Warner Bros. Will Not Remove Controversial Song From Joker


Joker caused an awful lot of pearl-clutching for a film that turned out to be a progressive examination of cuts to mental health services and the impact of austerity politics. Fears that it would inspire a wave of clown-themed mass shootings in theaters proved baseless, as did the ludicrous concern that it would foment some kind of ‘incel uprising.’ But one aspect of the movie that has proved genuinely controversial is one of its music choices.

In a key scene in the final act, Joaquin Phoenix’s Arthur Fleck has finally donned his Joker makeup and proceeds to dance down the concrete steps he trudged up and down before. Soundtracking this is Gary Glitter’s “Rock and Roll Part 2.” Known popularly as the ‘Hey!’ song and traditionally played at sporting events, it’s a catchy little number.

It’s also written and performed by a thrice convicted pedophile and serial child abuser. Real name Paul Gadd, Glitter was once a beloved figure in the 1970s glam rock scene, but has now become one of the most hated people in Britain and is currently serving a 16-year prison sentence for child abuse.

I’m British, and I when I saw the film on opening night a visible shudder went through the audience at the sounds of Glitter’s music. Too many bad associations. Almost immediately, there was a campaign to get the song removed from the movie, arguing that it was not right that Glitter profit from the film’s success. But now, Warner Bros., having pointed out that Glitter sold the master recordings and publishing rights to the tune many years ago, have said they won’t remove the song and that it’ll remain on the soundtrack and in all future versions of the pic.

While I’m relieved that Glitter isn’t making any money out of Joker, it’s still very a discordant moment. Perhaps most international audiences will hear it and not care, but US and British viewers will always be thinking of a convicted predatory pedophile at that moment. But, if that’s what Warner Bros. want they have every right to keep it in.

Source: THR