Influencers Swarm the Meme Staircase


It seems the Joaquin Phoenix led Joker movie refuses to leave headlines. The film has attracted tons of reviews, columns regarding its portrayal of mental illness, public safety announcements and more. Trust me, I am tired of talking about it, but the latest headlines popping up around it are too weird to not talk about.

For reasons beyond comprehension, this movie has kicked up a lot of drama around a flight of stairs.The stairs that Phoenix dances on in full Joker costume have recently gathered a strange cult following due to the scene being turned into a viral internet meme. This meme eventually led iFunny users to find the stairs on Google street view and then mark them as a religious site on Google maps. Following memeing, various Instagram influencers have flocked to these steps to produce content for their brands. This quest for clout has caused the area around these stairs to be incessantly clogged by photographers, tourists, and inbound or outbound Ubers all trying to capitalize on this meme before it falls out of favor.

As a result, numerous residents of the Bronx are voicing their displeasure on platforms like Twitter. The traffic is naturally annoying, but it is not the sole cause of displeasure here. Clout tourism, and the issues that stem from it, are unfortunately not new issues.

Following the release of the popular HBO drama Chernobyl, influencers from across the globe flocked to the mostly abandoned (and still radioactive) exclusion zone to take photos. Naturally, these photos drew harsh criticism due to their ignorance of the history that surrounds this site.

While the Joker stairs may not carry a history on the same scale as Chernobyl, they are still a real location that have a surrounding social context that is being neglected. By ignoring the rich history and local businesses of the area, these influencers are engaging in a purely self-oriented business.