Photo Credit: Quentin Rey
Recently, it has been floating around various news sites and sources that the US Army and other law enforcement authorities such as the FBI and the LAPD have released statements warning the general population to be wary of potential gunmen at screenings of the movie Joker, to be released on October 4th, 2019. The aforementioned gunmen belong to a fringe group of delusional and disillusioned young men who refer to themselves as “involuntary celibates” or “incels”, in the case that you haven’t spent more than 5 minutes on the internet and didn’t know that. The controversy surrounding Joker is that the titular clown, played by Joaquin Phoenix, may be considered a sort of champion to the incel community as they may identify with a single, awkward, and lonely man who violently lashes out against the world in response to the cruelties that society and life has repeatedly subjected him to. We do, indeed, live in a society.
As a disclaimer, I am not an incel myself nor am I associated with the incel community in any way. While I am going to elaborate my thoughts on incels and the senseless violence that they perpetrate on innocent people, it can be boiled down to the immortal words of Larry David, “I couldn’t get any dates, either, you don’t see me taking it out on anybody.” I also do not celebrate or condone any of the recent gun violence caused by incels or otherwise. As a second disclaimer, I do not claim to be an authority on anything. This article is just some jackoff’s thoughts and opinions. Got it? Good, let’s continue.
On the surface, it would be easy to think that incels believe the world owes them sex, owes them good looks and a rockin’ bod, owes them unyielding respect from women and peers alike, and other entitled nonsense. While I wholeheartedly believe that incels are extremely entitled people, I also believe that the incel mindset is deeply rooted in insecurity. A short incel believes women only like tall men, a poor incel believes women are “money-grubbing whores”, the incel who is insecure about his facial structures believes women are helplessly attracted to Rob Lowe, an incel into fitness thinks he has to attain Zac Efron’s shredded abs before women will even look at him; you get the idea. It is simple masculine insecurities projected on to society and especially on to women. I don’t even place all the blame on the incels; they are usually impressionable young dudes who get trapped into online echo chambers that enable and exacerbate their anger when instead they should be focusing on improving other facets of their life and improving their confidence in doing so. They may just not have the tools to do that. I know this as someone who has dealt with insecurities, myself, as I am sure most of us have. It is a sad trap that I legitimately hope the young men in it can pull themselves out of.
What does this have to do with a fictional clown, you ask? Incels are typically young men who have an interest in things like comics and video games, which is NOT the issue. Lots of people are into that, both are multi-billion-dollar industries that are typically consumed by healthy, stable people. I think the problem stems from the incel community consistently engaging in separating fiction from reality, whether that be with the warped ideas on attraction and beauty or fictional violence against women or the “Chads” (a good looking, popular male) that they despise in the form of forum fantasies and manic manifestos. The concern is that an incel seasoned in delusion will take inspiration from Jack White, or Arthur Fleck if you’re a pleb, and real-life 2012 theatre murderer James Holmes and open fire on people during the screenings. In fact, the scare is so great that some theatres have outright banned moviegoers from wearing masks and costumes to the movie.
While incel-caused violence is undoubtedly escalating in North America, I don’t think that this is a movie that they will strike at. Put yourself in the shoes of an incel for a moment: you’re a guy in between the ages of 18 – 30, single, somewhat of a loner, you spend too much time online and in front of the TV, probably don’t have a whole lot going on in life and, I don’t want to say it – but c’mon – let’s be real, you’re a white guy. You want revenge on the world because absolutely none of the bad things happening to you are even a smidge of your fault and couldn’t be improved on with just a little bit of effort. No, you must make the Chads and the Staceys (a placeholder name for the women who incels project aggression onto, usually also portrayed as attractive, vapid, and popular) who have been so cruel to you pay. With that in mind, why shoot up Joker? Why shoot up the movie that many critics claim is one of the few pieces of media that actually gets you, man? If the Joker is the champion of the incels, why shoot up a theatre room that is likely filled with your comrades? At the very least, why take out your misogynistic rage out on a room filled with far more men than women? None of this adds up. However, there is a movie, a DC movie, coming out soon in which an incel shooting would make sense in the sad, warped way that anything makes sense to an incel.
A few months ago, it was announced that Batman would be getting yet another reboot (I wonder what happens to Bruce’s parents this time) starring none other than Robert Pattinson, the “Twilight Guy”. The movie is scheduled for release in 2021, and guess who the fuck Batman will be fighting this time around? That’s right – Mr. “Gamers Rise Up”, himself, The Joker (though not the same Joker from the 2019 movie). Put yourself back in the shoes of our fictitious incel for another gross moment. As you are somewhere in your 20s, you likely grew up rolling your eyes at the Twilight movies and watched so many girls and young women fawn over the scrawny Pattinson and his portrayal of the bedazzled vampire, Edward Cullen, back in the 2008/2009s. Every high school in the US and Canada was littered with posters, notebooks, t-shirts, and oh, Lord, was there ever fanfiction. The series even inspired a short-lived vampire-themed fashion and musical fad in youth culture. Like it or not, the Twilight series was an unstoppable cultural force at the time driven mainly by females. A decade later, you see the same effeminate vampire that all the normie girls adored playing Bruce Wayne: a mega-rich, handsome, ripped playboy who breaks all the rules but still gets the girls and is praised as the hero. Sounds a little bit like a “Chad”, no? It’s a Chadception of Robert “Chad” Pattinson playing Chad Wayne, who will likely kick the snot out of the downtrodden, incel underdog. A straight-on Batman movie starring Robert Pattinson is also going to attract more normies, more casual moviegoers, and most notably more women to the theatres than the Todd Phillips-directed Joker fanfare released this year will. The Stacey’s of your high schools who grew up as Twilight fangirls are now young women with stable careers, a healthy social life, and, Hell, maybe even a loving family of their own. Stacey has all of that and you don’t, doesn’t that just make you see red? Well, they’re the ones who might check out a Batman movie if Rob Pattinson is it, or tag along with their Chad husband (who hasn’t even read a real Batman comic!).
At the end of the day, I hope that the hype surrounding these shootings is wrong and that everyone who sees the movie is safe and enjoys it. I also hope that I am wrong about the upcoming Batman movie in 2021, as well. The cynic in me believes that the incel-shooting hype is a sick publicity stunt cooked up by some marketing boardroom attempting to shove down the tired trope of what an edgy character the Joker is. A person must be vigilant when going out to a movie with the Joker in it, but I believe that the movie is going to be coming out two years from now.