Music Video of the Day: Don’t Come Around Here No More by Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers (1985, dir. Jeff Stein)

It’s about time I got to a music video that lead to the PMRC. It may not look like one that would, but it did.

At the beginning of the book, I Want My MTV, there’s a whole chapter about the issue. The authors start off by talking about Tipper and her daughter’s experience watching Hot For Teacher. According to the book, her daughter said the following:

Mom, why is the teacher taking off her clothes?

I would love to know if that was Kristin Gore considering she went on to have a career in comedy. She and Tipper even played on a Diva Zappa comedy single. Frank Zappa having testified at the congressional hearings over this stuff. Although it sounds like it was Sarah LaFon Gore Maiani judging by her age when she saw the two videos.

On another occasion, Gore and her six year old saw Tom Petty’s “Don’t Come Around Here No More” video–some other parent, having gone through the “Hot for Teacher” incident, might have learned a lesson and banished MTV from the home–and the girl was “disturbed,” Gore said, “because the last scene showed [an actress] turning into a cake and being sliced up.

I have feeling the authors of the book think this is ridiculous.

In September 1985, Senator John Danforth, also married to a PMRC member, convened a congressional hearing to discuss the excesses of rock music in the age of cable TV. And that is how the Commerce Committee of the 99th Congress of the United States, like millions of other Americans, watched “Hot for Teacher” and Twisted Sister’s “We’re Not Going to Take It” when they should have been working.

You got me as to what bothered them with We’re Not Gonna Take It, considering it’s a song about civil rights and standing up for what you believe in. At least with Hot For Teacher you could make the reasonable argument that while harmless entertainment, it should be aired when a six-year-old isn’t likely to stumble across it. I’m really glad we live in a time when music videos aren’t taken down from YouTube for explicit content. Oh, right, that happens.

Anyhow, lets talk about the video, including some bits from Alice herself, Wish Foley (Louise Foley).

Here’s the genesis of the video according to Tom Petty:

Dave Stewart and I wrote and produced “Don’t Come Around Here No More.” We were talking about the video while we were in the studio, and he said, “I’ve always wanted to be the guy sitting on a mushroom with long nails and a hookah. You know, like in Alice in Wonderland.” And I said, “That’s it. We’ll do Alice.”

Thus, Dave Stewart got his wish:

Tom Petty: We didn’t use any special effects. Everything that’s big was big, and everything that’s small was small. It was a two-day shoot, and each day was fourteen hours, way into the night. Even for musicians, those were challenging hours. But we knew while we were doing it how shit-hot it was.

I don’t want to copy the entire section on this video, so here are the highlights:

Wish Foley: When I went to the audition, there were fifteen or twenty girls coming in at the same time. They were models, in skimpy leather outfits with short skirts. Boobs everywhere. It was kind of gross; they would stand in front of a mirror and do their “come hither” look. And here I am, dressed up like Alice in Wonderland.

She was 21. She had done a bunch of commercials along with some TV work. She says she had been the original Joanie (Happy Days), but that after they shot the pilot, she was told that she looked too much like Cindy Brady. It’s funny that after this video, Foley went on to work on Disney productions such as Beauty and the Beast (1991), The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996), and Hercules (1997). She was also in the movie, Harper Valley P.T.A. (1978) before going on to do this video.

Harper Valley P.T.A. (1978, dir. Richard C. Bennett & Ralph Senensky)

Jeff Stein: We built a giant teacup out of an aboveground pool.

Jeff Stein: The doughnut was a giant inner tube. I asked for the water in the teacup to be warm, and it wasn’t. She was in cold water on an air-conditioned stage for quite some time, and never said anything. When she came out, she had hypothermia.

Wish Foley: If you look closely, you can see me shivering. They bundled me up and shoved me into an emergency-wash shower.

Tom Petty: For the last shot, where we cut a piece of Wish’s body and eat, we had a giant cake made in the shape of her body, and Wish slipped her head from underneath. That must have been uncomfortable as hell. There was only one cake, so we had one take to get it right.

Wish Foley: When people said that the cutting of the cake promoted cruelty to women, I had to laugh that people took it so damn seriously.

Jeff Stein: I was cited by a parents-teachers organization for promoting cannibalism.

It amazes me that this video was swept up in that whole thing. It’s a trippy music video based on a book that has been adapted into everything from an X-rated musical to a Goodtimes animated cash-in movie to an official Disney version.

I think my favorite part about this whole PMRC thing comes from Dee Snider. He both testified, and played himself in the VH1 movie about it called Warning: Parental Advisory (2002). In an interview, he said that he didn’t have a problem with there being a label on albums to tell parents about the content. He thought that was reasonable. He wasn’t happy about the way they were going about it. A bunch of wives of congressmen getting their husbands to hold sessions on the evils of music, which forced people like Snider, Zappa, and John Denver to have to come and testify in front of Congress about music and censorship.

John Diaz was the producer.

Tony Mitchell, Kathy Dougherty, and Peter Cohen did “special effects” for the video, according to mvdbase–despite what Tom Petty said about them not using special effects. They were probably the people responsible for creating the things, and that one special effects shot at the end.


30 Days Of Surrealism:

  1. Street Of Dreams by Rainbow (1983, dir. Storm Thorgerson)
  2. Rock ‘n’ Roll Children by Dio (1985, dir. Daniel Kleinman)
  3. The Thin Wall by Ultravox (1981, dir. Russell Mulcahy)
  4. Take Me Away by Blue Öyster Cult (1983, dir. Richard Casey)
  5. Here She Comes by Bonnie Tyler (1984, dir. ???)
  6. Do It Again by Wall Of Voodoo (1987, dir. ???)
  7. The Look Of Love by ABC (1982, dir. Brian Grant)
  8. Eyes Without A Face by Billy Idol (1984, dir. David Mallet)
  9. Somebody New by Joywave (2015, dir. Keith Schofield)
  10. Twilight Zone by Golden Earring (1982, dir. Dick Maas)
  11. Schism by Tool (2001, dir. Adam Jones)
  12. Freaks by Live (1997, dir. Paul Cunningham)
  13. Loverboy by Billy Ocean (1984, dir. Maurice Phillips)
  14. Talking In Your Sleep by The Romantics (1983, dir. ???)
  15. Talking In Your Sleep by Bucks Fizz (1984, dir. Dieter Trattmann)
  16. Sour Girl by Stone Temple Pilots (2000, dir. David Slade)
  17. The Ink In The Well by David Sylvian (1984, dir. Anton Corbijn)
  18. Red Guitar by David Sylvian (1984, dir. Anton Corbijn)

14 responses to “Music Video of the Day: Don’t Come Around Here No More by Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers (1985, dir. Jeff Stein)

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