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This Film is Loud - But You Shouldn't Be

Saw a screening of Punk the Capital: Building a Sound Movement, a 2019 doc on the 1970s-80s punk scene in Washington, D.C., by filmmakers James June Schneider, Paul Bishow and Sam Lavine. Fantastic depiction of life in Reagan's boring old Moral Majority D.C., under an invasion by groundbreakers like Ian MacKaye (Teen Idles, Minor Threat, Fugazi), H.R. (Bad Brains), and others who pushed the music, along with the politics, into some new, amazing directions. The film speaks for itself – 'nuff said, etc.

But there is plenty to bring up about the privilege of going back to the movies after the pandemic. This is no criticism of The Charles, which hosted the film. What can we do with people who simply won't be quiet during the movie? Like, at all? What's the protocol? Come on – we've been stuck inside for more than a year. Is this what we have to look forward to?

This person talked, loudly, throughout the entire doc. After it ended, he decided to go off about "Baltimore punks were always better than D.C. punks." The filmmakers, who were taking questions, asked him to elaborate. He would not. He left, highly agitated. Then they asked the audience if we wanted him to come back. The highest dBs of the night were reached in that moment: "NOOOO!!" Cue the applause.

It's not the venue's fault. It's not the responsibility of the crowd. Also, as my friend Chris Justice pointed out, carrying on during a film may seem like a punk move – but most assuredly, it is not. It's as non-punk and rockist as possible. I'm sure MacKaye would agree.

It doesn't matter, much. Seek out this film. It's an essential document about a crucial era in modern music.

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