Surrounded by death and the brutal lifestyle that feeds it, a Los Angeles gangbanger explores the history of Southern California street gangs from the 1950s through the 1990s in an attempt ... See full summary »

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Surrounded by death and the brutal lifestyle that feeds it, a Los Angeles gangbanger explores the history of Southern California street gangs from the 1950s through the 1990s in an attempt to fully understand his existence. Bastards of the Party humanizes the staggering casualties of the LA gang wars. Written by Anonymous

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22 April 2005 (USA)  »

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Bastards of the Party
6 February 2007 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

This documentary was excellent and added a new, complex visual interpretation of a very old story - gang violence in L.A.

The documentary was historically correct adding insight to the creation of L.A. gangs and the positive movement they grew out of, hence the title.

From the description of the first decade, the documentary artistically and accurately illustrates the complexities of an additional 4 decades of gang violence incorporating the historical, political, sociological, environmental, economical, and personal factors amazingly well giving it all equal time in such a relevant, meaningful way. As a result, you get drawn into this tragic, sub-cultural story.

In reality, most of this history is captured orally and typically held within the African-American community. The director/narrator, Cle Shaheed Sloan, did an excellent job at capturing these stories and placing them in this factual, visual format.

One of the most captivating parts of the piece were the solutions that these current and ex-bangers shared with Cle near the end of the documentary. The solutions shared were simple yet extremely thoughtful.

One solution was don't allow your children to be labeled with your gang name, i.e. if your gang name is Killa, don't label your son Li'l Killa. You want to give him a chance to grow up with his given name, i.e. Anthony Perkins, which would take him out of the box of his father's gansta lifestyle and the pressure of having to live up to that image/lifestyle. It seems so simple, but it does indeed effect so much.

It is a fact that significant human behavioral change only occurs when humans experience tragic, life altering events. This fact is captured perfectly in this documentary. Bangers operate in the business of death not life and so they are constantly surrounded by and involved in tragic life experiences. So, it was amazing that when these loyal, cradle to the grave, hard-core bangers were forcibly faced with life - their own children - it provoked them to critically think about and problem-solve their current situation motivated by new found hope that their children could have better lives.

Another solution stated called for African-Americans to stop calling each other 'nigga'. In the documentary, Cle explained that saying let's go kill those niggas was as easy as saying let's go kill those animals, those spiders, and so on because it de-personalized your actions and the victims of your actions. But, if you were to say, let's go kill those brothas, it would make you pause and think, "Does it make sense that I would want to kill my brotha?" To take it a step further, if you were to say, let's go kill Anthony, you would not only personalize it and make it real but you would be acknowledging what you were doing which would be planning to murder someone.

Of course, the final conclusion was that gang life was based on destruction and the only way out was jail or death, and that overall banging should be avoided at all costs.

Finally, I have to comment that Cle himself added to the complexity of the gang life as well. Cle's own human characteristics were shown throughout the documentary as he was both partial and impartial as an interviewer and a 'character'. He was impartial when speaking to governmental officials and professors, strictly gathering facts via interview but partial when talking to his homeboys because it is his neighborhood, he himself is an ex-Blood member, and he is very loyal to his neighborhood. He cares very deeply. At one point, someone close to him dies, killed by Crip gang members. At one point he says that he would do something to his slain friend's killer if he were face to face with him, but at another point he says he would not have any interaction with him at all. This is real and illustrates how dynamic human behavior really is and can be.

Overall, this documentary resonated deeply within me and I feel that everyone should view it and discuss it. It really gives you an honest insight to this sub-culture of L.A. gang life and you are able to walk away thinking about how to make changes in your own world/sub-culture.


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