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‘The Joker Steps’ Are Now A Tourist Attraction

‘The Joker Steps’ Are Now A Tourist Attraction
This is not the first time a place has drawn people due to media influence, Photo Credit: Facebook/ Warner Bros. Pictures

The sudden and rising attention to the area is not met pleasantly by a lot of local residents

OT Staff
November 05 , 2019
05 Min Read

The Joker is arguably the most beloved DC Universe villain. The complexity of the character coupled with his ruthless yet comedic personality is unparalleled. Is it any surprise that the movie ‘Joker’ is a not-to-miss movie at the box office? First of its kind, the movie solely focuses on the origin of Joker as the villainous character he is, and the transformation of the ordinary Arthur Fleck into the infamous Joker.

 
 
 
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A post shared by Warner Bros. Pictures (@wbpictures) on Aug 29, 2019 at 11:02am PDT

This popularity of the movie has drawn crowds to what are now being called ‘The Joker Steps’ in the Bronx, becoming a tourist attraction. The steps mark a significant moment in the film when the character accepts his violent persona and dances gloriously while descending. The scene has been popularised on many a media and also used in various posters.

 
 
 
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ðŸÂÂŽ¬ðŸ¤¡ @jokermovie @toddphillips1

A post shared by Ray H. Mercado (@raylivez) on Oct 20, 2019 at 9:02am PDT

The outdoor steps are sandwiched between Shakespeare avenue and Anderson avenue. DC fans are seen at the site wearing costumes, playing music and obviously taking innumerable pictures. In fact, soon after the hashtag #JokerStairs emerged on the internet. The fans’ pleasant moment is unrequited by the locals who are fed up with the unwanted attention in their area. Now, the residents of the two buildings on either side of the steps are constantly subjected to people pouring into the neighbourhood.

The phenomenon that brings attention to such places is called ‘mediated gaze’. Fans gaze at the site differently than they would otherwise, owing to a feature in some form of media.

Read | The effects of overtourism on your favourite tourist destinations

However, it is hardly the first time that fans have flocked to a certain space due to media influence. Keeping in theme of the steps, the ones at the Philadelphia Museum of Art have been memorialised in the 1976 super hit Rocky. In the film, the scenes on the steps show Rocky transform into a victorious character as he trains to become a boxer. This fan favourite was packed with tourists and the steps soon came to be known as ‘the Rocky Steps’.

Tourist operators did not hesitate to monetise on the craze that Netflix original Narcos has generated. Multiple sites linked to the gangster Pablo Escobar were soon a tourist attraction as fans fly out to Colombia to seek thrilling experience. The deadly reign of Escobar led to many fatalities in the country. The memory is still not stale in their minds and the transformation to a tourist attraction comes off largely offensive.

And who can forget Dubrovnik’s surge of tourist influx, thanks to the internationally acclaimed Game of Thrones (maybe barring the last season). The show quickly built a loyal fanbase, who were ready to go as far as Dubrovnik just for a glimpse (and maybe an opportunity of social media attention) of the sites featured on the HBO show. This led to overtourism in no time and soon led to limitations imposed on tourist numbers and cruises.

Read | How does Europe deal with overtourism?

This rising influence of media comes along with accessibility. Thanks to streaming platforms and television, one can easily enjoy their favourite shows anywhere. This in turn has helped multiply fandoms and thus, create a new category of pop culture tourism. Pop culture tourism involves people travelling to the spots featured on or inspired by their favourite show, movie, book or musician. The past few years has seen a loyal participation by fans, sometimes even going overboard.

So, can one justify the increase in tourism due to media influence ? 


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