Are you kidding?!
You’ve probably uttered this statement in awe at least a few times, dear dirt readers, when you read Motley Crue’s 2001 memoir about his life and times as world-class degenerates. Less a biography than a police rap sheet in book form, it’s the kind of glorious behind-the-scenes narrative that makes you feel like you can’t turn the pages fast enough; only the hammer of the gods can compete with it as the ultimate story of rock stars surpassing the Roman emperors in terms of debauchery. the title is the cleanest thing about this book.
Related: Mötley Crüe Netflix Movie Fact Check ‘The Dirt’
and you could mutter it under your breath during the first half hour of netflix filth, which delivers you the following items in 30 minutes or less: female ejaculation; naked asses (male and female); the sunset strip in all its seedy ’80s glory; Pete Davidson in a rugby shirt; four men who discover the power of umlauts; sex; drugs; more sex; a montage of the band going to the top to “take me to the top”. (you have to wait to see ozzy osbourne snort an ant row at a holiday inn, a moment in rock history up there with keith richards inventing the “satisfaction” riff and elvis on the ed sullivan show, till 40 minutes mark, unfortunately.)
but what will really make you repeat those five words, at a volume cranked up to 11, is the moment that happens right before the prince of darkness tries to show these yankees how to have fun when it comes to ingesting formicidae. . We’ve seen Vince Neil (Daniel Webber), Nikki Sixx (Douglas Booth), Mick Mars (former Game of Thrones sadist in residence Iwan Rheon), and Tommy Lee (Colson Baker aka Machine Gun Kelly) indulge in all kinds of evil. behavior up to this point. they are comparing numbers of groupies for the tour; one of them makes a joke about that gang bang in salt lake city. high fives are exchanged. And then Mars, giving his bandmates a dirty look, says, “I have respect for myself and for the females of our species, unlike you animals.” you can feel it building up inside you, like the wave of vomit that hits a person after they’ve downed an entire bottle of jack to take the edge off the coke they snorted from someone’s breasts. is unstoppable. you can’t hold back this is the point where you will scream [boom], scream [boom], scream, scream at your TV screen: they are. your. damned. kidding. me?!
because look: when it came to this toxic quartet, mars was definitely the oldest of the bunch (he was 29 or 25 when he joined the band, depending on the source; sixx was 22 and lee 18) and definitely the oldest. ill (literally, as he suffered from ankylosing spondylitis, a degenerative bone disease that mick tells us of the film is “like hot, quick-drying cement that grows inside the spine”) according to amanda’s script Adelson and Rich Wilkes, Mars was almost certainly the most gentlemanly member of the group, content to simply gulp down vodka and lean back in his vampire pose while everyone else freaked out. perhaps, in fact, he said just that on that legendary day of bug-sniffing and urine-licking so long ago.
but he was playing in a band that flaunted their image as a “drank, snorted and fucked everything they saw” band, made boy-to-be-boy videos filled with barely clothed women, and worked in a genre where that women objectification was as much a part of the aesthetic as leopard-print pants and the aquanet. mars may be the “nice guy” by default. he is also the guitarist for motley crue. for dirt to include this line at all, let alone highlight it in a movie that sees the American dream as a blonde giving you a blowjob under every table, feels more than a little disingenuous. he is exemplary of everything that is wrong in this movie. It feels like everyone involved in this project would also like to get the cake from him and stick their dick in it.
Put aside for a second whether it’s wise, necessary, or right to retell this ancient rock & roll excess at all in the age we live in; the project has been in the works for nearly a decade, before a sea change in thinking about misbehaving men and the agency and taking into account a legacy of movies, music, etc. that has affected the way we see power dynamics between genders. (Several pieces will be written on these aspects, and by someone much smarter than me.) has been done anyway, partly because of the book’s status as a bible of hair metal hedonism, partly because no one dedicated to doing this actually gave a flying shit about reading in the sociocultural room, and partly because the basis of Crue fans have wanted their own Bohemian Rhapsody-style myth-making for years. if that last wish means gifting the band their own movie that plays fast and loose with the facts, can’t find a tonal consistency, tries to offset the glamorous highs and lows with tragic, tooth-gnashing lows in the clumsiest way possible and features actors having a great karaoke night, so congratulations. this light heavy metal flick is all yours.
so get ready for what couldn’t be a more common retelling of the history of the crue, a checklist of musical biopic rhythms to be played obediently and metronomically. the band assembles one member at a time, and then comes the eureka moment that gives birth to the “live cable” you know and love. someone says the line, “I need to know you’re not kidding here, because I’m ready to go all the way.” an early gig ranges from a sub-16-bar bar fight in the first number to a smash hit. old school cliches involving “we were all so young and stupid then” voiceovers collide with new school meta cliches about characters telling us what we’re seeing is bullshit but, print caption, men. good times. the bad times, including hitting a woman, manslaughter, and a heartbreaking family tragedy, all of which are acknowledged and then quickly blown away so we can get back to the good times. A recreation of the prodigy’s “Smack My Bitch Up” video starring Tommy Lee. a poster of pearl jam in the rain, no seriously, to signal that the golden days are coming to an end. overdose back from the dead, hitting rock bottom, rehab, relapse, replacement singer, reunion. disclaimer that the band played for 20 plus years. end credits comparing the actors to reality. Wasn’t riding hard supposed to put a stake through the heart in these kinds of movies?
This is the tradition of rock’s bad boys as a bored rocker, an endless parade of ecstasy and emptiness recreated after the party that robs dirt of the vicarious emotion it had on the page: the feeling that it didn’t you should have both of a great secondhand read about musicians who act like horrible people but still seem heroic living the dream. Director Jeff Tremaine was the man behind the scenes for all those jackass movies and a bunch of related side projects, and he keeps the memoir’s gonzo vignette format. but you can tell he feels hemmed in by the middle ground he has to walk: how do you make a motley crue movie that isn’t a caligula-esque epic of hardcore debauchery but isn’t a disney movie either? the result is doing everything possible to create half measures: clean filth, sanitized sleaze, a hologram of home, sweet home, crying and punishment. That this account has no time for facts, given the book’s dubious relationship to the truth, is not surprising. which feels surprisingly fun-free and generic to a degree, frankly, it kind of goes. fans deserve better. If any of them want to class action for defamation of character, let me know where to sign.