The stairs that Joaquin Phoenix’s Arthur Fleck descends while dancing to a song written by a convicted pedophile have become a cultural hotspot following the success of Todd Phillips’ Joker. Today, in a new piece from Vulture, one writer ventured to the Bronx to see what kinds of crowds it’s drawing.
“If you’re in a sociological mood, you could say that the influx of tourists serves as a reminder of how self-reinforcing cycles of low crime and gentrification, as well as a certain internet-enabled frictionless-ness (the stairs have been tagged on Google Maps) have combined to break down notions of which urban neighborhoods are off-limits to newcomers. Instagram makes flâneurs of us all,” says the piece.
This piece isn’t the first to critique this newfound fascination. In a recent episode of their Showtime talk show Desus & Mero, Bronx natives and hosts Desus Nice and Kid Mero provided some loca context: “People have sex on those stairs all the time, dog, it ain’t sexy.”
But Vulture did speak with some of the folks who had arrived at the infamous stairs, learning about their motives. One of them was Jersey City native, who, he writes, was “decked out in full Joker regalia” that she found at the mall. She even attempted to recreate the dance, but was foiled by others demanding photos with her. Vulture also spoke to a neighborhood local who was climbing up the steps with groceries and taking in the scene. “It’s strange. I’ve been living here all my life. They’re just stairs to me,” he said. He and his friend also worried about those planning to show up on Halloween with the same intent.
We have one question: Will Jared Leto be among them?
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