Many articles have been written about this “documentary” already, so I won’t be giving a review, but rather a personal reflection.
A few weeks ago, Bohemian Rhapsody won several Academy Awards for retelling the story of Queen and its lead singer, Freddy Mercury. While The Dirt will not reach the same levels of success, I promise you it was more fun. Nikki Sixx, Mick Mars, Vince Neil, and Tommy Lee–the band members of Motley Crüe–are rock gods by all definitions, and I worshipped at their altar for my entire teenage existence, and still do. Sex, drugs, and rock and roll? Check. Check. And check. They gave rock stars a bad name, and still give zero f***s to this day.
“The Dirt” does not sugar coat anything and while I would not say this new Netflix movie is good, I will say that I LOVED IT! I’m pretty sure I already saw this movie, but that version starred Mark Wahlburg and Jennifer Aniston, and Dominic West in a dreadful wig..
To put it mildly, growing up in the 80’s was different than today. The hair was long, the future was bright, and the music was awesome. I was a 13 year old suburban brat when Theater of Pain was released. Throughout high school, I straddled the line between Freak and Geek, getting decent grades in high level classes, while not caring much in the process. My mind was on other things, mostly girls, girls, girls, and MTV. My notebooks had band logos etched in ballpoint pen–Van Halen, the Scorpions, Iron Maiden, Dokken, Def Leppard, Twisted Sister– and the list goes on. My wardrobe was comprised of black concert shirts, tattered jeans, and high top sneakers with fat laces. My diet was entirely based on Cool Ranch Doritos and Coke. I was a good kid, and I was a metal head.
There have been many attempts to explain the significance of MTV on the younger generations, and it really was a revolution. My friends and I would stay up late on Friday nights for the Headbanger’s Ball, a weekly session hosted by VJ Adam Curry, that took time away from the endless Peter Gabriel and Whitney Houston videos, to play the videos we wanted to see, by all the hair bands you could ever want! Motley Crue’s Home Sweet Home is one of those seminal moments in our generation. I am still in love with that girl, you know the one. Remember, this was before the internet could give you all that you could possibly desire, and you had to use your imagination. One of my favorite recent pop culture moments was the closing credits of Hot Tub Time Machine, with the reenactment of this entire video, but in their alternate reality.
A trip to the drug store, would include a visit to the magazine rack to see what band was featured in the latest issue of Circus magazine. I never played an instrument, and couldn’t sing to save my life, but I always dreamed of being in a band. I was so jealous of friends playing in the local Battles of the Bands. They were awful, but even at this lowest of levels, they had groupies, with their acid washed jeans, and hair teased to the ceiling.
The wave of nostalgia that the movie brought forth, as memories of high school crashed over me was so intense–memories of driving to the beach on a long weekend with the radio blasting GNR’s “Sweet Child of Mine,” not caring about anything except what the weekend might bring — and those girls, girls, girls.
I am a firm believer that you should never meet your idols, because they will only disappoint you. The Dirt is a perfect example of that. None of the band members have any redeeming qualities. While this movie doesn’t glorify the rock star lifestyle, it definitely put a smile on my face. Knowing that these people exist in the same universe as me is mind-blowing. A part of me is happy that people are living this way, but I can’t explain why. They are awful, self-destructive, and abusive, but I love them for it.
Immediately after the movie ended, I spent an hour on Youtube watching old Motley Crüe music videos, and every scene is still chiseled in my memory banks from the countless viewings during the Headbanger’s Ball. Today, you might still find me blasting that music in my oh-so-practical minivan, while picking up the kids in the school kiss and ride lane. Horns up. Tongue out. Pass the Tylenol, I have a crick in my neck.