The Decline of Western Civilization ★★★★

here's my punk story: in high school there was a cool crowd of punk dudes who said i was a poser bitch for claiming i was punk when i wasn't. but i never said i was punk. for whatever reason they really hated me. so to get back at them i wrote a poem about how their rich parents bought all their expensive equipment and got them gigs and sent it anonymously to the literary magazine. everybody knew it was me, though.
eventually i got into the late 80's/early 90's california stuff. when i was 16 i went to a guttermouth show and the then-30ish year old singer hit on me relentlessly and pretty soon after that i started listening to emo instead.

technically, this is one of the best documentaries i've seen. the editing is interesting and fun, and even if you took away the sound it's a lovely study of faces. the subjects are interviewed from a very mom-like perspective, treating them both as human beings whose thoughts and feelings are worth recording and as deeply flawed, sad, and angry. that it resists the common temptation to either glorify or patronize them is pretty incredible. it serves the subjects well, because even as these kids spew out whatever toxic racist/sexist/homophobic/violent gibberish comes to mind, they're so vague and directionless that they have no convictions at all beyond pissing people off. there is no ideology, only energy with nowhere to go and nobody to tell them where to put it. no vietnam to protest, just a mass of adults and people who look different, us vs. an ephemeral them. and i get it, we all get it, i was a teenager too. it's easy to sympathize. but to watch this at 31 years old is heartbreaking more than anything. a lot of these kids are assholes, but just as many are sweet dear-hearted morons, so this floats between being fun to watch (particularly the performances) and horribly uncomfortable, and often sits somewhere in the middle. punk is dead, it died a long time ago, it died as soon as it became popular and would never have survived the internet anyway. i will cherish the memories always but it's probably for the best.