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Glee Garners Sex Offender Gary Glitter Some Green

Glee promotional poster
Glee promotional poster

The episode of Glee that aired this week garnered a bit of controversy. It was the return of Gwyneth Paltrow as a substitute teacher for a Sex Ed class. A few talk shows covered the controversial subject matter. The cast of The View weren’t comfortable with the fact that the show airs at 8 p.m., which is a time you sit to watch shows with your family,and brought up the fact that kids gravitate towards Glee because of the singing.

In the first 10 minutes, Paltrow tells students in the class “Sex is like hugging, but a lot wetter.” The scene with the condom and the cucumber, despite what talk shows have said, was rather tame. The items were merely held up, and there was no demonstration shown. During the class, when two girls talked about wanting to be abstinent, Paltrow said they were frigid and not being very smart to think they could refrain from sex.

In this day and age of teachers losing jobs and being arrested for having sex with students, I thought people would be upset by Paltrow being so suggestive (even if it was mostly with another teacher (Matthew Morrison) that she was trying to seduce. The one aspect of the show that would be controversial that nobody has talked about, is the song Paltrow sang. Many have mistakenly called it a “Joan Jett song.” It’s actually a Gary Glitter song that Jett covered.

Gary Glitter is a glam rocker from the early 70s that was never as big in the U.S. as Sweet or T-Rex, but had lots of hits in the U.K. His big hit here was 2 Rock ‘N Roll Show (Part 2). That’s the song you hear at many sporting events. It has no lyrics other then the word “Hey” which is yelled by the crowd during the chorus.

There was a time in the 90s when Glitter took his computer in for repairs and child pornography was found on it. After lengthy legal battles, he did four months in prison. At the time, many teams stopped playing the song due to complaints from fans. It made sense, although no radio stations ever stopped playing Pete Townshend or Who songs when he got popped for a similar thing.

Years later, most teams were back to playing the song again. And what happens to Glitter? After sailing from country to country, and settling in Vietnam, he gets arrested for having sex with two under age girls (ages 10 and 11). He was looking at the death penalty (which is what they give for “child rape”). He paid off the families, who went to court and plead for leniency. Glitter got three years for a lesser charge (“committing obscene acts with minors”).

Twenty years early a 14-year-old girl had sold a story about having sex with Glitter, but it was thrown out of court since she profited from the sale of the story (side note: A similar thing is happening in the Lindsay Lohan case. The jewelry store accusing her of stealing a necklace sold the footage of her wearing it in the store and that can hurt their case). Since his jail stint, six females in Vietnam have come out claiming to have had sex with him (from ages 11 to 23).

All of this caused a scene of his to be cut from the Spice Girls movie, but the films The Full Monty, Happy Gilmore, Meet the Fockers, and The Replacements all kept his hit song in. And now Glee used a Gary Glitter song. The less popular Do You Wanna Touch?. The press all said it was a “Joan Jett song,” and I’m sure the show even released info stating the same thing. The song was written and performed by Glitter in the early 70s. Just as Tommy James wrote and had a hit in the 60s with Crimson & Clover, as well as Jett who covered the song in the early 80s. That doesn’t then make those “Joan Jett songs.”

For those of us that know the Glitter story, and were watching Paltrow sing it seductively to a high school class…it was creepy.I contacted the guy at the Padres currently in charge of the music. That’s Eric Myer, who is the Entertainment and Production Director, and has been for the last nine years.

He told me, “We stopped playing that song two or three years ago. It had more to do with a different direction we were going with our music. We started playing complete songs. When we play the Macy Gray song (Beauty in the World) at the end of games, we get so much positive feedback. I would get emails asking what it is.”

Do people complain about the songs? I remember how cool it was to hear AC/DC’s Hells Bells when Trevor Hoffman came out, and I always wondered if some hardcore religious type would complain.

“That was a crowd favorite. Someone in the front office heard the song on the radio and suggested we try it. It was so successful, other teams started duplicating it. You’d hear it at Aztec games and other teams across the country. Nobody that I recall ever complained about it. If we get complaints, it might just be because the music is too loud.”

What procedures are in place to make sure you don’t play a song with dirty lyrics?

“We play the clean versions of songs. We also check various websites to read all the lyrics the song contains. We also try to cover all genres of music. Sometimes we have a country night, or with a fiesta night, we mix in more Latin songs. We tailor the music to a theme we might have. The players also choose the songs they come out to. Some of them have had a Christian rock song. It becomes a collaborative effort. Fans end up wanting to know what the songs are. Their favorite player might be [Nick] Hundley, who comes out to the Collective Soul song Shine. We’ve heard some people play those same songs at Little League games, too.

We also try to stay up on the latest songs or Grammy winners. We want to be a little cutting edge and create a hipper environment.”

Bruce Hornsby (Mandolin Rain), told me during an interview once how he contacted Rush Limbaugh to get him to stop playing his song (The Way It Is) as their theme music. They just made fun of him on the air and continued to use it. He said legally, if they play only 20 seconds or less, he can’t do anything. I’m guessing no bands would want you to stop playing their music, but has it happened?

“No. They probably like the publicity the song would generate. And we have deals with EMI and ASCAP, so all of that is pre-cleared; all the pop music that’s played in the park, too. It’s the same way radio stations get the rights.”

What a lot of people don’t realize is that when radio stations play songs, the songwriters make money. It was reported 20 years ago, that Paul McCartney made $35,000 a year just on the amount of times the song Yesterday (the most frequently played Beatles tune) played on the radio.

And that all leads back to Glee,a show that appeals to many people; when they’re already dabbling on a touchy subject, I thought the Gary Glitter song could’ve been dropped for another tune. Especially since it doesn’t even work with the premise – which is Paltrow trying to teach students about sex. A sample of the lyrics:

Right or wrong/Don’t it turn you on?

Beggin’ on my knees/Baby won’t you please

Run your fingers through my hair…


And the chorus:

Do you wanna touch?

Do you wanna touch?

Do you wanna touch me there?


There, yeah!

Not a single media outlet has complained about the use of the Gary Glitter tune. The CD of Glee songs will be released, and Glitter – a convicted child molester – will make a few hundred thousand dollars on the deal.