The ‘Joker’ and the (real) stance against inequality and injustice

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The Joker is real.  Or is it? Considering the recent protests around the world, from Bolivia to Chile to Lebanon, where many protesters are donning Joker-like face painting to claim justice and equality against repressive regimes, politics, and policies, it seems that the Joker has come to be a symbol of resistance in each of these countries that are mired by political corruption and hegemonic policies against the poor, weak, and marginalised. I ask a Chilean friend, who has recently returned to Chile after completing her PhD in the UK, if there’s any connection between the Joker and the unrest in Chile. ‘I think there is’, she says firmly. ‘People needed something to look up to and in the Joker they’ve found some inspiration’, adds my friend.

The Joker has come to be a symbol of resistance in each of these countries that are mired by political corruption and hegemonic policies against the poor, weak, and marginalised

With this argument in mind, this narrative aims to juxtapose symbolism from a Hollywood character with the recent social movements against inequality and injustice to draw a parallel between the struggles of the misfit Joker in the Gotham City and anxious citizens in cities around the world.

In the movie the Joker has drawn a lot of attention to demented and implicit killings. But intellectual thought has also been associated with the Joker’s motives and killings, although not always justified. Social malaise in societies claims to be the essence of what the Joker resists in the form of a dysfunctional yet celebrated villain, one who is perhaps powerless to change the system but is capable enough to draw sympathy for the weak and powerless in the society.

During the recent protests in Bolivia, Chile, and Lebanon many protesters have been inspired by the Joker to show their resistance against inept functions and functionalities to combat uneven social issues and violence. These functions are used against them by powerful and dictator-like governments to not only clamour for more power (often in the guise of nationalism) but also to embolden their authoritarian claim to protect the power of the powerful.

Many protesters have been inspired by the Joker

In Chile, the protests erupted in October over the rise of the metro fare. The issue of the increased metro fare was a trigger against a social-economic inequity that has slowly built up not just as a result of neoliberal market economy but also despite its growth and practice for the last 40 years. Among the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries, Chile is one of the top countries with highest income inequality, according to a BBC report. Years of social inequity and inequality between the rich and the poor in Chile have taken its citizens to the limit.

‘There’s a huge discontent among the people in Chile with politics and corruption’, says a Postgraduate Researcher from Chile at Durham University.  ‘People are sick and tired of the neoliberal system that is unequal and represents repression’, adds the Chilean researcher.

‘The conditions in Chile are so volatile that my country may go into a civil war’, says my Chilean friend. ‘I cannot be an optimist because of all the uncertainties in Chile’, she laments, echoing the voice of the Joker, who has become discontent and agitated because of his own struggles to fit into a society that does not care for him.  As a result, all he has are the ‘negative thoughts’.

‘The conditions in Chile are so volatile that my country may go into a civil war’

Interestingly, however, the movie theatres are closed in many parts of Chile due to riots and violence and even those that are opened aren’t accessible for many by public transport.  ‘I am not sure how people are getting the idea of the Joker’, says my friend in Chile. ‘But I cannot deny the connection between the Joker and the sentiment of people against inequality’.

Image by ieshraq via Flickr and Creative Commons

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