Joker’s soundtrack is a failure

Joaquin Phoenix as Arthur Fleck in Warner Bros. Pictures, Village Roadshow Pictures and BRON Creative’s Joker.

The inclusion of a song made by convicted rapist Gary Glitter continues to prove that Todd Phillips is an insensitive filmmaker

By now, you’ve probably seen Joker. You also probably have an opinion on it as the film’s been one of the most divisive pieces of cinema in recent memory. While the subject of debate surrounding the movie has been mainly around its plot points and characterization of its protagonist, Arthur Fleck, its soundtrack also reflects Fleck’s incel behaviour that goes a step too far, by including Gary Glitter’s “Rock ‘N’ Roll (Part 2).”

Glitter was convicted of one count of attempted rape, four counts of incident assault, and one of having sex with an underage girl in 2015. Although Glitter isn’t set to make any money off of his song, the inclusion of “Rock ‘N’ Roll (Part 2)” still acts as a giant middle finger to victims of child abuse.

Joker’s soundtrack features songs that directly reflect Fleck’s personality throughout the film. While many contain allusions to clowns, the songs include subtext that directly relates to Fleck’s social incompetence. “Everybody Plays the Fool” by The Main Ingredient starts with the singer speaking to an unnamed person who spends all their time moping and feeling sorry for themselves – a theme that drives the entirety of Joker.

Songs like “Send in the Clowns” and “White Room” both discuss the end of doomed relationships but, of course, Joker uses them to represent Fleck’s eventual dissociation from society, leading him to become the villain we know.

Naturally, filling a movie with music that could relate to incel-behaviour is an understandable move. The soundtrack sets the tone for the film and helps convey the film’s messages. Having a good soundtrack only elevates the film.

Except in the case of Joker.

Glitter’s inclusion in the film marks a gigantic failure for Todd Phillips, Warner Bros., and everyone else involved with the film’s production. It makes sense for a movie about an incel to include music that contains lyrics about incel-behaviour. The songs mentioned before don’t explicitly reference those themes, but when pairing the lyrics with the themes of the film, they can be interpreted as songs to which Fleck would relate.

“Rock ‘N’ Roll (Part 2)” doesn’t include any lyrics. The song is a three-minute rock fest that’s heavy on chaotic instrumentals and backed by the classic “hey, hey, hey” line repeated throughout. The song has no symbolism as the others do. Sure, it sounds fun, and in the moment you’d have no idea who made it, but its true purpose here is murky.

Did the studio know? I can’t say for sure, but they should have checked.

Joker doesn’t glorify incel-behaviour. It depicts it as truly as possible, but has nothing more to say. It’s an incredibly shallow movie that’s made even more numbing when paired with the inclusion of Glitter’s song.

This is just another addition to all the scandals surrounding the now-infamous film. Phillips has done a great job of showing how disconnected he is from society and with the discovery that Glitter has a song in the film, it further illustrates that maybe Fleck wasn’t the joker – it was really Phillips.


Feature photo: DC Films

Related Posts