The women in Jeff Tremaine’s movie adaptation of Mötley Crüe’s memoir The Dirt are obstacles, morons, and objects. They are comprised of a revolving stable of interchangeable extras, generally given little more than a sentence to spit, or not a syllable to grunt. They jiggle for the rock stars, and alternately get fucked, smacked, and thrown up on by them. This is not surprising, per se, as the band’s reputation as womanizers precedes their entire legacy—even their music really, at this point, because honestly in 2019 who the fuck cares about Mötley Crüe’s catalog? And yet, it is jarring to see something so nastily exploitative in a contemporary context. Spiritually, it seems that Rich Wilkes and Amanda Adelson’s script co-signs the band’s book’s philosophy that women are barely sentient toys.
And it could have been so much worse.
The Dirt, out on Netflix today, contains an anecdote that isn’t depicted in the movie, in which bassist Nikki Sixx had sex with a woman he described as “slurring and stumbling,” and then retrieved his bandmate Tommy Lee to join in. Lee penetrated the woman from behind and, according to Sixx’s account, she continued calling Sixx’s name, thinking it was Sixx who was inside her as she was being raped. Sixx then found another man and offered up the drunk woman as his opportunity to lose his virginity.
An L.A. Times article about The Dirt and how out of place it is in a MeToo world includes this statement from Sixx regarding the above-described incident:
“I don’t actually recall that story in the book beyond reading it. I have no clue why it’s in there other than I was outta my head, and it’s possibly greatly embellished or I made it up. The Dirt was being written during a really low point in my life where I was drinking and using drugs again to deal with a crumbling relationship. I honestly don’t recall a lot of the interviews with [co-writer] Neil [Strauss].”
Strauss told the Times that he was contractually prohibited to discuss specifics but he refuted the idea that The Dirt glamorizes the band’s bad behavior (spoiler alert: it does, you’re supposed to root for them until the end). “I wouldn’t say this movie is a celebration,” Strauss said. “There’s DUIs, death, drugs. They’ve done everything horrible that one can imagine.”
Additionally, Strauss said this:
“I don’t know if I want to be in a world where all our culture is washed and cleaned up,” he said, “because I don’t think that’s going to help where we’re going.”
Nor will a bunch of hollow portrayals of women who only exist to be in service of the men with which they appear on screen, though. Examples of The Dirt’s treatment of women are in the video above; it contains scenes depicting sex and intimate partner violence.