Joker isn't yet in theaters, but it's already proving to be the most controversial film of the year. Police are covering screenings for fear of extremist violence; star Joaquin Phoenix walked out of an interview when asked about such. The U.S. military has issued a warning instructing service members to "identify two escape routes" inside the theater and "run, hide, fight" in the event of a shooting. Whether the movie leads to real-world violence or not, the cultural weight surrounding this film about an evil clown is quite heavy.
The movie has already spurred countless takes and opinions, and here's another one to top it all off, courtesy of your friendly beauty fact-checkers at Allure: The Joker doesn't even know how to dye his damn hair.
We were privileged to see an advance screening of the film, and we're here to report that there is a pivotal scene in the film in which the Joker dyes his brown hair green...without bleaching it first. As someone who has spent more hours of their life in a colorist's chair than I care to remember, this scene is the beauty equivalent of nails on a chalkboard. Convince an entire city to take part in a Purge-style revolt, sure, I believe it. Take your hair from brown to green without bleach? Absolutely never going to happen.
Beauty-aware cinephiles may also recall Jennifer Lawrence's character in 2018's Red Sparrow dying her dark blonde hair to a full-on white platinum without gloves and using one lone box of color. The scene drew criticism, not just for a lack of awareness about the coloring process, but its lack of interest in the amount of labor its main character would have had to go through to transform her identity. In Joker, the transformation is just as key to the character and feels equally sloppy. Screenwriters Scott Silver (8 Mile, The Fighter) and Todd Phillips (The Hangover trilogy) may not have written many hair-dye scenes before. But if HBO's Succession can hire Derek Blasberg as a "media and culture consultant" to explain how the rich and powerful really function, this big-budget movie can afford to chat with a hair colorist.
"Watching people do their own hair in movies makes me cringe," says Amber Maynard Bolt, a colorist at Nine Zero One salon in Los Angeles. "At this point in cinema, you would think someone would have done a little homework. If a young, impressionable fan watches a movie where their idol changes their hair, chances are, they are attempting it at home too."
If said Joker superfans do attempt to recreate the villain's hair at home, they may run into some trouble. "Unless you are starting from a naturally very pale blonde, the process would require you to pre-lighten the hair first to a pale yellow blonde," says Matrix colorist George Papanikolas. "If you apply the green color to darker hair, it will only give it a sheen and not the vivid and bright color you were expecting."
With Halloween approaching, the drugstore beauty aisles are about to be lined with temporary hair color. If you're looking for one night of green hair, a neon spray will certainly show up in your strands — it'll just wash out as soon as you hit the showers.
Moroccanoil's artistic director Kevin Hughes recently helped develop a line of color depositing masks, and even he tells us Joker's depiction is "not how temporary color works. In order for it to even have a brightness to it, it usually has to have a light undertone."
The Joker isn't a movie about hair dye. But it is a movie, in part, about the way changing your outward appearance can lead to deeper transformation. Even if it's with spray-on hair color.
More on movie magic:
- Why Jennifer Lawrence's Hair-Color Transformation in Red Sparrow Is Totally Unrealistic
- Spectrum Launches Major Collaboration With Disney's The Little Mermaid
- Makeup Artist Lisa Eldridge Talks Disney's Dumbo
Don't get us started on removing the Joker's makeup:
Originally Appeared on Allure