“Symbol” in protests is a sign that represents a common ideology or concept, and for a group of protesters with the same demands, it has a deeper meaning. This sign is chosen to incite people.
The effect of the symbol is so strong that it can be used as a weapon for years. Many countries try to symbolize and then incite citizens to undermine their rivals.
It should be noted that the symbol does not cause a protest, but it serves as a means to control it.
In recent decades, "color revolutions" have been one of the U.S. tools for interfering in other countries’ affairs, in which the use of symbols has been widely practiced. This type of revolutions are one of soft subversion’s methods that includes a kind of power transformation and displacement, coupled with negative struggle and civil disobedience.
This method was mainly used for the Soviet countries in Central and Eastern Europe, Central Asia and the Caucasus. Although the method failed in many cases after its initial success, it worked well in removing barriers by the American hegemony.
On the other hand, a general assessment of using such a method showed that the color revolutions usually failed to complete the subversion project, and the desired result was not achieved, so the Western countries changed their attitude toward the protesters in their rival countries.
Joker is the name of a character formerly known as an anti-hero in the Batman story, and in most of the past stories had an unknown identity, though he was previously known as a "popular criminal" by audience.
Recently, a movie was made about the life if a “Joker” and why he became a criminal, which changed the way that audience connect to this anti-hero.
The “Joker” movie tells the story of a poor man who lives with his mother and has to play the role of a clown for the rest of his life.
Suffering from “pseudobulbar affect” disorder, Joker hopes to become a famous comedian to make people laugh. However, being constant rejection and humiliation, along with the immense corruption of the community he lives in, change his life and eventually turn him into a professional murderer with a tendency to uncontrollable chaos.
He only triggers chaos without any plans and sheds blood without trial. The people of Gotham (his hometown), who are victims of class distinctions and discrimination just like the Joker, follow his lead and take into streets. The rioters rob shops, set public places on fire, commit crimes and kill rulers.
As the movie was opened at the same time as uprisings in the West Asian region, some analysts suggest that the movie aimed at symbolizing and training protesters in these countries. Although this matter does not mean that the Joker movie staged the protests in these countries, the violence accompanied the protests and the killings by the demonstrators suggest that there is a will to derail popular protests against shortcomings and discrimination.
In other words, the Joker's role here is to "justify" the violence, and it seems that after failing in the peaceful conflicts, this time the enemy's plan is to agitate and justify the protests by using new symbolization.
For example, the current events in Iraq have in fact risen from symbolism. Protesters who are rightly frustrated by the country’s situation, kill their innocent compatriots and take a photo with his hanging body, describing their tough living conditions as justification for these brutal crimes.
The interesting point is that the protesters used the Joker mask and image, which reveals their identification with the character.
Some experts believe that the potential to lead people in expressing their objections was considered in the characterization of this anti-hero since the Joker was already a popular character and it was predictable that the movie would be welcomed.
Therefore, it appears that the imperialist domination (the hegemony) has reached a model in using different approaches to overthrow the political systems that opposed it, within the framework of soft subversion theories. It assumes that if the model is carried out properly, it can complete other scenarios to transform ruling systems in those countries.
Compared to the previous difficult approaches, if launching soft subversion projects could have made a significant stride in removing obstacles to the U.S. hegemony, in the next step “color” symbol had turned into a “live” symbol.