As “Joker” heads above the $850 million mark at the worldwide box office (it’s now the highest grossing R-rated release of all time, unadjusted for inflation), the clown face of Joaquin Phoenix’s troubled Arthur Fleck has begun popping up at government protests around the work. A new report from France24 states that protestors in Chile, Lebanon, Hong Kong, and Iraq have been wearing the “Joker” clown makeup at public demonstrations protesting government corruption and elitism. A group of graffiti artists in Lebanon known as Ashekm have even painted a giant mural of Phoenix’s Joker holding a Molotov cocktail.
“Todd Philipps’ film about the Joker has a real evocative power,” historian William Blanc told France24. “It echoes a form of protest against a political system that people believe is inflexible and not listening to the people… At the end of Todd Philipps’ film, a bit like at the end of ‘V for Vendetta’, everyone putting on the same mask is their way of coming together as a group, to create a collective, to not feel alone with your struggle.”
“Joker” was released October 4 in the U.S. and has spent four of its five weekends in the top spot at the domestic box office. The movie has proven to be just as popular worldwide as it is stateside, with grosses in Hong Kong nearing the $6 million mark. While some film critics initially feared “Joker” would encourage violence, not many predicted the iconography of Phoenix’s clown would become a fixture at international government protests. Even quotes from the movie have begun popping up in protest cities. The catchphrase “we are all clowns” from the film was recently added to the foot of a statue in Los Ángeles, Chile, France24 reports.
The appearance of Phoenix’s Joker at so many political rallies is a testament to just how big of a reach the movie has developed over its first month of release. As the film continues to tap into the worldwide zeitgeist, it could get near or even surpass the coveted $1 billion mark at the box office. “Joker” continues to play in theaters nationwide.
— AFP Beirut (@AFP_Beirut) October 20, 2019
There’s a Joker facepaint station at the protests in Beirut pic.twitter.com/C7BSRyOjS1
— Helen Sullivan (@helenrsullivan) October 18, 2019
Some people in Lebanon are protesting corruption and the political elite in “Joker” make-up: pic.twitter.com/0aOglCqf2B
— AJ+ (@ajplus) October 23, 2019