So what are we to make of Motley Crue’s “The Dirt?”

After two decades of development limbo, the film version of Motley Crue’s The Dirt finally made it to Netflix yesterday. What are we to make of it from an accuracy point of view?

  1. Keep in mind that this is one of those “based on a true story” biopics. Don’t expect a completely truthful recounting of the past. More on that in a minute.
  2. Through the lens of history, its portrayal of sex, drugs, and rock’n’roll is pretty cliche. However, at the time, this was reality. Long before there was a #MeToo awakening, cameras in every cell phone, and social media, people got away with a lot more back then that they’d ever get away with today.
  3. The portrayal of hair metal styles is slightly inaccurate. Back in the day, the hair was way pouffier.
  4. Yes, being in a band could be that gross back in the day. Musicians were willing to live in that kind of poverty.
  5. Money flowed like water through the music industry in those days. There were big advances, plenty of parties and lots of drugs.
  6. A small point: Tommy Lee never met Nikki Sixx by accident at Denny’s. That was a pre-arranged meeting. And Vince Neil didn’t come into the picture at some backyard party.
  7. Yes, the groupie thing could be that wild, weird and debasing. Such were the times. However…
  8. …about that “based on a true story” thing: What about the assaults The Crue made on women? There’s also the matter of an alleged rape. Where did that part of the tale go?
  9. Another small quibble: The band didn’t sign the deal with Elektra that quickly. They were entertaining offers from a bunch of other bands at the same time. Still, I liked Pete Davidson’s goofy portrayal of Tom Zutaut, the guy who eventually signed the band.
  10. At least the movie is honest about how they got their manager, Doc McGhee. He’s played by David Constabile, who also plays Wags in Billions.
  11. What about original lead singer O’Dean Peterson? He’s nowhere to be seen.
  12. The concert scenes are actually pretty impressive in their attention to detail. That’s rare in a rock biopic.
  13. That part when Tommy Lee meets Heather Locklear? Didn’t happen the night of Vince Neil’s car crash that killed Hanoi Rocks drummer Razzle.
  14. Mick Mars didn’t get his hip replaced until 2004. The movie shows it happening around 1996.
  15. The band really did go to strip clubs at 4 am. Tom forwards this interview for Japanese TV that was filmed in a Winnipeg club called Teasers in late October 1987 on the Girls Girls Girls tour.

Question: How will the generations who weren’t around for the 80s react to the movie?

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

2 thoughts on “So what are we to make of Motley Crue’s “The Dirt?”

  • March 23, 2019 at 2:51 pm

    Well my 14 year old daughter, who is admittedly somewhat of an old soul when it comes to music to the tune of getting in a fist fight in grade 6 because the other guy didn’t agree that Prince was the best musician ever, thought it was absolutely amazing and loved every moment of it.

  • March 23, 2019 at 3:32 pm

    I actually liked this better than Bohemian Rhapsody. Sleaze, danger and debauchery. We need this in music now more than ever


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