Hysteria: The Def Leppard Story
First aired on VH1 in July, 2001, Hysteria: The Def Leppard Story hit all the plucky young working class blokes work hard and get it right success story buttons, taking care to offer an easy to digest gloss on how a bunch of good friends who just love good times and hard work can let a little success and excess go to their heads and perhaps even cause them to roll what appears to be a 1987 Chevrolet Corvette over in an English meadow at 88 glorious LED indicated miles per hour, severing one’s arm in the process. Yea, this genre, whose special purpose was to assuage the guilt and mixed feelings of looking back on the narcissistic and blissfully unaware good times of the eighties, could well have been the poultice that hid and detoxified the psychic wounds of the liberal West long enough for us to charge ahead into the 2000s, unironically looking forward to a 180g vinyl triple gatefold Bobby McFerrin comeback LP.
Unfortunately, not 2 months later, certain events occurred in September of 2001 that would render it seemingly impossible for anyone but the baby boomers to continue to effectively rehabilitate their legacies through cinema. The cheerful gloss put on such topics as a deadly case of alcoholism, the innocent and apolitical acceptance of a worldview that had no problem putting individuals firmly in the “have” column in the global tally of the “haves” and “have-nots” as a reward for public overindulgence in good times and conditioner, these things would soon take a backseat to a polarizing case of the terrors that would strip the paint right off society and take us, unfortunately, back to the right-wing primer coat while American culture went up on blocks in the world’s front yard.
This 2001 gem of a biopic was released at generally the same time as another frank, straight-talking coming to grips meditation on our collective insanity, the Mark “Marky-Mark” Walberg and Jennifer Aniston vehicle Rock Star. Rock Star (a movie I do enjoy thoroughly), was actually given an unfortunately timed release in the month of September, 2001. Can you imagine? Just as we were just beginning to connect the dots between our troubled ’90s inner Eddie Vedders and the crimped and blow-dryed blonde ’80s angels of our natures, we had to put the all the chuckling “those were crazy days” reminiscences aside to join the rest of America in being scared shitless.
Only now, almost 10 years on, do we have someone like Lady Ga-Ga—medicine woman, shaman— who can finally make us feel mindlessly good about ourselves again. Thanks, Hope! Thanks, socially splintering new media! Let the Hair Metal Ideal Truth and Reconciliation Committee reconvene, with Lady Gaga shepherding the lost offenders of the ’80s into her folds to bear the standard that will unite us in all we have been meaning to recuse ourselves from for the past 30 years. Let it begin here with your own private screening of Hysteria: The Def Leppard Story, starring Anthony Michael Hall. You’ve suffered for it, motherfuckers. Now take your reward.