The U.S. military has sent a memo to service members warning about the possibility of incel violence targeting screenings of Warner Bros.’ upcoming comic book movie “Joker.” No specific attacks or credible threats have been determined, but the military is upping awareness for its service members. The Army confirmed Tuesday, September 24 with io9 reporter Dell Cameron that FBI officials contacted them to say they uncovered social media posts related to incel extremists who are referencing on social media violent attacks at “Joker” screenings. The Army’s memo classifies “incels” as “individuals who express frustration from perceived disadvantages to starting intimate relationships.”
The memo informs service members that “incel extremists idolize violent individuals like the Aurora movie theater shooter. They also idolize the Joker character, the violent clown from the Batman series, admiring his depiction as a man who must pretend to be happy, but eventually fights back against his bullies.”
“We do this routinely because the safety and security of our workforce is paramount,” an Army spokesperson told io9 about widely distributing a warning. “We want our workforce to be prepared and diligent on personal safety both inside the workplace and out.”
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Twelve people were murdered on July 20, 2012 when a gunman in Aurora, Colorado opened fire on moviegoers watching Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight Rises.” Family members of some of the Aurora shooting victims recently sent a letter to Warner Bros. expressing concerns over the “Joker” release. While the family members are not boycotting the “Joker” release or asking Warner Bros. to cancel it, they are urging the studio to support anti-gun laws in the lead-up to the film’s October theatrical release.
Warner Bros. followed up by issuing its own statement standing by “Joker,” saying the movie “does not endorse real-world violence” nor is it “the intention of the film, the filmmakers, or the studio to hold this character up as a hero.” The studio also mentioned that “it has a long history of donating to victims of violence, including Aurora, and in recent weeks, our parent company joined other business leaders to call on policymakers to enact bi-partisan legislation to address this epidemic.”
The U.S. military memo, which has been posted in full on i09’s website, says that that intel uncovered from incel social media posts “presents a potential risk to DOD personnel and family members, though there are no known specific credible threats to the opening of the Joker on 4 October.” The statement adds, “When entering theaters, identify two escape routes, remain aware of your surroundings, and remember the phrase ‘run, hide, fight.'”
Warner Bros. is releasing “Joker” in theaters nationwide October 4.