Stop using troubled characters as an excuse to be a bad person


Niko Tavernise/Warner Bros. Pictures

Joaquin Phoenix is the title character in “Joker,” in theaters on Oct. 4.

Darius Melton, Opinion Editor

Be careful around movie theaters this week. According to an Instagram post by high school student Nikolai James Dixon Jr., the teen allegedly had plans to shoot up the AMC CLASSIC Wilmington 16 on Tuesday, Oct. 8. Dixon is now being held at the New Hanover County Detention Facility, but I would still be wary going forward.

This is terrifying, but it is not unprecedented. In recent weeks, the debut weekend of DC Comics’ “Joker” film has been full of worry as theaters across the nation receive mass shooting threats. Once again, the precedent does not stop here.

These mass shooting threats have been linked by many to the 2012 Aurora, Colorado shooting in which James Eagan Holmes unleashed fire upon a theater set to watch “The Dark Knight Rises.” While Holmes’ actions are not confirmed to be related to the film itself, the connection in controversies between the two Batman-adjacent films still affects the “Joker” film’s screening, or lack thereof, in Aurora.

This entire controversy is unfortunate. I have seen “Joker,” and I think it tells a fantastic story. It is well shot, it is well acted, and most importantly, it tells the story of someone who is clearly sick. Arthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix) is not someone that you are supposed to look up to. He is someone that the world has pushed to do something bad.

The keyword there is “bad.”

Much like with violent video games, a topic we recently covered here at The Seahawk, this is a problem with the viewer rather than what is being viewed. A lot of people online tend to view troubled characters such as the Joker, Rick Sanchez from Adult Swim’s “Rick and Morty” or BoJack from Netflix’s “BoJack Horseman” as relatable, and on a certain level, that is the goal.

However, these shows and films are not endorsing these characters’ actions, and that is what gets lost in the shuffle a lot of the time.

You are not supposed to watch “Rick and Morty” and think, “Oh boy! Time to become a depressed alcoholic and disappear from my daughter for decades!” Nor are you supposed to watch BoJack Horseman and think, “Wow, I really should go on drug binges and push away anyone that has ever loved me!”

Rick ruins Morty’s life. BoJack ruins his and everyone else’s lives. These are interesting stories because you want to see what they do next and possibly if they will get better, but whether or not they do get better in their respective stories, you have to keep that word “stories” in mind.

If you look at these “protagonists” and see someone to aspire to, let me give you a reality check: this is not a television show. You are not dark, brooding and interesting. You are dark, brooding and a nuisance.

You can do better. You are supposed to do better. Do not settle for Walter White when you can aim to be Bob Ross.