Looks That Kill (The Patriarchy)

Year: 1983

Song: “Looks That Kill,” by Mötley Crüe

As my friend Dave suggested last time around, the whole scantily-clad-ladies-in-a-wasteland thing was big in 1983. So big, in fact, that maybe it’s worth asking what Suzanne Collins was watching on MTV in her formative years.

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“Looks That Kill” opens with some beautiful theatrical dance fighting as Tommy, Mick, Nikki, and Vince appear in their Mad Max gear on what is not at all a studio set covered in sheets and foam rocks. For whatever reason — perhaps their weaponized looks — the female inhabitants of this world pose a threat to the band, and they chase after them with torches, carrying on the noble tradition of musical theater dance fighting:

Cheat front!

They pen the women up and lock them in, and somewhere, Ted Cruz just got an idea.

With the women safely penned up, the band is free to perform, and that’s a metaphor I don’t want to touch with a ten-foot pole.

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HIYOOOOO

While Vince is busy proving how he became the lip synching champ of Southern California roller rink circuit, Nikki makes some threatening faces, Mick is in Mickworld where aliens bring him drinks and the Loch Ness Monster irons his pants, and Tommy ADDS MORE COWBELL, not stopped by his hair. This brings us to our first rolling feature:

Tommy Lee Hair Watch: FLUFFY. Long. At its I’m 21 and in a music video and I don’t give AF best.

So they sing, getting right up to the pen and you just know someone on that set was making a joke about a captive audience. (Yeah, it’s fine, I hate me too a little bit right now.) And just when you’re like, no they did not make a video that involves locking up women and driving them crazy with the lust of rock and roll except of course they did because that is pretty much the entire hair metal ethos, a tumbleweed rolls by and things take a turn.

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A SHE-RA PRINCESS OF POWER TURN.

She’s all, “Hey it’s cool, I know Filmation hasn’t even invented me yet, but I’m here to fix this shit.” And so she blinds the band with her power, sets some stuff on fire, frees her compatriots, and blows everyone’s mind because DID SOMETHING FEMINIST JUST HAPPEN?

The women welcome her as their new, impressively-coiffed overlord, and She-Ra is basically, “I got this, GTFO of here while you can.” Here’s how cool she is: she steals the pentagram off of Tommy’s drum kit and takes it for herself. She is going to fight them with their own moves.

Sure enough, the band decides that they can conquer She-Ra with their own good looks and set about chasing her with some smooth pelvic thrusting.

SIKE.

But there’s four of them and one of her, and only so many set pieces to slither through, and soon she’s cornered. And then…

EARTH. FIRE. WIND. WATER. HEART.

— GOOD GOD, THAT’S CAPTAIN PLANET’S MUSIC!

Feminism’s our powers, magnified…

Only instead of summoning Captain Planet and taking pollution down to zero, they summon a flaming pentagram because of course they do, and She-Ra disappears, for, in addition to the looks that kill, she has the moves that confound, befuddle, and turn even the most misogynist of rockers into accidental feminists.

She might not be the hero we deserve, but she’s the hero that we need.

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