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 royies 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?
Related: Credible Joker Movie Threat Shuts Down Theater in Huntington Beach, CA
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 royies 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.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
— Darren Mooney @Darren_Mooney October 1, 2019
I’m of two minds about this, to be frank. On one level, the film’s provocations are deliberately juvenile, bordering in on trollish.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
With large swathes of the population sitting at home, audiences have a chance to catch up on films that were released years ago and find new insights into their narrative. Recently, a fan who had been watching Suicide Squad with his family reached out to the film's director David Ayer to ask about the meaning behind the scene where the Joker is lying in the middle of a room lined with a circle of knives, guns, and baby clothes. Denying that the baby onesies were trophies after an infanticide spree on the part of the cackling psychopath, Ayer provided the following explanation for the scene instead.
'No it's more innocent. Harley wanted a normal family with Joker hence the baby in her vision. I figured she would have endlessly pestered Mr. J about having a kid. So he had Mr. Frost buy some onesies. The circle represents how he sees Harley.'
The scene under discussion comes up early in the story. Harley Quinn, played by Margot Robbie, is locked up in Arkham, and we see Joker, played by Jared Leto, in his mansion mourning her absence. He has also shown to have drawn a grin across his face using a sharpie, which according to David Ayer, is because...
'He was having a hard time smiling without Harley so gave himself some help with a sharpie.'
This introduction sets up the fact that this Joker is unlike any other live-action portrayal of the supervillain as a man who is missing his demon lover. The onesies we see lined up on the floor next to the Joker later make an appearance in the scene where the Enchantress offers Harley her heart's desire, and she imagines a life of domestic bliss with her beloved Mistah J, with their babies wearing the onesies.
How the circle of knives represents Harley in the mind of the Joker is up for debate. Perhaps he fears that his affection for Harley makes her dangerous to him, and thus views her as a circle of knives drawing closer, threatening to destroy him.
This sentiment of Joker being attracted towards Harley and simultaneously hating the fact that she has made him care for her is also played out in the scene where Harley willingly throws herself into a pit of acid on Joker's command. After trying to walk away from the whole thing, Joker almost unwillingly jumps in after her and rescues her, proving that she means more to him than he can bring himself to admit.
From his explanation, it is clear that Ayer had a solid backstory and reasoning behind the script for Suicide Squad, which unfortunately did not translate very well to the big screen. But now that James Gunn has taken over directorial duties on the sequel, there is a chance to see a Suicide Squad film that gets critical acclaim in addition to minting money at the box office. David Ayer on Twitter brings us this news.