For the past two weeks, hundreds of protesters have taken to the streets of Lebanon, protesting the government and Prime Minister Saad Hariri. The protests had started after the government proposed taxes on messaging apps like WhatsApp but has grown amid a set of grievances about governance in the country. Some of the issues are corruption and mismanagement; and some are the rising economic and social inequality and poor economic condition of the country. In these times, the famous DC comics super-villain, ‘Joker’, is uniting the protesters.
Filling up the streets, numerous people dressed up as Joker can be seen in the streets of Lebanon with numerous graffiti on walls across the land. Although Joker is a character which is well known among DC comics readers, but maybe its emergence as a rebel icon can be attributed to the recent release of Todd Phillips’ film ‘Joker’. The movie showcased Joker’s character sketch who, much like the protestors, also confronts a number of societal issues and ethical quandaries.
This has been seen in the past with various protests. A case in point is the Guy Fawkes mask which has become a symbol of rage against the establishment. The look conceals the identity of the person and demonstrates a commitment to a shared cause. The look was made popular after the release of the 2005 film, ‘V for Vendetta’ which is based on another comic book character V. V fights the dictatorial government and eventually overthrows the establishment after he convinces people that they are being oppressed. Guy Fawkes or Guido Fawkes was a member of a group of provincial English Catholics who planned the failed Gunpowder Treason Plot of 1605, to assassinate the then Catholic King in England, attacking the Parliament.
Not just in Lebanon, numerous people in the protests in Chile also painted their face like Joker.
According to various tweets by the protesters, “Joker has become a symbol of fight against injustice and corruption”. Protesters have made parallels between Beirut and the fictional Gotham city in the comic book. Gotham city is infamous for high crime rates and injustice.
People are painting their face like Joker because Joker symbolises a revolutionary against the 1% of wealthy people enslaving the majority of the population and controlling them, said a protester.
The growing inequality between the rich and the poor is growing in the world and, with that, people are rising up too. Joker and V may be mere fictional characters for most people but they also represent a symbol of rebellion to many.