'The Joker Stairs' Memes That Started In Bronx, New York City


The Joker by Todd Phillip and starring Joaquin Phoenix, tells the past story of Batman's most iconic adversary.

In the movie, the deranged maniac was shown dancing down the steps after completing his transition and becoming the Joker. With the movie hitting box office around the world, the influence of the famous character is portrayed in the real life.

The steps which are located in New York City’s northernmost borough, connecting Shakespearean and Anderson Avenues at West 167th Street, quickly turned into a tourist attraction from people in New York City and elsewhere.

People are heading to the spot in large numbers, taking selfies and populating social media networks with the Joker's pose.

Some people have referred Joaquin Phoenix's "dancing and smoking" while walking down the stairs with Gary Glitter's "Rock and Roll Part 2" playing in the background, as one of the "best things to ever happen in movies."

At one point, someone had even renamed the stairs at 167 to "The Joker Stairs", before it was the change was reverted.

The Joker Stairs
The Joker Stairs. (Credit: Daily Mail)

Bronx is long stained with its rough reputation that is difficult to shed.

While many things have changed in the area, including associations with arson fires and crime that have lessened in recent years, Bronx isn't an area popular with tourists. Despite it is the home to the Bronx Zoo, the New York Botanical Gardens and Yankee Stadium.

But with the Joker, things are changing a bit.

The trend has have populated Instagram and Twitter with photos and GIFs, with fans doing their best impressions mimicking the Joker's dance on the location.

The Joker and the trend, have immediately ingrained themselves in pop culture, and have even provided memes unrivaled by most notable films.

Another example of mainstream movies hitting the real world pop culture, was when Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky Balboa climbed the steps in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art in 1976’s Rocky. During the popularity, people came from all over to climb the Rocky steps and raise their arms in triumph when they reached the top.

Joker, whose real name is Arthur Fleck, was portrayed by Phoenix.

In 1981, he was a failed comedian, and forever alone in a crowd as he walked the streets of Gotham City. Fleck wears two masks: the one he paints for his day job as a clown, and the one he created as a disguise in his revenge to the world who looked down on him.

Isolated, bullied and disregarded by society, Fleck who experienced mental illness, began a slow descent into madness as he transformed into the criminal mastermind known as the Joker, the Clown Prince of Crime.

The movie shattered box office records, opening to $96 million, the highest-grossing October debut ever, surpassing Venom that hit the peak in October 2018.

The psychological thriller film that was considered one of the highest-grossing film of 2019 and one of the highest-grossing R-rated film of all time, won the Bogey Awards and the Toronto International Film Festival. It also won the Venice Film Festival's top prize before its public debut.

With the many praised the films and Phoenix's performance for the dark tone, portrayal of mental illness, and handling of violence divided responses, Joker also generated concerns of inspiring real-world violence.

And as for the sudden increase in visitors in the stairs, not everyone is happy. Some residents that were accustomed and familiar with the neighborhood complained that the area has become overcrowded in certain occasions.

Some locals have even suggested to tax "anyone visiting the Joker stairs", with others warning visitors to stay away "or get robbed".

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