The amount of controversy surrounding Todd Phillips's Joker is getting absurd. It feels like every day brings on a fresh barrage of criticism and bad press: Joker is a rallying cry for violent incels; Joker prompts the FBI to issue warnings about threats of terrorism at its screenings; Joker sparks backlash from the families of those killed at the Aurora shooting in 2012; Joker is, after all that drama, just a terrible movie.
Now that it's finally out, you'd think the storm surrounding it might finally calm, and we could all get back to talking about literally anything else—but nope! Because we are doomed to discuss this thing for the next 1,000 years, the film has managed to dredge up yet another controversy.
Phillips and company decided to set a pivotal scene, in which Joaquin Phoenix's villain dances down a set of stairs, to the tune of "Rock 'n' Roll (Part 2)" by Gary Glitter. But Glitter—whose real name is Paul Gadd—is a convicted pedophile, who's currently serving out a 16-year prison sentence for abusing three underage girls.
Gadd could wind up earning a huge chunk of cash in royalties from the film, CNBC reports. It's unclear how much he actually stands to make—while some outlets have reported figures in the millions, it's likely a lot less than that—but regardless, the optics aren't great. Not only are Phillips and Warner Bros. giving money to a convicted sex offender, but because his windfall reportedly depends (in part) on the success of the movie, buying a ticket to Joker could result in him taking home a bigger paycheck.
Maybe Warner Bros. didn't realize Gadd was a serial abuser, but all it takes is a two-minute search on the guy to see he's currently locked up for attempted rape, having sex with a girl under 13, and four counts of indecent assault. That's not to mention the time he served in Vietnam for abusing two underage girls, or his other conviction in the late 90s for possession of child pornography.
Warner Bros. still hasn't commented on its decision to license Gadd's song for Joker, and neither has Phillips. We'll have to wait and see if the revelation winds up hurting ticket sales, but it doesn't look likely. Despite all the controversy surrounding it—or maybe because of it—the film is breaking box office records, making nearly $100 million in its opening weekend alone.
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