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Todd Phillips Made 'Joker' Because 'Woke Culture' Ruined Comedy (Okay, Buddy)

By Mike Redmond | Film | October 1, 2019 |

By Mike Redmond | Film | October 1, 2019 |


It’s almost impossible to read an article that doesn’t start off by lamenting that THE DISCOURSE around Joker is awful, and this piece is no different. Just goddammit. That said, director Todd Phillips is hell-bent on proving that he made a serious piece of “art” — unlike the Marvel movies you gay nerds like so much, NERDS — so he probably should’ve prepared himself for the fact that people regularly dissect and critique art because wE LiVe iN A soCIeTy.

He did not prepare for that. At all.

Last week, Joaquin Phoenix walked out of an interview after being asked if Joker might inspire real-world violence, Phillips went on tilt to the point that he literally said his “not a comic book movie” is “just a comic book movie” before yelling, “No fair, nobody gets mad about John Wick,” which led to Warner Bros. banning all press interviews during the Hollywood premiere. While that move might’ve granted a temporary reprieve — if you don’t count the numerous headlines about the unprecedented ban — Vanity Fair just dropped its cover story on Phoenix that includes a choice quote from Phillips that really isn’t helping.

Phillips, who directed the comedies Old School and the Hangover series, pitched the idea of a Joker movie to Warner Bros. as a kind of anti-superhero film, with practically no CGI effects or cartoonish plots, but instead a dark realism drained of heroics. Phillips had found it increasingly difficult, he says, to make comedies in the new “woke” Hollywood, and his brand of irreverent bro humor has lost favor.

“Go try to be funny nowadays with this woke culture,” he says. “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.”

Just so we’re all clear, Todd Phillips is a white guy who didn’t get what he wanted, so he created a work of violence instead?

Awesome. Great. Perfect messaging, everybody, good job.

Phillips’ remarks arrive directly on the heels of Bill Maher, another old white guy, bitching to The New York Times about how millennials are killing comedy or whatever, which is just not happening. If you haven’t read “The ‘Cancel Culture’ Con” by Osita Nwanevu, do that as soon as possible because it perfectly spells out how comedy is fine. Which should be abundantly clear every time you turn on Netflix and see 800 stand-up specials called, like, “Tweet This, Sweetheart!” But to use a term that Dave Chappelle likes to apply to Louis CK’s victims, how brittle do you have to be that you can’t handle a few words on the internet? Todd Phillips just directed a tentpole Oscar contender for a major movie studio, and he’s still out here going, “Boo hoo, you can’t make The Hangover with these f*cking kids these days.” Yeah, because you already made THREE of them, you greedy hack.

On a more interesting note, Joker has already spawned a rabid and terrifying online fanbase who hasn’t seen the movie yet, but have already made themselves the goddamn BernieBros of Film Twitter. You know how his crazed stans make you never want to vote for Bernie? That’s what these f*ckers are doing for Joker. Also, some of them are making shitposts on 4chan about shooting up movie theaters because the internet was a mistake.

A good chunk of these Joker goons are disgruntled DC fans who are tired of seeing Marvel wipe the floor with their movies, so I’m sure they’re going to love the fact that the Joker concept was just an artifice for Phillips to make a Scorsese fan-film. You see, Phillips and more importantly Phoenix, who has an “allergy” to “frivolous, meaningless kids’ stuff,” wanted to make a real film like they used to in the ’70s because everything about this whole movie wasn’t filled with enough white guy cliches.

In pitching the movie to Phoenix, Phillips told him he needed to think of the film as a heist movie.

“What are you talking about?” Phoenix asked, confused. “There’s barely any action in it.”

Phillips cracked, “We’re gonna take $55 million from Warner Bros. and do whatever the hell we want.”

Call me old fashioned, but if you’re openly bragging about tricking a movie studio into giving you $55 million, I’m going to have a hard time believing that “woke culture” ruined your life. But at least you’re not inspiring gun-crazy nutjobs this time.

Oh wait.

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Mike is a Staff Contributor living in Pennsyltucky. You can follow him on Twitter.

Header Image Source: Getty