Fiona Apple has no issue with her song “Criminal” being used in the new film Hustlers. The singer-songwriter gave a rare interview to Vulture this month and said that while she hasn’t seen the film starring Jennifer Lopez and Constance Wu, she has no issue with her music being part of the soundtrack.
“Listen, I just want to say: I would give my song to Jennifer Lopez to dance to for free, any day, any time,” said Apple, adding with a laugh that she rarely leaves her home, but if she did, she would have helped contribute to the film’s $33.2 million opening weekend. “I really want to see the movie. If I were a person who actually left my house, I’d go,” said Apple.
Hustlers has quickly become a critical and commercial darling, with the film earning rave reviews following its premiere at TIFF and generating Oscar buzz for Jennifer Lopez. Based on the 2015 Jessica Pressler article that first appeared in The Cut, Hustlers tells the real-life story of women who used their position working in strip clubs to swindle rich Wall Street customers out of thousands.
Apple says that she’s happy to see a film like Hustlers receiving screen time and bringing a greater awareness to people who are often overlooked in the media, applauding director Lorene Scafaria and Lopez. “Lorene Scafaria is bringing awareness to what sex work is like, and Jennifer Lopez is moving things forward for Latinas and women everywhere. Everyone has something that they care about, and I care about this,” said Apple, who is donating two years of royalties from “Criminal” to an organization that assists refugees.
Apple’s biggest hit became a cultural landmark when it was released in 1996, going on to win the Grammy Award for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance in 1998. The iconic Mark Romaneck-directed video served as a sexual awakening for teens of the late 1990s and now Lopez has literally put her spin on the song, using it during a dancing scene in Hustlers. Apple says that while she didn’t know her song was going to be featured in the movie, she’s happy about its inclusion. “I didn’t know [Jennifer Lopez] was going to be dancing to it. I’ve seen a lot of pieces about how they got [the rights to] “Criminal,” but it’s just funny to me — there’s a disconnect between agents, because I never got a video of the dance. And I want it, bad! I’m all for the movie, though, and I’m excited to see it,” said Apple. “Basically, every single time any college dancer or So You Think You Can Dance [contestant] asks, I’ll give them the rights. “Criminal” has always been what people ask for the most, so it’s always been my little help-out-people song.”
Apple’s video for “Criminal” was shocking at the time for its voyeuristic lens, with a house full of teens in various stages of undress. Apple herself was only a teenager at the time when she stripped down to her bra and panties. It’s fitting that “Criminal,” which Apple wrote in 45 minutes when she was 17, is now being used in a film that is all about women using their sexuality to reclaim their power. “The way it started, the video, all the crap I got — using this song now, and using it in this movie for a purpose I believe in, is like reclaiming it,” said Apple. “I’m not that scared girl in underwear anymore. The song isn’t that to me anymore. It’s my way of paying for things that I want to get done.”