Despite all of its acclaim and record-setting financial success, Joker has been at the center of controversy for months now. The latest scandal revolves around the fact that a prominent song featured in the movie was written and recorded by a convicted pedophile.
“Rock and Roll Part 2” is played during a crucial scene where the protagonist finally becomes the titular antihero. The track, which runs for about two minutes, comes from an artist known as Gary Glitter, whose reprehensible actions currently find him behind bars.
Following massive success early on in his career, Glitter’s fall from grace began in the late 1990s. He was arrested in 1997 and convicted in 1999 in the United Kingdom for downloading thousands of items of child pornography. He was simultaneously charged with having sexual activity with an underage girl in the 1970s, though he was later acquitted for the crime.
This conviction led to a barrage of other charges and deportations in connection with actual and suspected child sexual abuse over the years, including (but not limited to):
- Deportation from Cambodia on suspected child sexual abuse charges in 2002.
- Being found guilty in Vietnamese court for obscene acts with minors in 2006.
- Deportation from Vietnam after his sentence.
- Being placed on the United Kingdom’s Sex Offenders’ Register for life.
- Being arrested again in October of 2012 for historical child sex offenses.
- Being found guilty of attempted rape, four counts of indecent assault, and one of having sex with a girl under the age of 13 between 1975 and 1980.
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Glitter is currently in the midst of a sixteen year prison sentence that started in 2015. Despite this, those involved with Joker still thought it would be a good idea to feature one of his songs during one the most important sequences in the film. To make matters even worse, the 75-year-old sex offender will receive a lump sum of royalties from the hit movie.
For a flick that uses child abuse as a plot device, the musical choice is questionable at best. It’s hard to believe that director Todd Phillips was unaware of Glitter’s deplorable past, so maybe he decided to use the song in Joker in an attempt to rile up those who participate in “woke culture.” Either way, this isn’t a good look for an Oscar hopeful that’s already received its fair share of backlash.