Movies & TV

Joker's Most Pivotal Scene Features a Song By a Convicted Pedophile

The film includes a scene of Joaquin Phoenix's character dancing to Gary Glitter's "Rock and Roll Part 2."
IMAGE Warner Bros. Pictures
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Despite being one of the most controversial films of the year, Joker broke box office records over its weekend, earning $96 million and the best October debut ever. But the movie's sparked another controversy since its release, due to the fact that it features a song by glam rocker Gary Glitter, who in recent decades has received multiple criminal convictions for child pornography and pedophilia.

Glitter, whose real name is Paul Gadd, had a string of hits in the 1970s and is a household name in his native Britain. And while he may not be as famous stateside, “Rock and Roll Part 2,” the song that was featured in Joker, made it to the US Top 10 in 1972 and became a popular sports stadium anthem. In the Todd Phillips-directed film, Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker dances to the song while making his way down a long flight of stairs after fully embracing his murderous impulses.

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In 1997, Glitter was discovered to be in possession of child pornography. He fled to Vietnam, where he was accused of abusing pre-teen girls. After serving prison time in that nation, he returned to the UK, where he was once again convicted of assaulting young girls. He’s currently serving a 16-year-long prison sentence.

It’s hard to say just how much money—if any—the convicted child abuser will make from his song’s use in Joker. According to CNBC, Glitter is "thought to be in line for music royalties depending on the success of movie theater ticket sales, DVD sales and film soundtrack sales.” While some outlets have wagered that Glitter could make hundreds of thousands of dollars from the deal, he could also have made a far smaller sum—particularly given the fact that a jail cell on the Isle of Portland isn’t exactly a strong negotiating position.

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It’s the latest in a string of controversies for Joker, which has been accused of lionizing its protagonist, a violent and disaffected man who bears similarities to real-life mass killers responsible for horrific crimes. Thankfully, the violence that some feared the film could inspire hasn’t come to pass. But the Glitter controversy is an indication that Joker’s creators were potentially willing to overlook the real-world consequences that can spring even from works of fiction.

This story originally appeared on Esquire.comMinor edits have been made by the Esquiremag.ph editors.

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