Protesters In Beirut Are Painting Their Faces Like Joaquin Phoenix's Joker
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Over the course of the past week, hundreds of thousands of protesters have been revolting across Beirut, the capital of Lebanon.
It was all triggered after the government introduced a controversial tax on WhatsApp voice calls, which it quickly reversed. However, the U-turn didn't extinguish the anger in the country, and as the protests have developed, the face of the the Joker has become a symbol of the demonstrations.
A protester wearing The Joker's mask in today's protests in Beirut #لبنان_ينتفض pic.twitter.com/eySDPUyGkg
- (@fade__to_black) October 18, 2019
Many protesters have been photographed with their faces painted like the clown, with walls and buildings across the city also daubed with the face of the DC Comics character.
Evidently, the recently released Joker film has struck a chord with protesters in the city, who empathise with the plight of Arthur Fleck (aka the Joker) in the hostile, fragmenting society of Gotham City.
One protester said that by adopting the clown face, people in Beirut were intending to mirror Fleck's transformation from nothing to something.
According to Wired, the unnamed woman said: "The reason we painted our faces is because we related to the character in the movie. Because before he painted his face he was just living that miserable life.
"Nobody cared about him, nobody would listen to him. He's upset, he's angry, and it just drove him to madness and that's what's happening [in Lebanon]."
Joker joined the protests in #Lebanon #protest #Protestas #BeirutProtests #beirut #LebaneseTakeOver #لبنان_ينتفض #joker #thenewjoker #jokermovie pic.twitter.com/957blLRQqy
- Ken (@Saiftion) October 19, 2019
Sari Hanafi, professor of sociology and chair of the department of sociology, anthropology and media studies at the American University of Beirut, told Wired that the clown masks also hold a practical purpose too.
He said: "The important idea is to hide the face when swearing against some important politician such as [Hezbollah leader] Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah. Now why Joker? This is simply the artistic way of doing demonstration in Lebanon - it is always done in a creative way and this is part of it."
Beirut'ta Joker tarafindan karsilandik. pic.twitter.com/cZC3UcINlp
- Canergb (@canergb) October 19, 2019
Schools, universities and offices have been closed during the protests, with underlying frustration with corruption and economic inequality driving the public on since the WhatsApp tax was withdrawn.
But despite initial violent clashes, there is a feeling among some of the public that the protests have had a positive effect on their society.
Protester, Christian Manachi, told the BBC: "For the first time ever there is real unity in the country and not a fake one like we've seen before.
"People are realising that a Christian living in extreme poverty is no different from a Sunni or Shia living in extreme poverty."