The Canon 55 | 12/14/15
The Decline of Western Civilization vs. Decline Part II: The Metal Years
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Prepare yourself for another fight episode as Devin & Amy pit Penelope Spheeris' The Decline of Western Civilization versus The Decline of Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years. Will the documentary on the 1979-1980 Los Angeles punk rock scene prevail over it's sequel documenting the LA heavy metal scene from 1986 to 1988? Tune in for a mosh pit of a conversation -- and head to the forums on Wolfpop to cast the deciding vote!


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dutchtilt
dutchtilt
9 posts

I want to take issue with a few of the musicians. CC Deville is a guy who happens to play glam metal, but he is a child of the New York Dolls and gave Poison some credibility which they sorely lacked. They were incidentally on the same label as a lot of the punk and post-punk bands (Enigma) at the time. I wonder what these groups of kids would look like if you tried to put them into today's context. Would the metal kids all have laptops and play EDM? This episode is hard for me because I'd rather watch II even though I is where my heart is.

barryelefante
barryelefante
1 posts

Interesting discussion, actually. I agree that Pt. II is a better film, but Pt. I is just so much better as an historical document. I mean, does Pt. II really say anything essential about its era that "Heavy Metal Parking Lot" doesn't?

One interesting argument that I think they were dancing around without ever actually saying was this: Is it better, as a musician, to be proficient on your instrument without having anything original or meaningful to say? Or is it better to have lots to say without the talent to back it up? I generally come down on the latter side: Exene couldn't really sing, and no one in the Germs could play worth shit, but the music they made is 1000x more meaningful and important than anything that those fret-tapping, falsetto-busting hair farmers who came later ever offered the culture. (I also really hate relying on classical training as a mark of seriousness for pop musicians. Yeah, CC Deville studied music theory at NYU -- but who cares, when the end result of those studies is "Talk Dirty to Me"? It's just one step from that to claiming Beyonce isn't a "real musician" because she doesn't play an instrument.) Not just coming at this from a pure punk rock perspective: I dig a lot of '80s metal, and I think a lot of really bad punk gets a pass just for being part of a more historically interesting scene. But when it comes down to it, was the hair metal Sunset Strip scene really culturally important? It's nostalgically interesting, and often funny, but important? I don't think so. Early LA punk was indisputably important, and Pt. I seems like a vital historical document, whereas Pt. II seems like a highly entertaining novelty.

I vote Pt. I.

jape8062
jape8062
2 posts

I find late 70s punks to be unbearable and doubly so of their music which made getting through the doc to be a slog, Part II and the music scene its portraying at least knew how to have a little fun and made it a much more enjoyable watch for me.

Part I feels like the more important document of a point in music history but i just find Part II be be the far more enjoyable film and it gets my vote

melkorgoth
melkorgoth
4 posts

Very interesting discussion. To Amy's point towards the end, a lot of people forget that Def Leppard's "Hysteria" was 12x platinum and spent 96 weeks in the Top 40. I agree with her point that "glam metal" or "hair metal" was HUGE and did not get its due. Poison was, indeed, pretty amazing among those bands. My inclination, and musical taste, is towards the bands and the scene in Decline 1, but I think Amy swayed me. Ouff, this is a tough one. It's almost a draw for me. There are far better punk rock documentaries now (the trilogy: Punk Attitude, American Hardcore, and Punk's Not Dead basically cover all three eras), but I love the Decline 1 is such a direct snapshot of a moment in time. But Decline 2 as a historical document that could have been re-titled "Why Nirvana (and the Melvins) had to happen" is so fascinating because, as Amy said, it's really not talked about anywhere else. I guess I'm just rambling at this point.