|Index||6 reviews in total|
Afropunk, a documentary about black kids in the US punk rock scene,
represents an honest voice of director James Spooner, whose experience as a
minority inside a minority community (a black in a punk community or a punk
in a black community) parallels the film's four main characters' stories.
The documentary comprises interviews, the interviewees' lives, and their
live performances. While the interviewees do not know each other, their
experiences are similar: born and raised in a predominantly white
neighborhood, being only one black person in a local punk scene, dating
almost exclusively white boys/girls due to the interest proximity, admiring
legendary black punk band Bad Brains, and trying to establish and maintain
their ties to the black community.
According to the director, the film has been appreciated by both the mainstream black audience and the mainstream (mostly white) punk audience, as well as by comparatively small black groups in the alternative art scene. But you have to be neither punk nor black to appreciate the film; it has universal appeal to anyone who feels that they are different from what they are supposed to be.
This film, which many may assume is a historical punk documentary, actually is an honest and needed treatment of race and identity. Punk and Hardcore music is simply the microcosm in which it is told. First time Director, James Spooner, in telling this story, has opened new dialogues on these crucial subject both intra and interracially. Many times funny, sometimes sobering, a wake up call to America. An examination of the duality of racial identity that DuBois called "double consciousness." What could have been "The Bad Brains Story" is a story about kids, alienated by two cultures and two communities. Many of these punk and hardcore kids have never questioned their role in the punk scene or the black community until their interviews, and it's obvious as they struggle on camera to reconcile a fragmented self. Brilliant.
Excellent film. Incisive examination of the people and music that expresses the views of subculture often alienated and rarely seen and highlights a vibrant side of the scene breaking perceptions and smashing stereotypes. If you enjoyed Decline of Western Civilzation,Dogtown and Z-Boys, Style Wars, Stepping Razor Red X or The Freshest Kids you must see this; even if you're just curious for thought-provoking film check it out. Exposes the work of many pioneering bands like Pure Hell, Bad Brains, Fishbone and emerging ones like Cipher and Tamar-Kali giving a platform that you'll almost never see on TRL or 106 & Park even though they should. Check www.AFROPUNK.com for when it travels to your town and comes out on DVD this summer. You will be shocked by some things mentioned(Mariko's comments)and moved by others but definitely captivated. It already is cult phenomenon thru over 170 screenings in the past 2-plus years of independent screenings and rightfully has won accolades at festivals worldwide. Great debut for Mr. Spooner and massive potential for the future.
Great film about blacks in the punk and, in extension, rock scenes both
of which are predominantly white. Despite the generally punk setting,
this film is really about ethnicity not music though there is plenty of
that too. The perspective that the film puts forth is very clear: being
a minority group within a minority group and about identity within a
group that glorifies itself in self-identity. I was surprised that the
film was only an hour plus change but was incredibly dense and
thought-provoking. Being Asian myself and having been part of the punk
scene growing up, I felt very heartened that a lot of my own thoughts
were talked about: personal and ethnic identity, identity within the
scene, and finding an avenue to express ethnic identity inside and
outside of the scene by breaking stereotype of what is "acceptable" as
The only real negatives are technical ones: the DVD menus are kind hard to choose from when viewing on a computer due to a wonky cursor that they used and the sound in performances isn't hot either - no soundboard recordings, just miked stuff that comes out a bit distorted. On the flip side to that though, there are some good extras: live performances, trailer, commentary, deleted scenes and interviews.
Definitely a recommended watch and essential for ethnic folk in any music scene. Sadly though, even though it's been given good reviews (from what I've read), this documentary probably won't get much attention because of the general audience's unfamiliarity or disinterest with one aspect of its theme or both. It's noteworthy that this is the first effort of the director, James Spooner; I look forward to seeing whatever project he has next.
Music-wise, the documentary includes performances and interviews with members of Cipher, Dead Kennedys, Apollo Heights, Fishbone, Candiria, of course Bad Brains and more.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Afropunk is a film that explores the experiences of African Americans living the hardcore/punk lifestyle in the United States. The film presents a surprisingly comprehensive account of the matter as the director captures the lives of a wide variety of black punks and bands that cover many of the subgenres that fall within the banner of hardcore/punk. Even more, the film manages to convey the perspectives of both black males and females, which is rather impressive, considering the fact that most punk scenes are unfortunately dominated by (white) males. Whether in the suburbs or in the city, the point reiterated in the film is that there is a terrible lack of racial minorities who are participating in the punk movement. And why should this be? Especially considering the importance of the anti-racist message within punk rock, it doesn't seem to make much sense that white males should dominate a subculture that is supposed to strengthen a demographic that has been excluded from mainstream society. I think the overall message in Afropunk is not that punk is not black enough, but rather, punk in America is way too white.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Not to spoil or create a "spoiler" however: One of the most racist
films I have ever seen. The film lacks proper research, the cast of
interviews (except for a few) are UN-credible. The film maker was
completely biased, when he could have been enlightening. To suggest
that a race "created" punk rock (and then give the proof he suggested)
is just sick. To suggest a "class" created punk rock is more
Some of the interviews however, were heart felt. I will say the structure form of the film was not bad (editing etc.) TO try to give yourself a name especially in Punk (when he contributed nothing to the foundation of punk) and build street credit by using race as the catalyst is sad and should be seen for what it really is. Using these artist and kids in this film for a racially motivated act is also disgusting. Please stop making yourself a martyr dear film maker, punk was created to demolish "idols".
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