"Incel violence" warning issued over new Joker movie screenings

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2019/09/25/incel-violence-warning-iss.html

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I can feel the “Why would anybody associate Joker with violence and mass murder?” posts coming.


In the trailer, which is all we have to go on, I see the main character sitting by the hospital bed of a woman (a wife? sister? mother?) and also see him having positive romantic interactions with another woman. The character has a lot of problems, but it doesn’t look like misogyny is one of them.

Reading the articles, the connection drawn seems to be: a mentally ill person shot up a theatre in Aurora, CO in 2012 during a screening of a Batman movie (one that doesn’t feature The Joker); a specific incel expressed admiration for him based on the completely groundless assertion that women denying him sex was responsible for the mental illness; other incels picked up on this, adding the Aurora murderer to their hall of fame; therefore incels might incite violence during screenings of this movie (which doesn’t feature Batman as far as anyone knows). Pretty thin stuff to issue a specific warning over.


Another warning that I see coming is “The recent Joker deep fake video showing trump as the Joker is not trump.”

Many mil sec briefings of this nature are.


Good point, and I don’t want to claim anything too specific about a movie none of us has seen, but…

People are going to be bringing a lot of Joker baggage with them to this movie even if they make him a sensitive feminist.

Even if they make him a deeply progressive character, this is a Joker origin story, which means that the plot is only going to show why he “must” shed his former life to become something “more powerful”.

[speculative, of course]


If you think that’s thin, wait’ll you see what they’ll start an actual war over.


I doubt they’ll make him too progressive. He’ll be more of a Rupert Pupkin type fame hound who sees celebrity as the only escape from his dissatisfying life (I wonder if they’ll incorporate social media into this story showing him going viral enough to appear on the talk show).

Also, the troubled protagonist who “must” shed his former life to become something “more powerful” is a standard Hollywood trope. I guess The Joker brings some additional baggage, but I don’t recall him being a major heroic icon in the manosphere (at least not from the losers who pop their heads out of that cesspool into media awareness).


Ramon: Is this some sort of viral marketing? - Archer: What? No, I meant
Ramon: Or are you asking me, specifically, if I have a penis?
Archer: Uh, it’s more of a conversation starter.
Ramon: And here’s a conversation ender. Adios. -


He’ll be more of a Rupert Pupkin type

Definitely, and I’d argue that kind of character works when their “success” still makes you want to never, ever be like them.

If this film can do something like that, I’ll probably enjoy it. Not-so-much if they present “becoming a mass-murdering, abusive Joker sociopath” as some kind of inevitable or sympathetic journey.

I know, that’s why I won’t be surprised if they lean into it. Whatever and however they indicate what his former life “means” will be a big part of how people receive it, ultimately.


It has no specific intelligence

Some things need nothing more

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They won’t incorporate social media because it takes place in the 80s.


I can’t say one way or the other whether the film will inspire incel violence, but if it does incite those misogynist assholes to hurt people, I would expect that to happen away from the screening. I don’t really understand their irrational thinking, but if the movie appeals to them, then I would think that it and its audience would not be the targets of their rage. I understand the pre-emptive comparison to the shooting at The Dark Knight screening in Aurora, but I can’t find any evidence of that particular shooter being an incel (I didn’t look that hard though, so maybe I’m wrong). Hopefully, no violence will result from people seeing the film.

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Aren’t we at a point where we should be weary of mass shooters anywhere we go that is crowded, political, or culturally significant to any group in any way? I know I am!


Yeah, it sure seems like it. One non-incel killing people in a movie theater is a pretty weak basis to say there is a pattern of incels killing people in movie theaters.

Not that anyone would have a right to be terribly surprised if it does happen. But that’s just because an incel mass shooting in America can’t really take anyone by surprise and things that happen have to happen somewhere.


No one remembers ‘Rampage’ and ‘Rampage:Capital Punishment’ and ‘Rampage: President Down’ ??

Now there’s a few disturbing films.

But the linked article said,

The Army said it became aware of potential threats after receiving a bulletin from the FBI, but that it was unaware of any specific plots or suspects. The notice, which was marked “For Official Use Only,” was relayed purely as a precautionary measure, it said.

A separate memo, issued on Monday by senior officials in the U.S. Army’s criminal investigation division, stated that the Army had obtained “credible” intelligence from Texas law enforcement officials pertaining to “disturbing and very specific chatter” on the dark web “regarding the targeting of an unknown movie theater during the release.”

They may have issued the first memo based on what the FBI warned without knowing specifics, but it doesn’t seem like they thought up the potential for violence on nothing at all.

@beschizza It looks like the second memo was added to the article later, so I don’t think anyone should think you had ignored it or anything. (And thanks for writing stuff in the first place!)


The modern villain origin stories usually try to come up with some sort of at least minimally relatable reason for their anger. Of course for those who are already angry that is seen as a justification. All you have to do is add a few blog posts from the worst of the incel crowd, and suddenly the villain and his downfall is some sort of tragic hero. Turning Lucifer into Christ.

This makes a lot more sense to me. I was wondering if they were using a very specific notion of “specific”. Way to read the article!


And they should. Of course a character in movie needs motivation.

Dr Octopus and Vulture and Anakin Skywalker and Khan and ten thousand other villains have all had origins shown and reasons depicted for their later life choices.

I think the reasons people are feeling squicky about this one, is that people are thinking that this is a movie without a Batman, with no promise of a “downfall”, and I can’t think of a character that’s more associated (in his modern form) with unpredictable terrorizing and murder of crowds.

They could pull off a great movie, but I can also see why people are worried about taking that opportunity to do it right, and failing.


The problem is that once the 8chan assholes hear that people are concerned about alt-right violence at the movie, suddenly it becomes ‘lulz’ to make that happen.