The Question of Our Time

When Green Day's Dookie dropped, it was like a bomb going off. Mainstream America, jostled from its suburban slumber, ran screaming into the streets … all the way to Tower Records. It wasn't punk's finest hour. But did the band's success kill punk rock, as Billie Joe said? The new documentary Punk's Not Dead presents its side of the rickety "Is punk dead?" debate right there in the title (not dead!), and the filmmakers wheel out legions of old punks (still raring!) to have their say. If punk meant one thing to everyone, the way yacht rock does, then it might be dead. It also might be dead if there were no more basement shows or homegrown scenes, as the film aptly points out. Of course, it's not very punk to go around saying what is not punk, because you never know when some young upstart is going to bite you in the ass. The current crop of upstarts, however, only bite themselves in the ass. (That gnomic singer from Sum 41 who married Avril Lavigne calls his band "pop punk" so he won't get made fun of — but who hasn't made fun of that fucking guy?) One thing is certain: The filmmaker, Susan Dynner, is very much punk. The erstwhile D.C. photographer got her start after seeing Minor Threat as a teenager, and by age 15 she had already shot a slew of fine American bands. Hooray for credibility. Henry Rollins appears in the film, obviously, but so does Ian MacKaye, so mind your elders. It premiered in 2006 in Cannes — which is totally punk … or not — and has since appeared in a host of fests. Now the world gets it.
Sept. 20-24, 7:15 & 9:30 p.m.; Sept. 22-23, 2 & 4:15 p.m., 2007

 
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