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The Decline of Western Civilization

John Turnbull

Posted on May 27, 2018 17:19

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A look back at the documentary trilogy and what the next one should be about.

I have to admit I've had a crush on Penelope Spheeris for some time. I've never seen a picture of her or anything like that. It was the content, audacity and impact of her documentary trilogy, "The Decline of Western Civilization" that did (does) it for me, recently brought back to my attention via Tubi TV. This gal has... well, balls.

For those of you not familiar with this trilogy, Part 1 was "The Punk Years" where Penelope and the cameras focused on a few groups and certain individuals in the emerging and gritty Los Angeles punk scene in the late 70s. One cringed at the realism while unable to look away as these (mostly) kids debauched, drank and vomited their way through life.

Part II "The Metal Years", admittedly my favorite, was about the vapid and plastic Los Angeles "hair metal" scene. The budget was big enough to include amusing interviews from some of the biggest bands of the era, but the real entertainment value (aside from Chris Holmes of WASP drunk in his pool) was in the individuals and groups who hadn't made it, but were soul-crushingly convinced they would. At any cost.

Part III was about the "gutter punks", the newest movement of Punk Rock. While it did show how punk bands evolved (or de-evolved in many's opinion), the real impact was in viewing the "gutter punk" kids; street kids who had refined the punk attitude into a lifestyle of panhandling, drinking and surviving on the streets, with no compromise, regret or remorse.

Which brings me now to a request. It's time for Penelope to do, "The Decline of Western Civilization Part 4". Initially, I thought a good premise for this would be to go back to the bands and individuals from Part II: Seduce, Odin, London, the two chubby lesbian girls, etc. and see what they are doing now. I'm sure some of them are still alive, but don't quote me on that.

But then I got to thinking about the title of the movie and it's relevance. What is the true decline of Western Civilization? Social Media, the kids' attachment to their phones, and their subsequent detachment to society are the true decline. Bar none.

Let the documentary show how girls sitting next to each other on the bus text one another instead of having a conversation. How people walk into traffic playing "Angry Birds" or whatever else is popular this week. How emoticons and acronyms (CMFEO - crying my frickin' eyes out, here) have replaced the written language. How one can become a social media warrior about starving dogs in Zambia, while they step over a starving homeless  person. How we can't fail a student or let an athlete lose a game, because learning has become an option.

However, this topic won't work, and here's why. The common thread the viewer had for the other docs was empathy. It's hard to find any with this new crop of degenerates. Never mind, Penelope.

John Turnbull

Posted on May 27, 2018 17:19

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Source: The Wrap

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