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Bastards of the Party (2005)

8.2
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Ratings: 8.2/10 from 457 users  
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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 ... See full summary »

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(as Cle Shaheed Sloan)
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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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Blame Whitey
17 July 2011 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

The Good: This was an informative, compellingly structured documentary on the genesis and evolution of LA gangs. The story is told via an oral history by first generation gang members and then proceeds to unfold with more contemporary members (and ex-members). The film contains a high degree of advocacy (especially in the final 30 minutes) that seems reasonable.

The Not so Good: The director clearly lays the blame for gangs and gang violence on Caucasians. Although there is no disputing that institutionalized racism of slavery on up to the end of segregation definitely created gross economic and social injustices, the director fails to make a compelling case that whites directly caused inner city blacks to wage war on each other for decades. The director touches on some of the more salient factors, such as factory jobs (i.e. unskilled labor) opportunities disappearing, but fails to identify that as a root cause. Instead, we are presented with numerous examples of institutional and individual racism--including conspiracy theories involving Iran-Contra, J. Edgar Hoover, LAPD, et.al. Nowhere within this otherwise excellent documentary does the director touch on individual responsibility, personal morals, etc. Gang members (including murderers) are presented as victims of society. The director focuses much attention on the Black Panther and US movement of the 60s and 70s however this narrative is presented mostly to advance a conspiracy theory of how the FBI sought to destroy the groups, ultimately resulting in a lack of political power and community disarray. He goes on to try and blame the influx of drugs into the community as an orchestrated effort by Washington to fund the Contras.

This film is good and worth a viewing. It provides an interesting insight into the evolution of LA gangs as well as how some African Americans perceive history. Unfortunately the director focuses too much time on trying to shift blame away from the violent trigger-pullers who admittedly were, and are, his friends. He is trying to shape history in a way that absolves his community of responsibility for the violence in order to empower them to find a way out of that lifestyle. This film presents that case well (although not compelling to me); hopefully it will help the next generation steer clear of joining gangs.


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