The Decline of Western Civilization

Director: Penelope Spheeris
USA / 1981 / 100 min

Last streamed on Wed, Nov 24

Shot in 1979 and ’80, Penelope Spheeris’s essential rock doc chronicles, with humor and an insider’s sense of camaraderie, a crucial moment in the history of Los Angelino music, as the older, artier Hollywood punks (X, Alice Bag Band) began to lose ground to the working-class, overwhelmingly male “hardcore” groups (Circle Jerks, Black Flag) that called the South Bay home. Somewhere in the middle are The Germs, whose untamed freak frontman Darby Crash, given a starring role here, would be dead by the time of the film’s release. The Decline of Western Civilization peels back the veneer of social justice solidarity that has retrospectively been slapped onto punk, to reveal the angry, antisocial truth.

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