The Decline of Western Civilization
Director: Penelope Spheeris
Year Released: 1981
Rock anthropologist Spheeris talks to several punk bands, including Black Flag, Germs, X and Fear about how they live (and what the 'scene' is like in Los Angeles) and records them in concert, actively getting the audience all agitated and violent (which led to many venues banning them). This is a wonderfully unpolished gem of a documentary and often very, very funny, especially the interviews with the fans who are so serious about their lifestyle they become unintentionally hilarious. You can tell the bands really like her too, and are free to be themselves in front of the camera: John Doe of X does stick-and-poke tattoos for his bandmates, Darby Crash cooks eggs and plays with a tarantula and Ron Reyes of Black Flag shows off the room "where the magic happens." What's even more fun to think about is how, in 2019, a lot of these musicians (that didn't pass away) are in their late 50's/early 60's and still playing music ("Grandpa, my ears hurt!"). F.T.W. indeed.