Joker has sparked a bigger social debate than most films that have come along in the last few years, and still managed to generate record-breaking box office numbers, despite that fact. The controversy over the film's treatment of the story of a mentally ill man who becomes an infamous clown-faced killer was predictable; however, few viewers probably realized that one of the most infamous parts of Joker was actually its soundtrack. The scene of Joaquin Phoenix's Joker dancing down a flight of stairs has already become a viral meme sensation - but the music playing over that scene, "Rock and Roll Part 2" by Gary Glitter, is now getting serious backlash!
As THR reports, viewers of Joker have taken to Twitter to make some big noise about the fact that the film uses "Rock and Roll Part 2", as Gary Glitter is currently doing a 16-year prison stretch for attempted rape, four counts of indecent assault, and one count of having sex with a girl under the age of 13. Glitter was first plunged into controversy in the 1990s, after the British glam rock star was caught downloading child pornography; he was finally convicted in 2015 and sentenced to be incarcerated for more than a decade and a half.
Reaction on social media has been mixed. As is often the case with Joker, half of viewers seem to be taking offense to the film's dark and scathing view of society, including the idea that it is lining the pockets of a real-life monster:
"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 bullsh*t. 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 bullsh*t." --@ManvsPink
...The other half of viewers maintain that everything in Joker - including the very conspicuously odd use of "Rock and Roll Part 2" is all part of "The Joke" that is Todd Phillips scathing social satire subtext:
"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."
If nothing else, the now-famous "Joker Stairway Scene" is meant to be a gross celebration of a demented transformation. The scene come after Arthur has brutally murdered a former co-worker, and this "victory dance" is only happy and celebratory in Arthur's mind - a fantasy quickly, and awkwardly interrupted by the arrival of the police who are pursuing him. In that sense, a song with deeply disturbing realities hidden behind its pop-culture face may indeed be a wholly intentional choice by Phillips, for better or worse.
Joker is now in theaters. Upcoming DC Movies include Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) on February 7, 2020, Wonder Woman 1984 on June 5, 2020, The Batman on June 25, 2021, The Suicide Squad on August 6, 2021, and Aquaman 2 on December 16, 2020.
Disclosure: ComicBook is owned by CBS Interactive, a division of ViacomCBS.