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The new "Joker" movie has already been the subject of intense scrutiny before its release, and now there’s yet another element of the film causing controversy.
Before the movie hit theaters last week, the film had already drummed up an explosion of negative press. Some expressed worry that the sympathetic portrayal of the homicidal Joker, played by Joaquin Phoenix, and his troubled origin story could inspire violence. Across the nation, movie theaters increased their security measures in response to the idea of possible mass shootings at “Joker” screenings. At least one threat shut down a theater in California on Thursday, ABC News reports.
In addition to the violence portrayed in the film and the threats of violence playing out in real life, there is now controversy over one of the songs prominently featured in the film.
The already heavily-memed scene of the Joker dancing on a stairwell, a lengthy scene that shows the villain’s transformation, features the 1972 glam rock anthem "Rock and Roll Part II.” The song, often referred to as the “hey” song, plays for about two minutes of the movie, NBC News reports.
The choice to use that song is being criticized because the singer behind it, Gary Glitter, is a pedophile with several convictions under his belt. The London rocker was first arrested in 1997 after child pornography was found at his home, The Guardian reported at the time. He was sentenced to four months behind bars in 1999 and a sex offender designation after admitting to owning the porn collection, which included thousands of photos of abused children, the BBC reported.
Glitter has been arrested for sex charges multiple times over the years, including when he served time in Vietnam for sexually assaulting two girls, aged just 10 and 11, in 2006, the BBC reported at the time. Most recently, in 2015, he received 16 years for attempted rape, four counts of indecent assault and one count of having sex with a girl under 13. The most recent sentence was for incidents that happened in the '70s and '80s. His attempts to appeal his conviction have been denied.
As a result of the convictions and to avoid giving royalties to a sex offender, "Rock and Roll, Part II,” a longtime sports game favorite, was cut from being played in the Super Bowl in 2012, NME reported. Although many sports games banned the song, it still generated an estimated $250,000 in royalties back in 2014, source told Billboard at the time.
The inclusion of the song in “Joker” could reportedly also lead to big royalty payments for Glitter, whose real name is Paul Gadd. The movie took in close to $100 million in its first weekend alone, CNBC reports.
The decision has led to outrage, both in America and across the pond, the Huffington Post in the UK reports.
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