This past weekend I went to LACMA to see an Academy screening of Penelope Spheeris’ Decline of the Western Civilization I and III. This wasn’t my first time; I saw both films when they opened to very limited release. The documentaries captured a music scene and culture that some feared or didn’t understand, but others found accepting. The music resonated with teens who didn’t conform to what society dictated as normal or acceptable behavior, look and attitude.
As a teen of the ’80s, the film took me back to those years — and the screening to some old punker friends (and an ex). While today I am coming from a different place (a few decades older, and hopefully wiser), the film was just as exciting. And the music… the music and lyrics were just as powerful as they were so many years ago… though some of the topics were a little less relevant.I could barely contain my energy listening and watching Fear, Circle Jerks and X.
Thanks to Penelope Spheeris for capturing a scene and culture that embraced those just “the other side of normal.”