Todd Phillips’ controversial Joker has inspired protesters worldwide to adopt the Joaquin Phoenix makeup/mask from the film. Despite getting mixed response from critics and audiences, the new take on the iconic Batman villain continues to clean up at the box office.
But Chinese theatres probably won’t screen the film at all as protesters have begun to wear Joker masks and paint. The situation appears to have escalated in ways no one could have predicted.
People in Lebanon (and many other cities) have also begun painting the Joker’s face. A group of graffiti artists known as Ashekm have painted a mural of a frowning clown gripping a Molotov cocktail. In LA, Hong Kong and many other cities around the world other messages and art can be found.
‘Joker has a real evocative power’
In an interview with France24, author and historian William Blanc explained why he thinks protesters have taken to the character.
He says: “Todd Phillips’ film about the Joker has real evocative power. It echoes a form of protest against a political system that people believe is inflexible and not listening to the people.”
Despite the growing notoriety, the phenomenon is still relatively underground. But interestingly, the response from the film is clearly strong.
It appears the Joker influence will continue to grow from here. Traditionally the Joker is a nameless, mysterious somewhat elemental character. But Todd Phillips gave this Joker a name and a backstory built from sympathy.
The Joker isn’t supposed to inspire people. But so many have rallied behind Phoenix’s take on the villain that the impact is worth examining. It’s clear Arthur Fleck could be viewed as a liberating force but equally, he’s a raging psychopath. Because he fits both descriptions perfectly it makes the discussion much more complex and deeper than anyone could have predicted.
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