With the upcoming release of the Joker movie, the U.S. Military has warned service members to be vigilant at screenings after the FBI uncovered potential threats of violence by incels, or involuntarily celibate men. The warning comes after the FBI uncovered what they believe to be credible threats on the dark web and on social media pertaining to extremist activity at theaters akin to the 2012 mass shooting in Aurora, Colorado.
According to a September 18th email, military personnel are advised to “identify two escape routes” when attending screenings of Joker and to utilize the “run, hide, fight” approach should a shooting take place.
“Run if you can. If you’re stuck, hide (also known as ‘sheltering in place’), and stay quiet. If a shooter finds you, fight with whatever you can,” the email read.
According to io9, senior officials in the U.S. Army released a separate memo on Monday alluding to “credible” intelligence from law enforcement in Texas, who discovered “disturbing and very specific chatter… regarding the targeting of an unknown movie theater during the release” on the dark web.
James Holmes, the suspect who opened fire in the crowded Aurora theater in 2012, is said to have been inspired by the Joker character and has been elevated to god-status in the incel community because of his actions. With this in mind, the Army memo released Monday also warned that incels in general “idolize the Joker character … admiring his depiction as a man who must pretend to be happy, but eventually fights back against bullies.”
The movie, starring Joaquin Phoenix as the title character, is said to portray the Joker in a “more realistic” fashion than in the comic books, attributing his transformation into a violent psychopath to his tough life and his inability to “get the girl,” a storyline many in the incel community seem to identify with.
However, an Air Force officer at Robbins Air Force Base in Georgia who prefers to remain anonymous told io9 that he doesn’t believe audiences have much to worry about, saying, “Frankly, beyond the email, I’ve heard little about it,” the officer said. “A few folks said they’d avoid opening night or passed it on to their family members for consideration, but I haven’t heard much else in conversation beyond that.”
The families of the victims of the Aurora shooting have been voicing their concerns over the release of Joker and asked Warner Bros., the company behind the film, to donate profits from ticket sales to charities that help support victims of gun violence. While Warner Bros. has not responded to the request, the movie will not be shown at the theater where the 2012 shooting took place.
Warner Bros. has, however, released a general statement hoping to allay concerns people might have about Joker.
“Gun violence in our society is a critical issue, and we extend our deepest sympathy to all victims and families impacted by these tragedies. 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.”
Joker will open October 4th.