Friday, February 17, 2006


Suburbia. 1984. dir. Penelope Spheeris.

Meet The Rejected.

Evan's alcoholic mother causes an accident while driving under the influence. Joe's father spends all his time with a boyfriend at the pool. Sheila's father sexually and physically abuses her. The common strand uniting them was their home... The T.R. home.

Amplifying the levels of parental negligence and teenage delinquency, Suburbia was one of the first films directed by Penelope Spheeris (Wayne's World, Black Sheep). As with most of her films, music plays a central theme. While most of the contemporary films of the 80's were largely built upon synth-based orchestral movements (in the dark), Spheeris documents the early 80's hardcore punk scene (as she had previously done with The Decline of Western Civilization). There is great concert footage of D.I., The Vandals, and T.S.O.L., with accurate slam dancing and violence depicted among concert goers. Of course, the hardcore punk of the time was vital, angry, loud, and passionate. It was the music of rejects, for rejects.

The Rejected home is a squatter pad. It is filthy, insect-infested, vandalized, dilapidated, and Razzle (played by Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers) allows his rat to crawl all around him. However, unlike the kids' real homes, there is an actual sense of familial warmth. The physical chaos of it belies the fact that they are better off in their own little world together, than in a society unwilling to give them a chance.

They are all dirt poor, thus they have to steal food and supplies to live. Ethical debates could be brought up regarding this issue. The kids can't work, so they can't make money. They could go back to their parents, but their parents neglect them. They need to satisfy Maslow's hierarchy of needs, even though they know their lives are heading for a dead end. The most they can do is enjoy the moments they have with each other before the trouble gets too out of hand.

This film depicts the Lost Angeles punk lifestyle circa 1984. Sure, much of it was fashion, but most of it was real life. Films like Ferris Bueller's Day Off and Heathers painted parents as clueless and comedic. However, Suburbia bitterly indicts parents as being too involved in their own problems to actually care for their kids.

I do not recommend this film to animal lovers or those who think children are cute. There are some pretty violent scenes. I do recommend this film to those who dig 80's hardcore punk (which is the only punk that exists in my world). Favorite scene: as a redneck coaxes his friend into vigilante action because of a violent incident involving The Rejected, the screen pans out exposing them in a strip bar as he says, "I don't consider myself a religious person, but that's just downright sinful."

For those interested, here is the trailer:

1 comment:

Vladigogo said...

quite the difference from Wayne's World