Marc Maron on ‘Joker’: Don’t Blame Movies for Criminal Actions of the Mentally Ill

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Marc Maron is the latest person to weigh in on the mass hysteria surrounding Todd Phillips’s upcoming “Joker” — which he calls “some sort of cultural psychic whirlwind,” on the latest episode of his WTF podcast. Maron has a cameo in the controversial film, basically as the assistant producer for Robert De Niro’s character, a schmoozy talk-show host. Maron criticized the obsessive media attention devoted to “Joker,” referencing how the public discourse has, inadvertently or not, led to fears about possible acts of violence intended for the film’s opening weekend, which begins today.

“I did one scene in the fucking ‘Joker’ movie, and I did pretty good,” Maron said. “I know there’s a swirl of questions, some sort of cultural psychic whirlwind around the timing of the movie, the nature of the movie, whether this is the right time for a movie about a guy who’s mentally troubled and snaps. All that shit I understand, but shouldn’t the focus be on health care, mental-health treatment on a national level?”

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He went on to suggest that media attention might be put to better use addressing issues unearthed by the film, such as gun control. He then added that we should not blame movies for the criminal actions of the mentally ill.

“I know that that anger doesn’t always have a place to land, but it can’t land on movies. If anything the media debate of it is trying to provoke something awful to happen. Movies don’t cause this, and I don’t see how blaming movies is going to help anything. I don’t think that movies are to blame for mentally unstable people taking action in a criminal, violent way,” he said.

On the podcast episode, Maron also expressed disagreement with Phillips’ remarks — recently shaded by director Taika Waititi — about how “woke culture” killed comedy.

“People ask me what I think about what Todd Phillips said about why he doesn’t make comedies anymore… because ‘you can’t be funny anymore, it’s gotten too difficult to be funny with woke culture.’ That tired saw. That old saw,” Maron said.

“There’s plenty of people being funny right now, not only being funny right now, but being really fucking funny. There are still lines to be rode if you like to ride a line. If you want to take chances, you can still take chances… If you’re too intimidated to try and do comedy that is deep and provocative or even a little controversial without hurting people, then you’re not good at what you do.”

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