The ‘Joker’ stairs have been taken over by Instagrammers — and locals aren’t laughing

Click to play video: 'Infamous ‘Joker’ stairs overrun by photo-hungry fans in New York' Infamous ‘Joker’ stairs overrun by photo-hungry fans in New York
WATCH: Tourists are flocking to the real-life staircase featured in an iconic scene from the ‘Joker’ movie. However, residents of the real-life Bronx neighbourhood are not happy with the sudden attention – Oct 24, 2019

When you’re smiling, the whole world smiles with you — except when you’re smiling for an Instagram photo atop the newly minted “Joker stairs” in New York City.

READ MORE: ‘Joker’ review — Joaquin Phoenix shines, but movie sends the wrong message

Hordes of selfie-takers have descended upon a downtrodden Bronx neighbourhood to recreate a scene from the Joker film in which the titular character dances down a monumentally long staircase in clown makeup. The scene comes shortly after Joaquin Phoenix‘s character, Arthur Fleck, completes his transformation into the Clown Prince of Crime.

However, many locals say they’re not amused by all the selfie-seekers turning their hard-luck neighbourhood into a backdrop for Instagram — especially when these people simply show up for a photo and leave.

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“Get out!” one woman can be heard shouting at people on the stairs in an expletive-filled video posted to Instagram on Monday. The woman, who identified herself as a local resident, later shared a photo condemning the Joker fans who were taking pictures on the steps.

“My poverty is not your photoshoot,” a cartoon Joker says in a speech bubble with the photo.

Another video posted on Monday shows dozens of people posing on the stairs for photos. Some are dressed as the Joker. Others have brought tripods to capture their photos.

The video sparked a passionate conversation about gentrification on Twitter.

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“Holy gentrification Batman,” one user wrote.

“Stairs where people get robbed and murdered,” user @Flawws wrote. “But OK let’s romanticize some stairs in the hood because ‘Joker made it cool,’ but they wouldn’t dare step in that neighbourhood any other day.”

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🎬🤡 @jokermovie @toddphillips1

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Joker is set in fictional Gotham City, but director Todd Phillips went to great lengths to characterize that city as a rough-and-tumble reflection of 1980s New York. That meant shooting the film in some of NYC’s more impoverished neighbourhoods, including Highbridge, where the stairs are located between Shakespeare and Anderson avenues.

Click to play video: 'Final trailer for ‘Joker’ released' Final trailer for ‘Joker’ released
Final trailer for ‘Joker’ released – Aug 28, 2019

Highbridge is where rapper Cardi B grew up. It’s also one of the most dangerous neighbourhoods in New York. Publicly accessible city data shows the risk of getting murdered in Highbridge is 10 per cent higher than the national average, while the risk of robbery is 48 per cent higher than the average.

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Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a Democrat who represents parts of the Bronx and Queens, told TMZ she remembers the Highbridge stairs from her childhood.

“When I was growing up, everyone would tell us to stay away from those steps or go with a friend,” she said.

“Keep your Instagram posts outside of the Boogie Down,” she added, using a nickname for the Bronx. “This is for us.”

Highbridge resident Jonathan Francis, 29, told The Gothamist that the selfie-takers are creating problems for locals in the area, many of whom don’t like being treated like an Instagram backdrop.

“We feel disrespected,” Francis told the publication. “We hope it ends soon because we don’t need this.”

READ MORE: 'Joker' movie criticized for using song from convicted pedophile Gary Glitter in stairs scene

A sign posted near the stairs shows a photo of the Joker with a red “X” over it.

“It is disrespectful to treat our community and residents as a photo opportunity for your social media and ‘it’ moment,” the sign says. “This is real life, not a movie and we’re not Jokin’.”

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This morning i woke up as #kiariladyjoker🤡🃏 and decided to go take some shots at those stairs in the Bronx where a scene of the movie Joker was shot. YouTube video will follow up in the next days, i can’t wait to show you priceless reactions of people around the city! . What do you think of the movie?! Masterpiece in my opinion and Joaquin Phoenix the best of the best💯 ••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• 📸 @newyorkloveny Thank you @manuspa to trigger the idea and @chalachinar for the make up on point👌💄 ••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• @jokermovie @toddphillips1

A post shared by NYC Brand Ambassador🤸🏻‍♀️ (@kiariladyboss) on

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Local artist Brayan Feliz says he’s discouraged by the visitors’ behaviour, saying they don’t seem to be bringing any business into Highbridge. They show up, take a photo and hop back in their Ubers to leave the neighbourhood, he says.

“It is not just selfies and hashtags,” he told The Gothamist. “Understand that people live in those places and that just you taking a picture is going to have an impact in that community.”

Ruben Diaz Jr., president of the Bronx borough, encouraged visitors to bring their business to Highbridge if they’re going to stop in for a selfie.

Steven Gomez, who lives in one of the apartments overlooking the stairs, says he simply doesn’t understand it.

“I don’t see what the hype is about,” he said. “You want to come all the way from downtown to take pictures of some stairs?”

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