I still remember the only fight I ever had in my life. I must have been about 12 or 13, but to me it still feels like it was a life/death struggle. Fortunately the teacher seperated us, but I remember how that schoolyard became all quiet during and right after the fight. People were ecstatic and just loved it! I didn't though, I remember I was crying like a little baby afterwards, even though I think I beat him up more than he did me (probably wishful thinking?). Anyway, since then, I'm proud to say that I always ran away from fights, and I really think it's not because I was a coward or was afraid of getting beaten up; it's just that I think that violence is only useful in very limited cases. I'd first want to emphasize that I didn't grow up in a violent environment like Boston and I have had a pleasant, normal life, with a fulltime job and a comfortable house to live in, and therefore some might judge I shouldn't have been reviewing this.
The DVD is a raw documentary, with adapted music, about the Boston underground Hardcore scene, and more specific about the F.S.U.-crew (Friends Stand United) that arose from legendary Boston band SSD. This underground scene has evolved to a worldwide phenomenon. As one of the co-founders witnesses, it was the guy in SSD who took the DC Straight Edge (cfr. Ian McKaye of Fugazi) idea to Boston, but instead of only spreading morality, these guys started spreading their fists to anyone who did harm to any member of their clan. The main idea behind all this, seems to be that there's a bunch of tight friends who will collectively beat up anyone who touches one of their members. A masked guy, standing in front of the American Flag first explains what the anger is all about, and I can only agree that there's a lot of bad things going on in many places. But the facts that multibillion corporations destroy independent stores, that expending Universities dimolish housing projects and that new middleclass neighborhoods displace the artists and the poor won't be solved by fists in my eyes. In fact, not one of these evildoers involved will feel any pain through this behaviour for sure. Quite remarkably though, at the end of the DVD, there's this guy "Chabo" who plain out says "Fuck all the Politically Correct kids and mall-punks", and most of these guys show no sign of political or cultural involvement whatsoever. They just brag about how fucking awful their lives have been, and they admit having impulse control problems and an affinity for violence.
OK, maybe we should understand why they are acting like this, considering the fact that life hasn't been good to them, because of malfunctioning governments, corporate interest and bad social security and whatnot, but I don't see violence as a way to resolve any of this. Furthermore, it seems like all their aggression is focused on other kids, instead of towards the ones who they hold responsible for their not so enviable living. What's the point in that?
Interviews with founders of the F.S.U.-crew and bandmembers of Dead Before Dishonor and Blood For Blood don't get me anymore supportive of their causes either. Maybe it's true that people act like sheep and follow a trend too often, but isn't that exactly what they are doing themselves by excluding everyone who thinks different from what they believe in, or who doesn't belong? Their own crew has probably more unwritten rules and regulations (although I'm sure they claim to not have them) than a kid that listens to a popular punkrock band and dresses up like his friends or bands that he watches on MTV. As a matter of fact, I find it hard to believe that certain people will visit their shows, just to start a fight or to harass them, considering the size and posture of the interviewed people. They sure as hell don't look like the feable wuss that would be the center of mockery at a show. Of all the fights that were taped (and they are numerous), there's not one explanation of what the fights are about; you just see a bunch of people brutally beating up one person, including a beating up of superstar Moby, but I have no clue what started it or what the guy really did wrong here. As stated, they would be solely responsible for Nazi-punks and jocks to stay away from hardcore and punkshows thanks to some good beatings.
There's some extras included, featuring old live performances of Wrecking Crew, Ten Yard Fight and In My Eyes. They show how intense these shows can get, and I have no problem with guys going nuts in the pit (I even think it's great), because everyone there knows what to expect when you attend these shows. Also, you'll be able to see how "underground surgery" is done to a guy with a large gaping wound. Yep, these guys have their own doctors in the house, because of course there's no way they can afford professional help. It reminded me of Rambo, but this is real!
When I first read the announcements of this DVD by Crosscheck Records, I mailed them that I didn't like to add releases to our calendar that support violence and beatings. They then claimed that I should see the DVD first and then judge it. Well, I've looked to it thoroughly, and all I can conclude is that to me personally this group of people is not that much better than a bunch of nazi-skin punks. Maybe their motivations are somewhat more understandable, but there's so much similarities with fascist movements (the agression, the intollerance, the gothic printing they use, their flag-adoration, their urge for self-protection, …) which leaves me with the bitter conclusion that I wished they were not a part of the punk scene. In my knowledge I never witnessed a fight once at a punk show over here in Belgium. In fact, our little punk community over here has always been proud of the togetherness and fun they share at concerts. That's what I understand when I speak of "unity", and I always bring that up when I talk about punk music to other people.
I'd advise you to buy this DVD if you're looking for reality streetfights and cruel images, although I must say most of the tapings are amateuristic and recorded in the dark. Actually, it's almost as spectacular as the reality-TV served on our screen everyday. I didn't find good arguments for this behavior, but maybe that's because I never got into these unpleasant life-circumstances. Nevertheless, I think these declarations of F.S.U. members sum it up pretty well: "Given nothing, we are taking everything, making this world a place of our own" and "There's a big misunderstanding here: It's not being a bully or about hating bullies, it was to destroy bullies in union". Now, with this negative review, I just hope I won't get featured as a victim in the 3rd episode of these Boston Beatdown series that should be coming soon. I told you before that I am a pussy, but I think these guys are pathetic. I still have no clue why Chad from New Found Glory (shouldn't he be that mall-punk?) ever endorsed this release.