Music Video of the Day: Hot For Teacher by Van Halen (1984, directed by Pete Angelus, David Lee Roth, and Rick Friedberg

Eddie Van Halen, rest in peace.

We take a small break from our annual Horrorthon to present, for your approval, the type of music video that most bands probably couldn’t get away with today, at least not without running the risk of getting cancelled on twitter.  Hot For Teacher is both a song and a video that epitomizes both the 80s and Van Halen.

The video follows Waldo over the course of his first day of school.  Waldo’s voice is provided by the one and only Phil Hartman.  Hartman would join the cast of Saturday Night Live two years later, appearing on that show for ten years and then co-starring on Newsradio.  He was also an unofficial cast member of The Simpsons, providing the voices of both Lionel Hutz and actor Troy McClure.  Hartman was one of the of the funniest men to ever live.  His 1998 murder is still something that I have a hard time accepting.

The teachers are played by models Donna Rupert (she’s the Chemistry teacher) and Lillian Muller (she teaches physical education).  While the stripping teachers were considered to be controversial in 1984, what was even more controversial was a brief scene of the members of the band grabbing their crotch during the “so bad” chorus.  When the video originally aired on NBC’s Friday Night Video, the crotch-gabbing was covered by a black censor box.

In 1985, during the Al Gore-inspired Senate hearings on obscenity in rock music (or “porn rock,” as Al Gore called it), the video for Hot For Teacher was cited as being a particularly bad influence on young listeners and viewers.  The members of the committee took a break from the testimony of Tipper Gore and Frank Zappa to watch the video.  After the video ended, U.S. Senator Paula Hawkins of Florida testified, “Much has changed since Elvis’ seemingly innocent times. Subtleties, suggestions, and innuendo have given way to overt expressions and descriptions of often violent sexual acts, drug taking, and flirtations with the occult.”  Unfortunately, there doesn’t appear to be any record of Senators Ernest Hollings and Strom Thurmond thought about the video.  Van Halen continued to rock long after all the members of that committee had either retired or been voted out of office.


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