Todd Phillips's choice to use convicted pedophile Gary Glitter's music in Joker has caused further backlash. "Rock and Roll Part 2" is shown during a pivotal scene in the movie where Arthur Fleck makes his transformation into the Clown Prince of Crime. The song, which was written in and recorded in 1972, was written by Glitter and producer Mike Leander and was used at sporting events all over the world for nearly 30 years. However, that all changed once Glitter's legal problems became public news.
"Rock and Roll Part 2" is mostly instrumental and is used as Joaquin Phoenix's Arthur Fleck dances down some stairs after his transformation. A number of songs could have been used in this portion of Joker and this choice almost seems to be a direct troll from director Todd Phillips, who had to have known it would cause some controversy. The main point of contention is that it is believed Gary Glitter, aka Paul Gadd, will receive a lump sum of royalties from the hit movie using a decent portion of his song. In addition, the movie uses child abuse as a plot device, making the song choice even more questionable.
Gary Glitter was arrested in the late 1990s for downloading child pornography. In 2015, Glitter was found guilty of attempted rape, four counts of indecent assault, and one count of having sex with a girl under the age of 13. He was sentenced to 16 years in prison. It's at this point that "Rock and Roll Part 2" was taken out of sports events from around the world. It was used heavily in the NHL and NFL in North America, but it was later phased out completely. So why did Todd Phillips use it?
Most critics of Joker are angry over the fact that a convicted pedophile will receive money from the successful movie. One critic calls the song choice the "most morally questionable" aspect of the movie as a whole. It seems that Todd Phillips was fully aware of this when making the movie and used it to his advantage to spark outrage within the movie and in the real-world. At this point it's hard not to think of Phillips' directorial debut, which is a documentary on the life of notorious punk rock musician GG Allin, who took everything to extremes and made it his life goal to kill himself on stage (he later died of a heroin overdose after a show).
GG Allin was and is a controversial figure and one can easily see his punk rock influence all over Joker. But, is the use of Gary Glitter's "Rock and Roll Part 2" just a childish trolling on the part of Todd Phillips? The director has yet to speak out about the song choice and there are more than a few questions surrounding it. Maybe the director will discuss the situation now that the movie is out in theaters and people have taken notice. Warner Bros. also has not commented on the song choice.
Whatever my mixed feelings about Joker, director Todd Phillips using a track by child abuser Gary Glitter over a key scene - in a film that uses child abuse as a plot device no less - is absolute bullshit— Man vs Pink (@ManVsPink) October 6, 2019
Gary Glitter gets royalties for Joker. They're literally paying a paedophile to use his music in a movie about the consequences of child abuse. I'm off the fence - this movie is immoral bullshit.— Man vs Pink (@ManVsPink) October 6, 2019
Outrage is a currency both within and outside the film, “Joker” consciously dancing up to the line and stopping short.— Darren Mooney (@Darren_Mooney) October 1, 2019
Hell, the film features a conversation about whether the character belongs in mass media in the (film’s) current frought political climate. pic.twitter.com/2nGCduASkC
I’m of two minds about this, to be frank. On one level, the film’s provocations are deliberately juvenile, bordering in on trollish.— Darren Mooney (@Darren_Mooney) October 1, 2019
In actuality, the most morally questionable aspect of the film is the use of a Gary Glitter song, and the film is well aware of this. pic.twitter.com/h25dHrc4js