Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Real-life jokers spreading chaos with signs banning single men from Joker screenings

Photo: Kevin Winter (Getty Images)

Joker, the new comic book movie about a bad guy named Joker, is making everybody lose their shit. In one of the best viral marketing effects of our dumb age, concerns over whether impressionable, embittered virgin dudes will watch a deranged clown embark on his supervillain career and decide this is the last push necessary to start shooting up public places have prompted weeks of ridiculous discussions about the dangerous morality of a Batman spin-off made by the director of The Hangover Part III.

In the time-honored American tradition of slapping a Band-Aid over the sucking wound that is the larger cultural issue spurning Joker-related fears, some theaters have even banned screenings. Looking to take advantage of the complete surrealism of this moment, @jinpayn made a joke about it, putting up an official-looking notice at an AMC theater kiosk describing a “no singles policy” for a Joker showing “due to safety precautions.”


The line between ridiculous joke and the ridiculous state of contemporary discourse meant, of course, that people assumed the sign was real and AMC had to get out there to say that, no, it’s fake and they would happily accept money from lone movie-goers hoping to see the 21st century’s most dangerous possible art.


Adding onto this, comedians Nick Ciarelli and Brad Evans made their own, even more obviously unofficial sign that laid out a theater’s “strict ‘NO GUYS WHO LOOK LIKE THEY’VE NEVER HAD SEX’ POLICY.”


Based on @jinpayn’s original sign, Ciarelli and Evan’s makes clear that “any persons who look like their balls are backed up with cum” would be barred from the screening. “Our staff will have to inspect your weird balls to make sure that you have unloaded ropes into another human within the last year,” it further explains. After the message was officially disowned by ArcLight Cinemas, Ciarelli tweeted out a new one clarifying that ArcLight does “not require weird ball inspections and all customers are allowed to see the movie, regardless of their level of rope-unloading experience.”


As these things go, the theaters have continued to be mad. AMC apparently issued @jinpayn a warning, which may or may not be real, not to return to any of their theaters under threat of “the involvement of law enforcement” and possible arrest.


There is, of course, now an apology response to this as well that makes certain AMC is aware @jinpayn is very sorry that “trying to be funny” ended up requiring them to take “risks, such as taping a piece of paper onto a kiosk and taking a picture of it.” A grocery list is added for good measure.


All of this, funny but not necessarily in a “ha-ha” way upon a little bit of reflection, is a perfectly stupid encapsulation of a perfectly stupid cultural moment. The character of The Joker—though we would never endorse anything that reflects the all-too real dangers of his terrifying mindsetwould probably approve.


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About the author

Reid McCarter

Contributor, The A.V. Club. Reid's a writer and editor who has appeared at GQ, Playboy, and Paste. He also co-created and writes for videogame sites Bullet Points Monthly and Digital Love Child.