Joker triggers onslaught of ‘meme tourism’ after fanatics flock to Bronx
Even as the cinematic world still resonates with applause over Joaquin Phoenix’s gut-punching portrayal of Arthur Fleck in the film Joker, a new menace has surfaced in the neighbourhood of Bronx where the iconic ‘dancing scene’ was shot. The winding flight of stairs between Shakespeare and Anderson Avenues in Bronx’s Highbridge neighbourhood has gained itself a new pet name, “The Joker Stairs.” As Instagrammers drive in hoards to the location in an attempt to recreate Fleck’s maniacal outburst into dance, the residents of the neighbourhood are facing an unprecedented problem, that of the stairs becoming a tourist attraction. The phenomenon has been so widespread that it has led to coining of a new term, ‘meme tourism’.
It remains to be seen whether the tourist hype is just another mass occurrence that will die a sudden death or linger on for years to come, but for now, residents have had to stop using the stairs, with reports of possible police intervention. If anything, this one incident clearly highlights the perils of media tourism in an age where cinematic travel is gaining more ground than ever before. The recent occurrence raises the obvious question: what is the cost of film tourism in a world driven by the desire to make everything Instagram-worthy? However, it remains to be seen how the local authorities handle the sudden onslaught.
Is the trend another in the age of Kiki challenge? Only time will tell. For now, the locals keep on braving the newfound meme tourism menace every day.