When Bob Seger first penned the lyrics to his life-on-the-road song "Turn the Page" in 1973, it's unlikely he was writing with a stripper/prostitute and her daughter in mind.
But now, 25 years later, superstar-rockers Metallica have adapted their version of Seger's tune about the mundane touring life of an entertainer into a new music video focusing one apparently single mother's struggle to raise her daughter.
The video for "Turn the Page" (RealAudio excerpt), the first single from Garage Inc. -- Metallica's album of cover versions released Tuesday (Nov. 24) -- follows a day in the life of a woman who works as a stripper by day and a prostitute by night. Her daughter, who waits patiently backstage as her mother dances, also is in one scene, where she is depicted sleeping in an adjoining room as her mother turns tricks.
Directed by Jonas Âkerlund, whose work with electronica artist Prodigy on their video for "Smack My Bitch Up" drew heavy fire from women's-rights groups last year, the clip's more disturbing moments come when the woman is beaten by one of her johns and then is comforted by her daughter.
Speaking to the camera after the beating, the mother seems defiant. "If I could start my life all over again I would make the same exact choices that I've made."
Formed in 1981, Metallica, currently comprised of singer/guitarist James Hetfield, guitarist Kirk Hammett, drummer Lars Ulrich and bassist Jason Newsted, began their career with a frantic speed-metal bent on such albums as 1983's Kill 'Em All but began heading for more melodic pastures with the 1996 release of Load.
Joel Amsterdam, publicist for Metallica at their Elektra label, declined to comment on any possible statement the bandmembers may have been trying to make with the video, but he explained their selection of the song.
"They liked the song because of the road-dog aspect of it, talking about that life and what that's like and to experience that kind of loneliness," Amsterdam said. "They used the video as a metaphor for loneliness in general and the kind of toll that takes on people's lives. Any information on what the band was thinking and what the director was thinking has to come from them."
Fans such as 16-year-old Justin Thompson chose to view the video as Metallica's attempt at a slice-of-life piece.
"I think the band was just trying to make people realize that people are just trying to get by however they can and that prostitutes/strippers don't really like what they do, but it's the only way to survive," Thompson wrote. "So I think they just chose the prostitute to symbolize all the people who are just trying to make it through the day."
Among those expressing a concern about the message being sent by the video was Fatima Jaffer, information coordinator for the Vancouver, British Columbia-based Battered Women's Support Center, who suggested Metallica might not be in the best position to make a statement in this way.
"I don't think Metallica is all that qualified to make deep comments about women. To do so without context, it's easy to be misread," Jaffer said. "I myself prefer them to stay away from subjects like this that can do a lot of damage, and leave it to organizations like us. Basically profiting from music that's on this topic is something I stand totally opposed to."
David Levy, an attorney and president of the Children's Rights Council in Washington, D.C., took exception to scenes in the video that feature the daughter being left alone in a motel room while her mother walks the streets and the scene in which the child is in an adjoining room as her mother is having sex and being beaten by one of her johns.
"I'd say Metallica should be prosecuted under the child-abuse laws, because kids are watching that at home on MTV," said Levy, adding that the girl's presence in the next room as her mother is having sex is particularly appalling. "Any parent knows that you don't have sexual relations in front of a child, especially not with a stranger. The doors are open, she has easy access to the suite."
MTV has not received any complaints regarding the video since it debuted on the music station Nov. 19, according to Todd Phillips, MTV's vice president of communications.
Repeated calls to Bob Seger's management were not returned by press time.