It’s funny, I just had a very lengthy conversation with a friend about this very thing last night.
To start, I do NOT think that those who make this movie should be held liable in any civil or criminal court if someone commits horrendous acts inspired by the film. The only reason I would change my mind on that is if the movie blatantly calls for those acts; It’s pretty safe to assume it will not.
Conversely, I do think it would be unwise to say that the movie has no impact on society or those who may be inspired to emulate the titular character. I had my opinions about this before the media ran with it, and before the confirmed threats were announced; I wasn’t swayed by them, as I’m one to be very critical of the media’s bias and agenda. That said, I think there may be some merit to the concern. It hasn’t been a secret that the movie will portray the elite of Gotham, the Wayne’s in particular, as “Trumpian.” It is equally no secret how popular it is to hate Trump, capitalism, etc today. “Stick it to the man!” and “F*** the system!” right? Even if the movie is clear that the audience shouldn’t sympathize with the acts of the Joker, you can’t convince me that there won’t be people who sympathize with his motivations, or the results.
Many movies are made where the protagonist is shown in a way that encourages the audience to support or side with them, even when they are criminals. You betcha I wanted to steal cars like Memphis Raines, steal gold like Charlie Croker, and many others after watching them on the big screen. This isn’t inherently bad, but if a movie about the Joker does the same, it’s the Joker; arguably the most evil character in fiction. Glorifying him isn’t good idea, and if there isn’t an antithesis to him in the film because the usual suspects for that are painted in bad light…
This by no means is me saying that everyone who hates x,y,z are going to copy the Joker and do horrible things. I strongly believe people are responsible for their own actions, and many of us have the capacity to separate fiction from reality (I never emulated Raines or Croker). However, we won’t get any closer to reducing the number of mass shootings or mass murders without really studying what influences the perpetrators, and those prone to these actions like their “heroes” just as much as we do.
I think seeing the movie and how the Joker is presented will sway this discussion more. It may be very clear -as some have already pointed out -that the Joker is not someone to cheer for in the film. But my initial thought about making a movie where the Joker is the protagonist is that it is risky. As someone else said, it can be fascinating to explore what leads a man to become this monster, but if it is done in a way to garner sympathy to his actions or motivations then i’m not for it.
You want to see the movie? Go see it. Hopefully it’s fantastic. You don’t want to see the movie? Power to you. Ether way, I think we’ll all be talking about this movie for a long time to come.