Convicted sex offender Gary Glitter thankfully won’t get royalties the use of one of his songs in Joker. The recently released, highly anticipated Todd Phillips film has had no shortage of rave reviews as of late, but controversy has also followed it every step of the way.
Joaquin Phoenix, who plays the film’s lead role of Arthur Fleck/the Joker, physically altered himself by losing 52 pounds, and talk of a potential best actor Oscar victory has been a big topic since the film’s initial buzz. But other kinds of buzz has also been following Joker, some of which has been critical of the film’s portrayal of violence and vengeance, as well as its potential for real-world, copycat violence. In fact, just as it seemed that some of the biggest concerns surrounding the film had abated since its release, more controversy always appears just around the corner. In this case, it was the song that Phoenix’s character dances to during the film, which was co-written and performed by convicted pedophile, Gary Glitter.
The song, Rock n’ Roll Part 2, set off an ample amount of concern and criticism as many took its inclusion in the film to mean that Glitter (who's currently serving a 16-year prison sentence), would be collecting royalties for its use. Some even took to calling for a boycott of Joker, citing the dubious moral proposition of financially aiding a convicted sex offender by seeing the film. The L.A. Times, however, has now reported that Glitter will see no royalties from the film, and that those concerned about supporting the imprisoned former pop star by going to see Joker need not worry. Said a spokesman for Snapper Music – the U.K. company that holds the legal rights to Glitter’s master recordings: “Gary Glitter does not get paid. We’ve had no contact with him.” As for the U.S., rights holder Universal Media Publishing Group made a similar statement: "Gary Glitter’s publishing interest in the copyright of his songs is owned by UMPG and other parties, therefore UMPG does not pay him any royalties or other considerations."
The recent controversy surrounding the film stems from when Rock n’ Roll Part 2 is played while Phoenix dances down a staircase, adorned in full clown make-up. The song has had a lengthy history prior to its inclusion in Joker, having also been included in such notable Hollywood hits as Meet the Fockers, Boyhood and Kingpin, as well as TV series such as South Park, The Office and Sex and the City. Oddly enough, despite the considerable number of soundtracks that this song, as well as other Glitter songs, has appeared on, Joker is the first to receive such staunch criticism. What’s more, Rock n’ Roll Part 2 has been a ubiquitous anthem at sporting events for years, long after Glitter was first found to be in possession of child pornography in 1997. The fact that critics are only now becoming offended by the song’s inclusion onscreen suggests that Joker can’t seem to do anything without receiving stern moral judgement.
Still, for all its problems and obstacles along the way, Joker’s success doesn’t appear to have been hindered in the least. The film is well on its way to becoming one of the biggest hits of 2019, and while Oscar nominations certainly aren’t guaranteed, Phoenix has managed to captivate as well as polarize audiences to such a degree that it’s clear there’s really something to his performance. Hopefully, the inclusion of Glitter’s song is the last controversy that will be foisted upon Joker, but given its rather dark subject matter and history, that might be asking too much.
Source: L.A. Times
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