In tag, mask or make-up, the face of the Joker has appeared in various forms for several days in the four corners of the world in processions of demonstrators who protest against the power in place in their country. From Chile to Lebanon to Hong Kong, several people are wearing the colors of Joaquin Phoenix's current film character, whose Todd Philipps movie already seems to be a hit, two weeks after its release.
# Snapshot A Lebanese Manifested in Beirut Made Up in "Joker", October 23, 2019
📷 @ Patrick_Baz #AFP pic.twitter.com/OgzaQgsjY4
"Todd Philipps' Joker movie has real evocative power," says William Blanc, historian, author of the book "Superheroes, a political history" (Ed Libertalia), contacted by France 24. "Today he is It echoes a form of protest against a political system that people feel is seized. "
Since its release in theaters, the street has captured this symbol of contestation, especially in Lebanon, where the graffiti group Ashekm painted on a wall the grinning clown holding a Molotov cocktail. Other inscriptions directly refer to Todd Philipps' film as in the Chilean city of Los Angeles, where we read at the foot of a statue "We are all clowns" ("We are all clowns").
pic.twitter.com/ebgBPxYrm3Otro Camilo (@AnotherCamilo) October 18, 2019
There are many references to cartoon characters, but they do not seem massive at the moment, as Checknews explained. Above all, the Joker is not the only mask to be worn in the processions. In Hong Kong, for example, protesters are defying an emergency law that bans the wearing of the mask by wearing the one of Winnie the Pooh or Pepe the Frog, as reported by the Associated Press.
In the continuity of V for Vendetta
But whether in Hong Kong or Beirut, it is the mask of Guy Fawkes, instigator in the sixteenth century of an attempted assassination attempt against the English Parliament, and carried by V, anarchist-revolutionary hero of the film " V for Vendetta ", released in 2006, which remains the most used in the processions. Popularized by Anonymous, this representation has more common points than it seems with the Joker. "The central theme of these two films is social atomization, the fact of being alone in the face of one's own misery," explains William Blanc. "At the end of Todd Philipps' film, a bit like the end of 'V for Vendetta', when everyone puts on the mask, it's a way of recreating a group, of recreating a collective."
The two characters were scripted by the same author, Alan Moore, in the 80s. In the comics "V for Vendetta" (published in 1982 by DC Comics), "it targets fascism and writes it to a moment of very strong political reaction - Margaret Thatcher in England, Ronald Reagan in the United States - of a hard and ultra-liberal right, we are in this continuity with the Joker ", explains William Blanc In the graphic novel" The Killing Joke "(released in 1988, ed. DC Comics), which inspired Todd Philipps, the character of the Joker takes a social dimension that is found in the film released in 2019. According to the historian, the clown becomes" a product of the system, of social inequality ".
A protest wearing The Joker's mask in our protests in Beirut # لبنان_ينتفض pic.twitter.com/eySDPUyGkg🦇 (@fade__to_black) October 18, 2019
The parallel does not stop there. The two masks found in the protesters' procession display a smile that William Blanc describes as both "mocking" and "terrifying". V and the Joker "are victims of power and revenge," he explains, "they have the body distorted by social violence, and the fact that they smile is a way of saying 'Look: you hurt me, but I come back with a smile. "It is also a morbid smile, these characters are there to terrify each time mainly powerful people, people of being able to be clueless in front of someone who wants to revenge."
It is, however, difficult to know if the Joker embodies anything from a political point of view. According to William Blanc, "it's a plastic character and not right or left". Todd Philipps' film that inspires the protesters "speaks mostly about being alone outside of any collective, and that's a contemporary evil."