Brainiac On Banjo #054: Masks Don’t Kill. Joker Kills.

As we await all the violence and mayhem at this weekend’s debut of Joker, theaters all across this great nation are advertising: “If you’re a dejected, pissed off incel who couldn’t get laid on the night they cure AIDS and you’ve got a gun, we’ve got the movie for you!!!”

There are problems we create, and there are other problems we create by trying to fix them. The law of unintended consequences reigns supreme, but that never stops us from baiting the tiger-of-the-month.

In anticipation of the latest DC movie that has little to do with DC Comics, movie theaters are banning their patrons from arriving in costumes, masks and/or make-up. As we all know, the mere sight of a Batman villain in costume causes Batfans to go batshit and reach for their AK-47s.

Now we see the gigantic and fan-favorite Alamo Drafthouse theater chain going to great lengths to promote how they’ll have “additional” security at their sundry Joker screenings. Yeah, that’ll stop shit just fine. A couple thousand people in a dark theater who are physically incapable of exiting the room in an emergency are going to be saved by a freshman rent-a-cop working for minimum wage. Happens all the time.

Give me a break. These measures are so insipid they don’t even qualify as band-aids. They address neither the problem of gun violence nor the problem of wandering vicious miscreants who are looking for an excuse to blow away the masses. All this so-called solution will do is promote the fact that the theater owners think this movie is so violent they should follow their insurance company’s orders and deploy useless measures that actually promote the anticipation of violence… and that little trick does more to foster evil than it does to prevent it while at the same time making a truckload of money.

Is Joker too violent? For that matter, what is too violent? We survived the genius of Sam Peckinpah, Quentin Tarantino, Walter Hill, Martin Scorsese, and John Ford. Their movies were violent. They keep on grinding out Evil Dead movies and RoboCop remakes. Brian DePalma hasn’t died for anybody’s sins.

Here’s the rub. Joker isn’t just debuting in the United States of America. It’s opening all over this planet. But in the past, we’ve only seen the routine plethora of mass killings here in the United States of America. The exact same movie will be run in Japan and Great Britain and in Venice, where the movie won the best film award at their prestigious film festival. Hardly anybody was murdered during the voting.

Joker will be streaming, on cable, on network, on Blu-Ray and probably imbedded in breath mints. If you watch it at home, will you be hiring extra security and burning your Halloween costumes? For crying out loud, they made a feature-length cartoon out of the über-violent graphic novel The Killing Joke, and people have a problem with this movie? Really?

Warner Bros. may revoke my vendor number for saying this, but the solution for theater-owners is not to ban costumes and hire baby-heat. If, for some incomprehensible reason, you think this movie is too violent for your community, then do not screen it. Joker is expected to earn at least three times its negative cost in the United States alone, maybe more now that we’ve got this dangerously cynical promotion stunt going. Theaters are going to screen it, and if somebody shoots up the place, they’ll point to their uniformed 18-year old and say “But we paid good money for additional security! What else can we do?”

Why do I call this a dangerously cynical promotion stunt? Well, for one thing, Warner Bros. is playing right into it. They banned interviews from the red carpet premiere at the Chinese Theatre, the mecca for such events. How does this help? It gets a lot of publicity. I find it hard to believe that director Todd Philips and stars Joaquin Phoenix, Zazie Beetz, and Robert DeNiro would have said anything at to the press that would encourage an idiot to pick up his guns – well, to be fair, I’m not absolutely certain about Phoenix – and, besides, they’ll be doing plenty of interviews for the sundry media and can make those evil and untoward comments at any time.

No, Warners issued this ban because it helps promote “the movie so dangerous we wouldn’t even talk about it at our multi-million-dollar premiere party.”

The ever-cooperative LAPD is in for the ride. According to Variety, “The Los Angeles Police Department is aware of public concerns and the historical significance associated with the premiere of ‘Joker,’” said department spokesman Josh Rubenstein. “While there are no credible threats in the Los Angeles area, the department will maintain high visibility around theaters when it opens.”

By the way, kids, it’s R-rated! If you need to figure out how to get in, I suggest you study the first 15 minutes of South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut. That, too, was from Warner Bros.