Movies

‘Joker’ Director Todd Phillips Said He Quit Making Comedies Because Of ‘Woke Culture’

Joker, the gritty stand-alone Batman spin-off due in theaters Friday, has earned acclaim — including the top award at a prestigious film festival — as well as condemnation, with some, including the families of Aurora massacre victims, fearing its depiction of an unhinged, Travis Bickle-esque loner may lead to violence. And through it all, its director, Todd Phillips, has not kept silent. He’s fought back, blaming the “far left” for the “outrage” and wondering out loud why John Wick movies, basically non-realistic live-action cartoons, didn’t encourage similar ire.

Now he’s taking his gripes next level. In a new Vanity Fair profile (in a bit highlighted by The Playlist), Phillips says the dark and unpleasant Joker marks a new direction for him, away from the comedies with which he made his name, including the Hangover trilogy, Road Trip, Old School, and Due Date. But it’s not like wants to be done with the genre; in his mind, the kids drove him to Scorsese knock-offs in comic book movie clothes.

“Go try to be funny nowadays with this woke culture,” Phillips told VF. “There were articles written about why comedies don’t work anymore — I’ll tell you why, because all the f*cking funny guys are like, ‘F*ck this shit, because I don’t want to offend you.’”

Phillips — who prior to Joker, Phillips made War Dogs, a black comedy with satirical airs.
— wasn’t done:

“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 f*ck 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.”

Phillips is far from the only person who’s worked in the comedic wing of the entertainment business to complain about our more sensitive era. Dave Chappelle and Bill Burr have spent chunks of recent specials complaining about their jokes being called out or condemned. (Burr, at least, quickly moved on to actual jokes.)

Some, including colleagues, have criticized those complaints, wondering why comics don’t do their job and find what makes people laugh in 2019. (Besides, they can always go the Dennis Miller route, playing pretty much exclusively to rightwing crowds.) And while he received support from some people — including former NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch, so good job there — those who haven’t been sympathetic to Chappelle weren’t exactly sympathetic to the director of the Starsky & Hutch movie.

Some pointed to a recently exhumed interview with George Carlin — a man “anti-PC” comics gleefully hold up as an icon — in which he called out Andrew Dice Clay for “punching down” with cracks at minorities.

And some are just a little tired of Phillips, who has never been this loud before.

Anyway, this is a shame. But at least we can expect more War Dogs.

(Via Vanity Fair and The Playlist)

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