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The world of grunge. This documentary examines the Seattle scene as it became the focus of a merging of punk rock, heavy metal, and innovation. Building from the grass roots, self-promoted and self-recorded until break-out success of bands like Nirvana brought the record industry to the Pacific Northwest, a phenomenon was born. More than just an examination of the music, this is a look at how this artistic movement became a societal and fashion trend with a major effect on American culture. Written by
Bruce Cameron <firstname.lastname@example.org>
For anyone who was a fan of the early '90s "grunge" music, Hype! is almost required viewing. Loaded with interviews, live footage, and early demos/recordings, it is an accurate chronology of the early scene.
However, what makes Hype! so good is that it is basically two stories in one. A simple narrative about the Seattle scene is used to illustrate how the American pop-culture machine will jump on the bandwagon. An independent musical scene with a range of different influences gains a little exposure and reputation. Soon the corporate media steps in, and it all becomes wrapped up in the nice little package of "grunge" and is marketed nationwide as a music/clothing/life-style choice. The people in the original scene either play the game and take advantage of it, or they are caught up and exploited, or they are simply left behind. In the end, what was once underground becomes assimilated into the mainstream and homogenized. The cycle is left to repeat itself somewhere else as soon as the next "musical revolution" is discovered.
Hype! could have just as easily been about a different city or musical genre, and the story would have been the same. These same themes have been brought up in numerous other films, but they work a little better in Hype! because it's not simply a satire, but shows it first-hand through real people.
Once again, I think Hype! is a well-made documentary. Even if you're not a fan of "grunge", I still recommend it for its treatment of pop-culture as a whole.
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