A clip from Zack Snyder’s new Justice League cut is proof that we do, in fact, live in a society.
The quote “We live in a society” has often been misattributed to the Joker, Gotham’s Head Clown and Batman’s longstanding enemy. In the DC Universe, the Joker is a sardonic villain who is almost proud of his departure from the public and all of the trappings of societal expectations.
Though he never canonically said it until now, the phrase “We live in a society” was wildly popular among those who felt that they, too, were ostracized. These self-declared social rejects not only celebrated their otherness, but also mocked those who were still “in” with the rest of society as sheep. According to this edgy Joker fan logic, those who broke away from the collective were innately better than those who stayed.
And as with most edgelord thought, the meme backfired. Instead of praising them as philosophical gods, society used the meme to ridicule those who thought they were being deep. The meme returned with force in 2018 when trailers for Joker dropped. Internet users began replying to fake-profound statements with “We live in a society,” or pairing the phrase with otherwise innocuous images as a Dadaist non sequitur.
The meme inspired a Change.org petition asking Warner Brothers to make Joaquin Phoenix say “We live in a society” in Joker. The petition, which has more than 58,000 signatures, proposes that the Joker watches a kid playing Fortnite on his phone in a restaurant juxtaposed against his grandfather reading a book.
“He [the Joker] looks at them and says, ‘Damn, we live in a society,” the petition reads. “He may say this line as he looks into the camera thus breaking the 4th wall.”
We may never get that version of the Joker, but the trailer for the four hour recut of Justice League does in fact make “We live in a society” canon. The trailer, released Sunday, includes of clip of Jared Leto’s Joker pontificating: “We live in a society, where honor is a distant memory.”
And after years of using the phrase to dunk on performative intellectuals, Twitter was overjoyed.
It’s confirmed, folks. We live in a society.