ASUU Gets its Freak on with ‘Joker’ Screening

By Alison Myers, Arts Writer


Cotton spiderwebs, plastic skeletons and “jump out of your skin” movies. Folks, spooky season is upon us, and the Campus Events Board of the Associated Students of the University of Utah is prepared. ASUU has been bringing free screenings of new movies to the U ever since Jacob Young, the ASUU Films Chair, can remember. On Oct. 3rd, they’ll be presenting the movie “Joker,” the perfect spooky movie, at 7:30 at the Century 16 theater. The best part? All you need to go is RSVP at their Campus Connect page, enter Joker into the search bar and receive your gift of horror — good acting and guaranteed sleepless nights. 

ASUU frequently rents out theaters for free screenings, even on opening movie nights, which, according to Young, beats streaming at home. The excitement of getting out of the house and seeing something on the big screen has to bring back some childhood thrill. They already have many of their next movies lined up, thinking ahead about a year. They will be screening “Frozen 2” after “Joker,” which, depending on your definitions of discomfort, is quite a departure. Young likes to keep a variety of options for students, breaking away from the assumptions of what student life is like and finding options that could include young families. Featuring Disney will no doubt also appeal to many of us grown-up kids, as will Evan Rachel Wood’s announcement about her part in the film. 

Young also plans to show the live-action “Mulan” and the next James Bond film later in the year. Both seem mild in comparison to “Joker.” When asked how he felt about having a student film night with such a dark, R-rated film, he says that he could have chosen another one.

“There were a couple of other movies that would have been fitting for Halloween season, but the ‘Joker’ has Oscar buzz,” Young said.

This should put a smile on your face: the film took the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival. Not only that, the film received an eight-minute standing ovation. The Joker, portrayed by a menagerie of delightfully disturbing performances, finds a new face in Joaquin Phoenix, who has been nominated for three Academy Awards in the past. Who knows — we may be looking at the second Joker to take home an Oscar. 

Three of the movies ASUU selected last year have also seen action at the Oscars, including “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “First Man” and “Green Book.” These, among other movies, have helped this potential offer not only entertainment to students but hopefully inspirational goosebumps and artistic appreciation. Let’s be honest, regardless of whether or not “Joker” finds recognition with Academy Awards doesn’t determine its value. It has defied all expectations and looks stunning. 

Young and ASUU try to select films that will appeal to students while also building a partnership with a college or campus resource. Originally, Young had thought to reach out to the Counseling Center, thinking that “Joker” would be an impetus for discussion about mental health. This plan didn’t pan out, though. The Counseling Center did not want to be associated with a twisted film of this breed. Young had good intentions, but it would be impossible to hold this comic-book-level exaggerated insanity and the misunderstood reality of mental illness in the same hand. With mental illness existing on such a broad spectrum, it would be damaging to associate it with violent insanity. The movie, leaning into realism more than other comic films, should still offer a dialogue about trauma and how society handles it. 

Young still likes the idea of using the film as a platform of discussion for “students going through tough times, trauma in the past and the present and negative relationships.” Young decided it would be best to go in another direction, though, also not wanting to contribute to the stigma still surrounding mental illness. His next idea has him turning towards the theater department, thinking if nothing else, the film’s caliber will tie it back to them, although their partnership is tentative. 

This year, the ASUU has decided to go the sustainability route with tickets by having everything online. He admits that it won’t save a lot of paper, “but anything helps.” You can RSVP at or you can find the link in their Instagram bio. You’ll also be able to invite one guest for free. Expect a good time and harrowing film, but you’ll need to find your own popcorn. Young, for all his good taste, doesn’t like the mess. 

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