Todd Phillips laments the state of comedy with the current era of ‘woke culture’

Joker Premiere

Joaquin Phoenix is the cover interview for the November issue of Vanity Fair. He’s promoting Joker, of course, and the interview was surprisingly in-depth and personal, and Joaquin did a good job of talking about the film in a substantive way all on his own. I’m covering it separately, because this mess deserved its own post. Within the VF cover profile, Joker director Todd Phillips was interviewed as well. He had great things to say about Joaquin’s performance, of course, but Phillips also spoke about how he, a comedy writer-director, came to make a dark comic book movie which is basically a problematic incel fantasy. Guess what? It’s his own incel story, basically. He is the aggrieved white dude lamenting “cancel culture.”

Todd Phillips, who directed the comedies Old School and the Hangover series, pitched the idea of a Joker movie to Warner Bros. as a kind of anti-superhero film, with practically no CGI effects or cartoonish plots, but instead a dark realism drained of heroics. Phillips had found it increasingly difficult, he says, to make comedies in the new “woke” Hollywood, and his brand of irreverent bro humor has lost favor.

“Go try to be funny nowadays with this woke culture,” he says. “There were articles written about why comedies don’t work anymore—I’ll tell you why, because all the f–king funny guys are like, ‘F–k this sh-t, because I don’t want to offend you.’ 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–k 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.”

The result is a drama that doubles as a critique of Hollywood: an alienated white guy whose failure to be funny drives him into a vengeful rage.

[From Vanity Fair]

No, this isn’t terrifying in the least. Aggrieved white dude: “Why don’t people think my racist, sexist shtick is funny anymore? I’ll show them. I’LL GET VIOLENT.” In Todd Phillips’ case, he took his bro angst and channelled it into making a dark, violent incel fantasy. That’s what it amounts to. It reminds me of that quote which is largely attributed to Margaret Atwood, regarding fragile masculinity: “Men are afraid that women will laugh at them. Women are afraid that men will kill them.” White dudes lamenting “woke culture” are just telling you that they wish they could continue to marginalize communities with “comedy” and they’re SO MAD that those marginalized communities now have more of a voice in society.

Todd Phillips, Joaquin Phoenix at the premiere of Warner Bros Pictures "Joker" held at TCL Chinese Theatre IMAX

Photos courtesy of WENN.

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41 Responses to “Todd Phillips laments the state of comedy with the current era of ‘woke culture’”

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  1. OriginalLala says:

    When white men lament how unfair it is that they can no long punch down on marginalized groups, it tells me all I need to know about them.

  2. StormsMama says:

    Agree with your take on this Kaiser.
    Let me add: there are plenty of people who are STILL gasp FUNNY
    Sooooooo maybe I’m not crying for ya bro!

    And they can be a white dude and get it
    For example I saw Patton Oswald and he was amazing, hilarious…and woke 🤷🏼‍♀️

    • whatWHAT? says:

      “there are plenty of people who are STILL gasp FUNNY”

      yup, if your only way to be “funny” is to make fun of and/or denigrate an already marginalized group, minority, gender, etc…then you ARE NOT FUNNY, you are a bully.

      PS – I LOVE Patton Oswalt.

    • Megan says:

      Michelle Wolf, Trevor Noah, Amy Shumer, Ali Wong, Guy Branum … there are plenty of people making comedy that doesn’t reply on racism and sexism.

    • Carol says:

      I sort of agree with Todd Phillips in that the pendulum swung from right to left and needs to find the center. But Phillips just isn’t funny anyway. Regardless if you think his humor is offensive or not. Due Date? painful to watch because it was so dull. Hangover 2 & 3? God awful. The list goes on….

  3. stepup says:

    I am so sick of these snowflake shit pods who can’t handle traditionally marginalized people pushing back against entrenched societal prejudice. Furthermore, how do they NOT see the hypocrisy in their stance!? I’m sick of this dude; I’m sick of fucking Bill Maher (seriously, Democrats need to stop indulging him).

    • Ann says:

      I feel you on Bill Maher. I love Real Time but Bill is getting worse with his anti-PC schtick. I have a feeling he will have a long diatribe about this specific situation on the next episode. He is becoming a Republican under trumpism and it’s annoying. Plus he rarely has progressives on any more to clap back at this nonsense. I think he lost pull with progressives after the N word scandal and now he’s making it out like he is rejecting them. This Todd Phillips dude is doing the same thing with comedy.

    • otaku fairy.... says:

      I’m sick of it too.

  4. Jess says:

    Yea. This is so pathetic. I saw someone on Twitter say that “woke/cancel culture” is the best thing that happened to these lame dudes because they have an excuse for why their hacky old schticks don’t work anymore. There’s been a great George Carlin clip from the early 90s floating around Twitter (Discussing Dice Clay) where he says comedy should punch up, not down, but there are a lot of threatened white guys who like to see comedians punching down.

    • Original Jenns says:

      When George MF Carlin says “comedy” against women, people of color, immigrants isn’t funny, there is no more arguing. I wonder what this incel would say about that? Or would he make more excuses.

  5. Rapunzel says:

    I had a convo on FB with a person who lamented, “it’s so hard to know what’s acceptable to say nowadays” I was like: “no it isn’t- it’s easy: people will tell you when you are out of line and all you have to do is listen.”

    The problem with petulant white dudebros like Phillips is they don’t want to listen.

  6. MrsBanjo says:

    Does he not have a publicist or anyone around him advising him to shut his face? Good lord, he’s ridiculous.

  7. Lolamd says:

    My husband wants to see this. I am going to have to say no on this.

  8. Meg says:

    I notice he said funny guys. If he wasn’t already coming across poorly I’d give him the benefit of the doubt but I fear he really is just thinking of funny male comics not women.
    I thought many don’t want to host network censored award shows if their comedy includes things that would need to be edited a lot, like swearing or sexual jokes etc not necessarily prejudice insensitive jokes then their style or approach would be so different than normal their audience wouldn’t recognize them and their identity would be unrecognizable. The media is so different now, streaming HBO, etc it’s not like network shows are he best way to find a huge audience anymore and the ratings for those shows lately have been in the toilet

  9. Who ARE These People? says:

    Wow, what an asshole.

    Also, ‘irreverent’ is defined as “showing a lack of respect for people or things that are generally taken seriously.”

    That’s different from insulting people or playing on cheap stereotypes. As well, women are not generally taken seriously. It sounds as if his idea of being “funny” only incorporates the first part of that sentence — “showing a lack of respect for people.” And only certain people.

    There’s a clip going around of George Carlin being interviewed by Larry King. Carlin made the point that you can be funny without hurting people’s feelings. In fact, it’s better.

  10. reef says:

    It’s extremely difficult listening to rich people complain about anything really but especially their inability to be dicks in traditional ways.
    I look forward to bootlegging this movie.

  11. Valiantly Varnished says:

    I went OFF on Twitter about this dude yesterday. He was chased away from comedy? No dear. You simply weren’t talented enough to adapt to changing society and instead of putting in the work to do so you did what every angry white dude does. Blame marginalized people for your mediocrity and resort to violent to make you feel better about yourself. White male fragility cliche.

  12. kerwood says:

    Oh, he REALLY doesn’t want me to see his film.

  13. Christina says:

    Trump did one positive thing: he helped a lot of people see that plenty of problems in our society are really about white men maintaining power, and many white people who didn’t want to believe that was the case see it. I am grateful to read the comments from all of you. It makes me feel like more people see what my friends and I have discussed since we were very young.

  14. BlueSky says:

    Privilege is invisible to those that have it. People like him are not interested in evolving and changing. They want to continue to behave the same way and not get called on it.We are in the age of social media and Me Too. Marginalized people now have a platform and can call out bullshit in real time. Sexist ,homophobic ,racist jokes were never funny . it’s just now people feel like they have a voice in calling this out more. Self reflection takes maturity, something he clearly lacks.

  15. Leriel says:

    Taika Waititi already dragged him thanks god.

    If WB will lose awards campaign for Joker, I hope they know who to thank for that. Can’t they make him to shut up already?

  16. adastraperaspera says:

    These guys just aren’t funny, and they need something to blame. They use tired, unimaginative tropes over and over–selling them to a market of young boys as a way to nudge them into “bro culture,” or whatever it’s called depending on the decade.

  17. Cindy says:

    You know, I originally wanted to defend the movie (even if I have no intention of seeing it) because I think it’s absolutely preposterous that people are now judging a movie based on how likely it is to inspire a terrorist attack. Has gun violence been normalized that much that we’d rather regulate the movies people watch than guns themselves? If a movie inspired you to kill people, it’s not the movie that turned you insane, you were insane to begin with.

    Then this guy opened his mouth and… well, f-ck that. I’m not defending this mess.

    • Xi Tang says:

      You’re spot on. I hated the fake outrage around this dumb and average looking movie.
      But then this asshole started to moan about sjw and pc culture. He knows exactly what type of crowd’s support he’s rallying around him.
      I love Joaquin and will eventually watch for him. On vod.

  18. Maria says:

    This movie was way overpublicized for the type of film that it is, and I feel like it only won the Venice award to make some headlines that weren’t about Roman Polanski.
    Between the FBI’s “credible threats” of violence, and this dude’s horrible tone-deaf idiocy, there’s no way I’m seeing this.

  19. Grant says:

    BARF. As soon as you mentioned that he directed the Hangover films, that was all I needed to know about him. I remember in the first Hangover film (which does NOT hold up, by the by) there’s a reprehensible scene where Bradley Cooper is waiting in a car for Ed Helms’s character (a dentist); Bradley yells, “Paging Dr. F*ggot! Paging Dr. F*ggot!!!” Is that the kind of juvenile, inane, basic, unfunny comedy to which Todd Phillips seeks to cling? If so, F you, Todd Phillips.

  20. CK says:

    If you’re crying about people getting offended by your comedy, you really need to pick a new job. I’m sick of all these artists who act like critique and/or backlash is killing them and their career. Either get better, learn how to deal with the backlash, or get a new career because critique/backlash is as old as the profession itself.

  21. Sophia’s Sideye says:

    This is just an excuse for another mediocre dude to hang on to his career. Frankly he’s free to leave if unfunny, dudebro humor is all he has to offer, he won’t be missed. I hope guys like him continue to go away and make room for actual talented people, including *gasp* women to make their mark and be funny without punching down. My husband put The Hangover on a couple weeks ago and, like grant said above, it has NOT aged well. Not that it was even funny at the time it came out, but it was considered good by others. Just saying, if that’s a measure of this guy’s talent then I want none of it and I will not be supporting anything he puts out in the future.

    The days where you could be mediocre and lazy and still have a lucrative career are over. People’s money spends the same all over the world, so what he’s really saying is that he’s entitled to our money without the need to be talented, and that’s BS. You are not entitled, sir, don’t let the door hit you in the ass on your way out.

  22. Ok says:

    I mean this guy relies on dumb humor… and smart comedies have taken over. He sounds offended people don’t find the dumb crap funny anymore.

  23. 2Tired says:

    I am so embarrassed for him. Imagine thinking you were EVER funny when the only people who laughed at your horrible “jokes” are abusive bigots who are so incapable of defending their crappy humor that they immediately and preemptively back down from the same people they call “overly-sensitive snowflakes.” Oh lord, the irony. This is like a Nazi lamenting the lack of Jews to imprison because he has already killed them all.

    Dylan Moran. Adam Hills. Ruth Jones. AAAALLL of the people already named in this thread. There is a reason those comedians still have jobs, jackass.

  24. PutnamPrincess says:

    This is making so not want to see this movie. I hope all this stuff tanks its Oscar chances.

  25. Chris says:

    When Eddie Murphy, this past week, expresses regret over some of the well documented ‘jokes’ from his standup specials in the 80s guys like Phillips and that asshole recently fired from SNL need some perspective.

    The thing about Todd’s complaint is it shows his limited ideas of comedy. There have been many great comedy movies and tv shows alone that, pre ‘woke’, don’t rely on punching down on women, gays or minorities and what it exposed here is that Todd is, I imagine, one of those guys who when he was a kid/teenager found the sexual assault gags in stuff like PORKY’S and REVENGE OF THE NERDS hilarious and as he’s grown, I’m sure, would find ways to still defend that crap.