There, I said it. Why is it that every dick in the world expects me to like Roth-era Van Halen in order to give me a cool sticker? Obviously, everyone knows that Hagar-era Van Halen is the worst thing in the world behind Tequiza, but I’m coming out and saying it: Van Halen — even with Diamond Dave — is, like, the worst band of all time. I say that for several reasons, the foremost of which — for me at least — is their overt misogyny and the fact that their lyrics can’t possibly appeal to anyone but the kind of dude who pours beer on his own face when he gets fucked up and uses the word “tits” as a synonym for “cool.” But beyond that, is there such a thing as a song as overplayed as “Panama”? Hasn’t being into some dumbass band full of dudes who make surprised faces while “wailing” gone past the point of nostalgic irony and revealed itself to be just as stupid as it was in 1981? I’m sorry, dude, but Van Halen does not “rock.”
But aside from the fact that I’d rather listen to Colin Farell pontificate about the merits of fedoras vs. trucker hats than suffer through hearing “Hot for Teacher” one more time, let me get back to that misogyny thing. I know, I know, the 80s were the zenith for bands full of androgynous dudes aggressively objectifying women who wore less make-up and looser pants than they did. I know that Van Halen weren’t exactly alone in their laser-like focus on tits and partying, but they’re the most irritating to me because they’re the band that even people who’ve figured out being into Motley Crue’s first album isn’t cool still play on jukeboxes in urban bars with punning names (Crowbar, anyone?). Or maybe it’s that they seemed more serious about it and they never sang about anything else. I mean, in addition to singing about poontang, Poison sang about roses having thorns in them and other fruity cowboy shit, Motley Crue sang about the devil, Skid Row sang about being a badass eleven-year-old or whatever, but Van Halen was all tits and ass all the time, and they fucking meant it. Listening to the average Van Halen song makes me feel like some dirty old man is licking my ear. It’s just gross. Check out the lyrics to “Drop Dead Legs,” for example:
Drop dead legs, pretty smile,
Hurts my head, gets me wild.
Dig that steam, giant butt,
Makes me scream, I get nuh-nuh-nothing but the shakes over you
And nothing else could ever do.
You know that you want it.
I know what it is.
You know that you want it, baby,
When the night is through, will I still be loving you ?
Dig those moves, vam-pire
Set me loose, get it higher.
Throw my rope, loop-de-loop
Nice white teeth, betty boop.
Set it cool real heavy.
I aint fooled, gettin ready.
Just yuck, right? Diamond Dave is about as subtle as Luther Campbell. Almost every single one of their songs resembles this one, with a description of some body part or other that gets David Lee Roth’s old bald ass hot, a few notes on how bad he wants to hump the body part’s owner, and a promise that he’ll toss her away like garbage once the humping has been completed. I was talking to Davetavius about this the other day and he said, “What if a woman were to write a similar type of song about a dude? What would it even say?” We snickered a little as we wrote lyrics about giant dongs and “ripped abs” and the like, but it was just ridiculous. Even if I were one of the Donnas and spent all my time writing songs about how many dudes I wanted to bang, I still wouldn’t be writing inventories of disembodied body parts that made me want to get busy and then take off after having used the body parts’ owner to sate my base desires. That might be because I don’t fetishize body parts and get aroused by disconnected bits of flesh because I’m not a sociopath. There’s a difference between the Donnas singing about wanting to bone some guy and Van Halen saying they want to use a woman and throw her away.
I can’t get hot and bothered enough by looking at a buttcheek to be able to ignore the fact that there’s a human attached to it. You see, no matter how fancily crafted a body part might be, you’ve got to interact with the human being that it comprises a part of in order to have sexual contact with it. For me, that has often meant that no contact would occur, since finding out someone is — oh, I don’t know — a Van Halen fan or something will make it impossible for me to maintain interest in a body part. In any case, I’ve never been able to understand the ability to ignore someone else’s humanity (or personality) in order to use her/his body parts and then bone out. I’ve never been able to figure out how someone could want to have sex with a person they didn’t think it was worth talking to. I think that makes me a better person than David Lee Roth, right? I mean, of course I’m a better person than the dick who covered “California Girls” while wearing a captain’s hat, but now I’ve got even more proof.
Really, how can any woman have ever bought a Van Halen album? And how is it that these ironic dicks who think being into a Camaro band is cool can expect me to like a band that might as well print a label on their album covers that says, “A note to female listeners: We hate everything about you except for whichever body part of yours we might want to use for a few minutes, and after that we hate all of you.” That was a rhetorical question. Anyone who is into Van Halen is stupid enough to expect anything. But still, the expectation is representative of the kind of pervasive misogyny we deal with at every turn, and of the fact that we’re not even allowed the space to call attention to it. If I tell some guy who thinks Van Halen is “awesuuhm” that I’m not into being dehumanized by the bands I listen to, he’ll tell me to relax, that it’s party music, that I’m being a fag (and we all know that calling someone a fag is just misogyny in drag). And then I’ll know I’m talking to a Liberal Dude, one of those guys who claims to support women’s rights as long as those rights don’t start looking like the freedom to define our own sexuality and to live in a world in which we don’t have to laugh it off when people tell us that we’re nothing but masturbation devices.