UNDISPUTED ATTITUDE

T.M.I. blog from July 2008.

In the midst of the escalating homegrown youth scare, where you can’t exit your front door without a puncture wound to a main artery. Allegedly. Historically (and without undermining the real tragedy at the core) this all-encompassing paranoia has made for classic films and imagery. Channel 4’s recent kids and weaponry season packed and pulled a few punches in equal measure.

Looking back a few decades, ‘yob’ culture was documented in such a gloriously trashy way, you can’t help but get dewy eyed for the days of Matt Dillon and company getting passionate in ‘Over The Edge’ for the survival of their youth club (the Huey Newtons of the game compared to Shabba Doo and company five years later in Breakdance 2, fighting the same cause by dancing – but Shabba did choreogaph Three 6 Mafia, so it’s all good) in America’s dullest community – New Granada. It’s not dated too badly – YouTube riddled blog entries will become obselete a lot quicker.

Apparently based on a real-life incident, reported in the newspaper article, ‘Mouse Packs: Kids on a Crime Spree’ that’s sadly, impossible to find online, it captures youthful energy and the anarchic byproduct of boredom perfectly.

And in the education system itself, 1982’s ‘Class Of 1984′ only had to look two years into the future to a world where bizarrely dressed youths carried weaponry to school and blared Fear and Teenage Head records before commiting serious assaults. Total b-movie-ism, but a banger that loses it’s shine on these shores in favour of John Hughes’ wisecracking rites of passage.

From the streets, to the educational institutions to behind bars, before Sean Penn made films where he pulled anguished faces and brooded, he was in classics like 1983’s ‘Bad Boys’ where he scuffled with the bad guy from ‘Highlander’ and fertilizer filled radios explode and kill. Note the sensationalist tone of all three trailers.

Two great surly punk-related interviews that can replace the rinsed-out Pistols on Grundy, is members of Agnostic Front, Youth Of Today and Cro Mags on ‘Donahue’ in 1986, and John Lydon and Keith Levine annoying Tom Snyder in 1980. A time before Lydon became a sneering pantomime villain, and had the bulgy-eyed delivery down to an artform.

And to this day, the papers are still demanding that young ‘hoodlums’ are scared straight. Check the footage of youths sent to a maximum security prison from the 1978 documentary ‘Scared Straight’ – with added greatness courtesy of Peter Falk. All hugely entertaining, and this self-congratulatory ’20 years on…’ footage conveniently omits to mention that participant Angelo Speziale had gone and commited a murder a few years after filming, for which he’d be convicted in 2007. Doh!

But the realness, is the 1984 documentary ‘Streetwise’ – filmed in Seattle, following the lives of a crew of homeless kids. It’s poignant and depressing, but hasn’t been bettered and deserves an official screening beyond ten flash video chapters but it’s better than nothing.

Based, again, on an article, in this case, Life Magazine’s ‘Streets Of The Lost’ – a piece written by Cheryl McCall and photographed by Mary Ellen Clark, which led to a recently republished book, it’s harsh but briliant. And much like ‘Scared Straight’ there’s darker, unfilmed follow-up stories, like that of Roberta, who ended up a victim of the city’s Green River Killer.

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