Mtv, Music Video, Zz Top

Mtv, Music Video

How ZZ Top Conquered MTV With the 'Eliminator' Trilogy

Rob Sheffield on how ZZ Top conquered MTV with their sly, subversive 'Eliminator' Trilogy.

7/30/2021 8:01:00 AM

Rob Sheffield on how ZZ Top conquered MTV with their sly, subversive 'Eliminator' Trilogy.

The band’s now-iconic clips for “Gimme All Your Lovin’,” “Sharp Dressed Man,” and “Legs” reveled in the ridiculousness of the video age and made the …

ZZ Top embraced the playful gender burlesque of MTV, way ahead of their peers. They were out here in the parking lots of Strip Mall America, tossing the keys to the shy girl who works at Yolanda’s Shoe Salon, rooting for the underdog. The villains in these videos are sexist men — the party girl in “Sharp Dressed Man” gets groped by her sleazy date, until she pours champagne on his crotch. The leering bullies in the “Legs” burger joint get their asses kicked by an alliance of babes and bikers, while ZZ Top cheer them on.

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These videos made them heroes to New Wave misfits, winning them a new female fandom. As Dusty Hill toldCreem,“The videos have given us a younger audience. You know, our audience grew up with us until the videos, and they were beginning to get a little long in the tooth. Then the videos came along, and now we’ve recaptured the 16-year-old girls. The

16-year-old girls!”To appreciate this quote, keep in mind that in the Eighties, no American male rock bands were willing to admit having teenage-girl fans, at least not without treating those girls as a sexualized punch line. ZZ Top were far ahead of their time.

TheEliminatorTrilogy was a classic combo of beards, babes, and cars. But as film scholar and babe-culture exegete Abbey Bender haspointed out, “The ZZ Top babes are the feminine mirror image of the band itself.” There’s always a trio of them. The video vixens are superhero feminist avengers, storming into any scene and instantly taking charge. ZZ Top are the Greek chorus, giving a collective thumbs-up. It would have been easier, and more conformist, to make videos where the vixens hook up with the boys in the band. But ZZ Top had a different story to tell. They understood video was drag, just as their beards and shades were drag, so they slid into MTV without losing any of their Tube Snake Boogie Realness.

It began with “Gimme All Your Lovin’” in the summer of 1983, a time when music videos were exploding so fast, each week brought a new revolution. ZZ Top appear as guardian angels to help a hard-luck kid escape his mean old boss at the gas station: the red

Eliminatorcar appears, and out step three foxy ladies who kidnap him for a spin. “Sharp Dressed Man” was twice as great, proving once and for all that ZZ Top were rock’s funniest comedy trio. They slide the ZZ Top keychain to the humble parking valet at a fancy club; the

Eliminatorgirls take him under their wing, dress him up, and bring him back to the club as a star.But “Legs” was the masterpiece. LikeRocky IIIThe Return of the King,it was the peak of the trilogy, with ZZ Top coming to the rescue of a plain Jane stranded at the mall, somewhere in the Valley, where she gets bullied by her bosses and customers. ZZ Top to the rescue! The

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Eliminatorbabes take the poor girl shopping. (The funniest trying-on-outfits montage of the pre–Crazy Rich Asiansera?) The ladies bring her back to confront her bullies. ZZ Top applaud our heroine in her attack on the patriarchy, as she tweaks the nose of one jerk (actually the choreographer). But despite all the lingerie onscreen, they don’t sexualize her — all they want is for her to ride off into the sunset with the boy of her dreams.

Read more: Rolling Stone »

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Flashback: ZZ Top Find Some 'Tush' at 2004 Rock Hall Induction CeremonyIn 2004, ZZ Top entered the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with an induction by Keith Richards. Watch the Texas trio perform 'La Grange' and 'Tush' and give an emotional induction speech. Tres Hombres was a eye opening masterpiece of rock and blues. Adios Dusty! 😢 🙏🏿❤️