reform in Congress. "We are calling on you to be a part of the growing chorus of corporate leaders who understand that they have a social responsibility to keep us all safe," it reads. Read the full letter at Variety.