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Joker stairs become tourist attraction and Bronx residents are furious

Joker, staircase, Highbridge, Todd Phillips

It's been an exhausting couple of weeks for residents of the Bronx, thanks largely to the wide-release of Todd Phillips' JOKER. In the film, Joaquin Phoenix’s Arthur Fleck eventually emerges as the Joker, and celebrates his newfound identity by dancing on a set of stairs to Gary Glitter’s “Rock and Roll Part 2”. The now-iconic stairs, located in the Highbridge neighborhood of the New York City borough the Bronx, have since become a major tourist attraction, much to the dismay of nearby residents.

“We hope it ends soon because we don’t need this,” said Jonathan Francis, a 29-year-old who has lived in the neighborhood his entire life. “We feel disrespected.” While continuing to speak about the ongoing invasion, Francis told Gothamist that his neighbors are finding it difficult to get to work, as the stairs are a key element of their traditional route. Residents of the area have even gone so far as to hang posters on lampposts and walls, urging those who're there to take photos to find another location for "the Gram." The posters read: “It is disrespectful to treat our community and residents as a photo opportunity.”

As the popularity of Phillips' JOKER film continues to grow, so does the amount of Cosplayers and randos who've chosen to visit the Highbirdge area. At first, you'd think that perhaps an increase of traffic to the area would boost local sales and serve as a boon to the community. Unfortunately, reports indicate that many who visit the stairs are only looking to snap their photos and nothing more. In other words, they Uber to the location, bust out their wicked Joker dance moves, and move on.

“Understand that it is not just selfies and hashtags,” said Brayan Feliz, an artist and designer who grew up just blocks from the staircase. “Understand that people live in those places and that just you taking a picture is gonna have an impact in that community.”

It's to be hoped that the JOKER hype will die down sooner rather than later. After all, the staircase is a major foot traffic area for Highbridge residents, and they don't take too kindly to clowns clogging up their work routes. It stands to reason that, before long, JOKER fans will have to find some other method of recreating Arthur's emergence from scorned sociopath to serial killing clown. Perhaps a fancy green screen can alleviate the issue? Authenticity be damned and so forth.

What do you think of this situation? Do you think the "tourists" have just as much right to use the stairs as the Highbridge residents? Or should local officials post officers at the scene until the fad dies down? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

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Source: Gothamist

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