By Lethbridge Herald on April 6, 2019.
While fans are raving about the Motley Crüe film “The Dirt,” now showing on Netflix, critics have shown massive contempt for this new rockumentary.
And sadly, that’s typical of some reviewers who tend to elevate themselves above the world around them.
I’ve often written over the years that too often popular art is considered crappy art by critics. It’s a snobbery I find elitist and condescending.
Because a fan prefers Skid Row’s Sebastian Bach over Johann Sebastian Bach doesn’t make the listener a tasteless, gutter-dwelling simpleton contrary to what some would have us believe. Ditto with a movie-goer who would rather spend time watching “Rambo” over “Roma.” Or someone who prefers Pabst over Pinot Noir.
In our leisure time, we all have the right to choose the arts entertainment of our own choice and I’m willing to bet the majority of us have broad tastes in both music and film. But our own personal preferences shouldn’t subject us to ridicule.
A case in point is Nickelback, which has sold millions of albums and developed a worldwide fan base since the Alberta boys started making it big. I remember their first show at the Enmax Centre had people lined up outside to buy tickets and it was sold out in hours. It caught everyone by surprise.
Decades later, Nickelback is the punchline for a lot of jokes because critics have chosen to make them a target of their contempt. Is it justified? Many will argue it is whenever they get a chance; others will ignore it because they’re fans. And those fans don’t deserve to be slagged when they’re spending their hard-earned money to buy music and attend shows, neither of which we reviewers have to.
And I try to keep that in mind when I’m at a concert — an act may not be my particular favourite but when I see thousands of people rocking in their seats or screaming and yelling for encores, that tells me the artist on stage is making a connection and has an impact on the lives of the paying customers.
That deserves to be acknowledged, no matter who is performing, whether it be Nickelback, John Mellencamp, Anthrax, Johnny Reid or yes, even Motley F’ing Crüe as the band so often calls itself.
And fans are ticked that critics are dissing the Netflix version of the band’s autobiography which was a really entertaining read.
Motley Crüe were the bad boys of rock ’n roll; they were hedonistic beyond description, one part debauchery mixed with two parts heroin, three parts Jack Daniels and four parts fun.
They were the quintessential metal party band. But they also had, and still do, real talent. Nikki Sixx, Mick Mars, Tommy Lee and Vince Neil made fans and sold millions of records because they were damn good at what they did. Neil could wail with the best singers in rock and the others are exceptional at their respective instruments. They had to be to make the big money and develop the audience base they still have to this day.
And that’s the kind of thing critics overlook. In a world where bands are constantly looking for stardom, Motley Crüe achieved it through hard work and ability. And the movie reflects that.
Does it have the production values of “Bohemian Rhapsody” or other hit movies this year like “Black Panther?” Maybe not. But it’s got the rawness of “BlacKKKlansman” and a big hint of “Spinal Tap.” And the actors were perfect for the band members they portrayed.
But critics hate it; they call the acting lousy and some scenes overdramatic such as the one portraying the death of Neil’s young daughter, a moment that fans found touching and heartbreaking.
Who’s right? Well, ask Vince Neil — he’s the one who suffered the loss of a child; maybe the critics should talk to him.
What “The Dirt” does is pretty much tell the Crüe story the way it unfolded. This can’t be said for the fun but flawed “Bohemian Rhapsody” which ignored some key factual and time elements.
“The Dirt” showed the Crüe for who they were and what they were from the drug addictions to the hotel trashing and the sold-out concerts. It even portrayed the tragic car accident which sent Neil to jail after Hanoi Rocks drummer Razzle Dingley died instantly when the Crüe singer smashed into another vehicle.
While the film doesn’t portray it, that crash also killed Hanoi Rocks, a Finnish band that had so much untapped potential.
There was nothing melodramatic about that scene or the one before it where it shows the two bands partying.
There was nothing melodramatic about a scene in which Sixx gets out of rehab and promptly sticks another needle in his arm.
This was the life of Motley Crüe. And Netflix, as diehard and casual fans alike know, told the story the only way it could really be told — the Motley Crüe way.
Forget the critics. It’s easy to write hate which I think, being in the media for 39 years, is simply a way for some reviewers to attract attention.
It’s far more challenging to be fair. “The Dirt” is. And fans know it.
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