Punk’s Not Dead
By Craig Regala
A very nicely done love letter to the continuing howl of ye olde punk rock (as folk protest, mainly). Concentrating on the stuff that features anthemic sing-a-longs, a strong yabbering against some sorta facet of “society” bundled within the basic “three chords and a cloud of revolution” punk churn. Titled after a generic anthem by a third generation punk band (The Exploited), the film focuses on a sound and certain bands who do it, and if it’s ok to, ya’ know, make as much money as you would driving a fork lift. Some interesting and important bands are touched on; but really, it belongs to the pedestrian (Oi!) Brit punk stuff that fell out of the the ’77 Clash/Pistols duel and the arena punk Epitaph/Fat records was to hoist onto the world starting a dozen years later via the advertising/fashion/skate culture of the southern half of Cali-for-ni-ay.
I liked this a bunch as it articulates why I don’t like most of the modern “punk” displayed here as it picks and chooses the musically conservative over those who ripped, tore, and built something new from high energy and all sortsa roots. Trust me, Black Flag have fuck all ( I saw’m twice) to do with Good Charlotte. Not that Good Charlotte are “bad,” but they have much more to do with say, the signpost band of the DVD, The Adicts, who were an iconographical bridge between early ’70s English glam via Slade/Dolls/Bowie /T -Rex and the punk to follow.
There’s a moment in the “glam” movie Velvet Goldmine where the protagonist is so excited watching a band (it may’ve been the one based on the Stooges), that he essentially starts pogoing and thrashing about. This is the zeitgeist The Adicts were born of and the “pop” moment the successful sing-a-long bands that carry this “punk” flag wave. So be it. Hell, it’s ok to have fun and belong to your own world with the like-minded, just don’t pretend it “means” anything, ok? If you stack it against the film, The Decline of Western Civilization, you’ll see the difference between “culture” born and “culture” consumed. I don’t mean “consumed” as a rote (“they sold out, man!”) hippie-punk-folkie slur, but as a comfortably consumed dependable product; loud fast folk-protest music with some goofiness and nicely human touches among the duh.
As I said, it’s a really good movie about some specific fallout from the P-word. Well shot, nicely edited, thoughtfully put together with a buncha nice interview stuff appended; kudos to Director Susan Dynner. I think you oughtta bug your local library (the State owes you!) to stock it.