Updated Dec. 20, 2011: Vince Neil suggested in an interview that he might leave Motley Crue next year. Maybe they’ll let John Corabi back in. I always liked the album he did with them…
But as I watch a new interview with Vince Neil, I find myself wanting to shove my fist through the screen.
Neil just finished a 10-day stint in jail for driving drunk in June 2010 after a party at the Las Vegas Hilton, and he sat down for an interview about the experience.
Two things rub me wrong right off the bat — The reporter interviewing him is his girlfriend, entertainment reporter Alicia Jacobs. Straightaway you know he’s going to be handled with kid gloves instead of having his feet put to the fire as it should be. The other thing is the music they play in the background, which sounds creepily like the stuff you hear in those late-night bullshit Lucinda Bassett infomercials.
Blabbermouth.net, a metal news site I’m quite fond of, has the interview clips on its site.
The interview excerpts Blabbermouth highlighted shows Neil hasn’t learned a thing:
On people’s criticism that he got away with a slap on the wrist and that his punishment should have been harsher because of past experiences: (Neil “past” includes a felony DUI in a 1984 accident that killed HANOI ROCKS drummer Nicholas “Razzle” Dingley and injured two others, leaving at least one of them with permanent brain damage. Neil was unharmed, did 30 days in prison, 200 hours of community service, and paid millions in restitution.)
Neil: “I paid my debt to the society 27 years ago; I did what was required of me then. I was sentenced to jail, I did my time, and I paid an enormous amount of money — two and a half million. But I would have gone to prison if I didn’t. So that’s what I did. And so a lot of people say, yeah, I bought my way out. Well, that’s not really true. Most people would have gotten two days time served and pay a $500 fine — so [they would] never do any jail time. I got 30 days. I think a lot of it was kind of based on what happened to me 25 years ago, with the accident. And I didn’t do a lot of time then.”
On what lesson he’s learned this time that he didn’t learn back in 1984:
Neil: “I was 23 years old. I just turned 50. So, really, it was almost half of my life ago. I was a kid and all of a sudden I had a lot of money, all of a sudden I had fame and I let it go to [my] head. This time I just made a mistake.”
Part of me feels like I should be sympathetic. My own addictive behavior certainly impaired my ability to drive safely back in the day. I never drove under the influence of alcohol, but if you read my “Anatomy of a Binge” post, you can see how shoving junk down your throat while driving makes you a bit dangerous to others on the highway. It’s hard to stay in the lanes when one hand is on the wheel and the other is rummaging through four bags of McDonald’s.
I did this sort of thing many times before I found the 12 Steps and a program of recovery. So, admittedly, what I’m about to say is hypocritical.
Vince Neil makes me sick. His lack of contrition over what happened in 1984 fills me with rage. He could have tried a lot harder to turn a brutally tragic situation into some good. Nikki Sixx has spent much of the past decade trying to help people understand and confront addiction. He never had to, but some higher power has pushed him in that direction.
Sixx was also probably luckier than he deserved. He did his share of drunk driving back then. In fact, some believe his heroin addiction started as an attempt to self-medicate shoulder pain he was in after smashing his Porsche to bits in a drunken haze. By luck he never killed anyone — unless you count the two times he overdosed himself into several minutes of clinical death.
Since Neil’s youthful mistake left one person dead and at least one of the people in the other car brain-damaged, one would hope he’d have spent the following years making amends and becoming a symbol of self-improvement.
Instead, he bragged in one interview that he was the OJ Simpson of the 1980s and now, he says last year’s transgression was a simple mistake. He also shows little remorse for the 1984 accident. He talks about doing what the justice system required of him. Had he not served his time back then, he would have been locked away for much longer in prison, he says.
I know I should probably hold back the judgmental feelings. I know as well as any recovering addict that the itch you get makes you repeatedly do things you know are wrong. I never killed anyone, but my depressions and binges hurt everyone around me in other ways.
I guess I can’t get past this and be more humble because I’ve learned something else: In that moment of clarity when you realize you have a big problem that’s going to ruin you and others without corrective measures — you see what you’ve done in the rear-view mirror and, in time, you develop an overwhelming desire to make amends.
In fact, the 12 Steps requires you to make amends.
Maybe Neil has done these things out of the public eye. I hope he has.
But the public face he has put on this whole affair just tells people they can keep making bad choices without consequence.
One more thing: Something like addiction is a disease, not a choice. But that doesn’t mean you get a sympathy pass for making putrid decisions under the weight of that disease. Even if we don’t have a choice on the sicknesses that afflict us, we still have plenty of choices in how we choose to conduct ourselves.
In my own quest to learn right from wrong and make better choices, I’ve been inspired by people like Nikki Sixx, even if he is a narcissist. Hell, I can be a narcissist when I’m not being careful.
But I can’t help but feel like that’s still a lot better than being a 50-year-old prick who keeps making bad choices, flaunting them and then pretending he’s earned a right to be stupid because he spent a few days in jail.
What a joke.