Sometimes the measure of how deeply a film has hit the popular culture aren't the box office receipts or the number of articles and think pieces written about it, but the way elements from the film become viral sensations and turn into tourist hotspots. That's the case when it comes to the Todd Phillips-directed Joker. The stairs Joaquin Phoenix's Arthur Fleck dances down with Gary Glitter's "Rock and Roll Part 2" playing in the background has now become a major tourist attraction in New York leading to a flood of photos on Instagram in which fans put their own spin on the scene.
As noted by CNN, there's been a significant uptick in visitors to the newly iconic stairs -- which connect Shakespeare and Anderson avenues at West 167th Street in the Bronx. It's led to a bit of grumbling from residents (Desus Nice of Showtime's Desus & Mero tweeted about the influx of tourists), but it might not be a bad thing from an economic standpoint. As the report notes, the Bronx isn't usually a major tourist attraction for visitors to New York City despite Yankee Stadium, the Bronx Zoo, and the New York Botanical Gardens being located there. If visitors are coming to locate the "Joker Stairs" for their Instagram shots, they're much more likely to be exploring other areas as well as businesses in the area as well.
As for those visitors to the "Joker Stairs", a quick look at the "jokerstairs" hashtag on Instagram reveals a wide variety of images, with some people reenacting the scene while others simply post on the stairs. Some are even going full cosplay for their images, including this incredible series by photographer Ray H. Mercado.
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As for another element of the infamous staircase dance scene, it's not just the stairs that have been getting a bit of attention. So has "Rock and Roll Part 2", albeit for less than positive ones. The use of the song has sparked a bit of controversy due to the legal issues surrounding Glitter. The UK glam rocker was convicted of multiple sex crimes against children in 2015 and sentenced to 16 years in prison. This led many to some upset at the prospect that Glitter might be profiting off of the use of his song in Joker, though Snapper Music, the company that owns Glitter's catalog, has since clarified (via Consequence of Sound) that the musician does not get paid from or receive any profits from the song's use.
"Update: A representative for Snapper Music, which owns the rights to Glitter's catalog in the UK, disputes reporting that Glitter will receive any profits from the song's use. 'Gary Glitter does not get paid,' a representative told the Los Angeles Times. 'We've had no contact with him.' Nevertheless, the New York Post reports that Warner Bros. may remove the song from future releases."
Joker is now in theaters. Upcoming DC Movies include Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) on February 7, 2020, Wonder Woman 1984 on June 5, 2020, The Batman on June 25, 2021, The Suicide Squad on August 6, 2021, and Aquaman 2 on December 16, 2020.