Youth Gone Wild

“How many singles were released from Ratt’s album Out of the Cellar?”

“In what year was Joe Elliot born?”

“Who was the drummer for Cinderella?”

… I got a new phone.

It was about time. My old phone was around 4 years old, and kept having little moments where it forgot it was a phone and thought it was a paperweight or a toaster or something. It was reaching the point where the choice was: a) get a new phone, or b) throw this one through the wall.

However, after an afternoon of playing around with wallpapers and icons, I discovered a free quiz game app and proceeded to lose the whole rest of the the day. After 2 hours I was #1 in New Zealand in the 80s Rock category… which wasn’t really that hard, but then I did spend my entire puberty inside a Metal Edge magazine. It was hardly the most productive use of my day off.

“Which band promised to get ‘Smooth up in Ya’?”

It’s funny, but a quick search of YouTube has reminded me of how little of that magical period has remained preserved for posterity. Once upon a time I had stacks of VHS tapes with all my favourite videos, live clips, bits of interviews, etc. Now it’s hard to find much online where the audio isn’t rubbish or the end of the video hasn’t been cut off. How will any future generations understand why all those pretty women wanted to go home with Tom Keifer? How many of us really remember?

“Which model, featured in the video for Warrant’s ‘Cherry Pie’, went on to marry Jani Lane and later became engaged to Tommy Lee?”

And perhaps it’s just that when I started really noticing men this happened to be the stuff that was going on around me. Perhaps there was an animalistic moment of celebrating male beauty, which we have since subsumed and denied. But it’s very hard to ignore the fact that the (male) hard rock bands of the 80s were shamelessly marketed to schoolgirls as sex objects, so much so that entire oeuvre became one big, raunchy tease. These days (perhaps a little more unsettlingly) it’s only teenage boys like Justin Bieber or One Direction who find themselves marketed this way, and their sexual energy is scrubbed clean of any direct innuendo. Smooth up in ya, indeed.

In many ways, we have become so much more prudish than our parents ever were. I find it easy to dislike the weird, hairless, jailbait cockiness of a Justin Bieber or Harry Styles… yet these young men are now 22 years old. That’s the same age Jon Bon Jovi was when Bon Jovi released their first album. Just one year younger than David Lee Roth was when Van Halen made their debut. But somehow the former are boys while the latter were men… at least in my eyes. ‘What Makes You Beautiful’ is saccharine candy floss in comparison to ‘Ice Cream Man’, [Ooo, Roth is just sex on legs in that clip. Yummy] but the intent is surely the same – it’s just that one is missing the potency of knowledge, and sexual knowledge equates to danger. David Lee Roth wanted to have sex. He really enjoyed it and gave the impression of being good at it. But sex might just kind of happen to the guys in One Direction while they were thinking about something else – something like ponies or holding hands. It’s the Disney version of teenage lust.

However, I’m sure that backstage at a One Direction concert, the walls are still dripping with fluids. Teenage girls are still teenage girls…

To me it’s a little sad that we don’t allow our male performers to get their raunch on anymore. We’re pretty comfortable with female singers being skimpy and a bit jiggly, but then we accept that teenage boys are lustful creatures and so it makes sense that there’s a market there. We’ve reverted back to the myth that teenage girls aren’t wired that way, so the discomfort we have for sexy men actually fits neatly alongside our vilification of the overly-jiggly women (like Miley Cyrus). In both cases, they will corrupt the minds of our girls and get them thinking naughty thoughts…

Of course it’s nonsense. Of course it’s almost certainly the brain-work of people who were never teenage girls to begin with (or who barely remember what it was like).

I do remember what it was like…



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