When the final trailer for Zack Snyder’s Justice League launched on Sunday, there was so much zipping around that one could be forgiven for having a bit of a delayed reaction. From Henry Cavill‘s grunting Superman to a clear look at the tyrannical ruler of Apokolips, Darkseid, Zack Snyder‘s images can overwhelm the senses. Dialogue sometimes takes a back seat.
But listen closely at the very end, when we hear a voice (later to be revealed as Jared Leto‘s Joker) speaking to Ben Affleck‘s Batman. That’s right, Joker begins his rant with the words, “we live in a society. . .”
This is, for the very online, hilarious.
The phrase “we live in a society” has been a Joker-related meme for years, but the phrase (or, at least, a close proximity of it) goes back to 1991. That’s when the Seinfeld episode The Chinese Restaurant aired. This second season episode (cementing the “show about nothing” concept for many) featured George Costanza dealing with the indignity of someone grabbing a pay phone that he’d been waiting to use. Let’s let Jason Alexander take it from here.
This video, according to the folks at KnowYourMeme, began making its way to gamer message boards and reddit threads in 2017. At the same time, some tongue-in-cheek images of the Joker with text arguing that “gamers make better lovers” started gaining popularity. (We’re giving them the benefit of the doubt by calling them tongue-in-cheek. It’s a little bit hard to know.)
The two memes collided in 2018 when someone created an online petition for force Warner Bros. to “Make Joaquin Phoenix say ‘We live in a society’ in the new Joker film.” Close to 59,000 people signed it.
At this point, the phrase “we live in a society” and The Joker were linked, even though, like Rick Blaine and “play it again, Sam,” it was not something he actually said.
“We Live In A Society” has since grown into something of a catch-all meme for many things, particularly when pointing out that one thing is more popular than another thing. Sometimes it is when the first thing should be more popular (like SpongeBob SquarePants versus a regular sponge), but it can also be used in an in-quotes manner to point out that something uncool is more popular. (It’s confusing. This is like trying to explain “no soap, radio.”)
Anyway, hearing The Joker use the phrase in the Justice League trailer, even if it was just the first clause of a larger sentence, naturally sent Twitter into a tailspin.
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