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Outrage grows over Joker movie's use of song by convicted child molester Gary Glitter

The musician is in jail serving a 16-year sentence, but could make big bucks from the use of the hit Rock and Roll (Part 2).
The Todd Phillips film Joker has only been in theatres for a few days, but outrage is quickly growing over the use of a particular song: the 1970s Gary Glitter hit Rock and Roll (Part 2). (Warner Brothers; Evening Standard/Getty Images)

The Todd Phillips film Joker has only been in theatres for a few days, but outrage is quickly growing over the use of a particular song: the 1970s Gary Glitter hit Rock and Roll (Part 2).

The song plays for roughly two minutes during a key scene, when the Joker character, played by Joaquin Phoenix, dances on a flight of stairs in Gotham City as he transforms into the villainous character.

While it's unclear how much Glitter — who is serving 16 years in prison in the U.K. for child-related sex offences — stands to profit from the use of the song, many industry watchers say the number could be significant. 

That's not sitting well with many film fans online, who are raising concerns over the song's use.

"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," writes one Twitter user. "I'm off the fence — this movie is immoral bulls--t."

"I would NEVER normally advocate this. However, if you are planning on seeing #Joker this weekend please pirate or torrent it," writes another. "F--k the profits of ANY movie that •knowingly• lines the pockets of a paedophile scumbag like #GaryGlitter!"

"Not sure if Americans have been following this. But the Joker stairs dancing sequence lasts for barely 2 min (if that) and because of the song choice, prolific pedophile Gary Glitter will be making thousands in royalties," writes another.

Still another argued the choice was deliberate and juvenile.

Others are boycotting the film specifically because of the song.

Another user had a different solution. 

The glam rocker, whose real name is Paul Gadd, was known for his outlandish suits, boots and makeup, and he sold more than 20 million records. He had 26 hit singles in the U.K., with 12 of them making it into the top 10, and three reaching number one.

Gary Glitter, whose real name is Paul Gadd, arriving at Southwark Crown Court on Feb. 5, 2015, in London, England. The former glam rock star was sentenced to 16 years in prison for sex crimes in the 1970s and '80s. (Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)

The British rocker's biggest song was Rock and Roll, a 1972 dance hit that later became associated with professional sports, especially in North America, in the same way the White Stripes' Seven Nation Army later became associated with professional soccer.

But in the late 1990s and 2000s Glitter returned to the limelight for a far darker reason: he was convicted for a host of sex offenses involving children, including downloading child pornography in England and child sexual abuse in Vietnam. After his second conviction, the NFL requested that teams stop playing the song.

In 2014 Gadd was charged In the U.K. with sexual offences dating back decades, among them rape and indecent assault. On Feb. 25, 2015, he was sentenced to 16 years in prison.

On its opening weekend, the R-rated film Joker raked in $93.5 million in the United States alone, which marks the most lucrative debut in history for any film released in October. The Batman spinoff also pulled in $140.5 million US internationally.

About the Author

Jennifer Van Evra is a Vancouver-based journalist and digital producer for q. She can be found on Twitter @jvanevra or email jennifer.vanevra@cbc.ca.

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