OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — The highly anticipated film The Joker starts showing today, and people in Omaha can start to see heightened security at local movie theaters.
Authorities, like the U.S. Military and police nationwide, call this film a potential threat, which could inspire some to act violently.
The Joker character depicts a mentally unstable man who acts out with violence. The character carries social traits some real life mass shooters share.
Some worry this movie can provoke mentally ill people to act violently in a movie theater, or anywhere else. These concerns stem from the Aurora, Colorado movie theater shooting. James Holmes, the shooter, killed 12 people in the midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises in 2012.
Some in Omaha worry that the movie shouldn't be watched by people susceptible to act in violent ways.
"If they have a mental illness they probably shouldn't see a movie like that. Maybe the people around them should keep them from seeing a movie like that," says Zach Murphy, someone who will go see the Joker movie.
Leading up to the movie premier, an email circulated by the HQ Army Materiel Command, G-3 says some "posts on social media have made reference to involuntary celibate (“incel”) extremists replicating the 2012 theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado, at screenings of the Joker movie at nationwide theaters." They added, "Incels are individuals who express frustration from perceived disadvantages to starting intimate relationships. Incel extremists idolize violent individuals like the Aurora movie theater shooter. They also idolize the Joker character..."
Joaquin Phoenix, who plays the Joker, says the movie has no responsibility for how it may provoke people.
"If you have somebody that has that level of emotional disturbance, then I think that they can find fuel anywhere," Phoenix says.
Warner Brothers released a statement that said, "Our company has a long history of donating to victims of violence, including Aurora, and in recent weeks, our parent company joined other business leaders to call on policymakers to enact bi-partisan legislation to address this epidemic. At the same time, Warner Bros. believes that one of the functions of storytelling is to provoke difficult conversations around complex issues. Make no mistake: neither the fictional character Joker, nor the film, is an endorsement of real-world violence of any kind. It is not the intention of the film, the filmmakers or the studio to hold this character up as a hero."
Police urge people who plan to see the movie to be aware of their surroundings and identify exits when entering the theater.