The Decline of Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years

December 27, 2008

Before there was Celebrity Rehab, there was The Decline of Western Civilization II: The Metal Years.

If the last decade of knobbygirl-ness proves nothing else, it proves that I’ve got an overdeveloped sense of schadenfreude. I fucking love watching people embarrass themselves – especially celebrities. It’s even better when they’re getting paid for it.

VH1 certainly owes it’s current “celebreality” success to Penelope Spheeris’ 1988 documentary on the L.A. Metal scene. The defining scene is Chris Holmes of W.A.S.P., giving an interview from a pool float, while finishing off three bottles of vodka. The interview ends when he pours the rest of a bottle onto his face and he sinks to the bottle of the pool. I’m assuming that someone pulled his ass out of the pool shortly after, because he’s still around. You gotta wonder how much of it was staged. There’s a similarly embarrassing cooking scene with Ozzy Osbourne that is completely staged to make him look like a complete brain dead burnout. It’s obviously the prototype for The Osbournes. There are a bunch of other band interviews – KISS, Alice Cooper and Poison – there was already something obviously wrong with Bret Michael’s hair. Everyone seemed pretty confident that there was no end in sight to their success…

Metal was neatly killed by grunge a few short years after this documentary came out. I hesitate to link the documentary to the rise of grunge – none of my friends were watching fancy documentaries back in High School, we got our music from the radio and to a lesser extent, MTV. Obviously, consumers have little input to what gets played, the record companies decide that with their payola system. So really, the record companies are the ones that pushed metal to the wayside to make way for grunge. In any case, metal is still around (although primarily on VH1, the former home of Michael Bolton and Celine Dion). Where’s grunge? Most of the players are either dead or in Pearl Jam, which is pretty much the same thing.

Speaking of killing a music movement…Maybe Penelope Spheeris should get out there and make a Part IV about Emo.






Sorry, that was the sound of me laughing really hard, lapsing into a coughing fit and spitting into a wastebasket. Say what you want about 80s Hair Metal, at least it wasn’t as boring as Emo. Chicks don’t show their boobs to Fall Out Boy or My Chemical Romance! Who would even bother watching a documentary about Emo? Emo fans are all too busy hanging out at Hot Topic and updating their MySpace profiles. (Yes, I buy my children clothes at Hot Topic and I have a MySpace profile. Schadenfreude!.)

Year – 1988
Rating – R
Runtime – 93 minutes
Genre – Rockumentary
Director(s) – Penelope Spheeris
Writer(s) –
Actor(s) – Aerosmith, Alice Cooper, KISS, Poison, Faster Pussycat
BOB Rating – Three BOBs
Favorite Quote – "I'm not gonna cheat the audience that way. I don't get high when I'm practicing at home alone, so why should I do it when I go up onstage?" - Jeff Young