Film Review: Punk’s Not Dead

sex-pistols-280x200.jpgThere are three confusing things about Susan Dynner‘s new fun-to-watch documentary Punk’s Not Dead: the beginning, the middle, and the end. Here’s why: Candid, funny, and insightful interview clips with the likes of Joe Strummer, Johnny Rotten, and Johnny Ramone, are great, but why, when punk is thriving, keeping on, and having fun, start off a documentary called “Punk’s Not Dead” with three ’70s rockers, two of whom have passed away?

The middle of the film gives an accurate, entertaining, informed, and spot-on portrayal of the punk scenes that developed, thrived, hocked loogies on people, flipped people off, and destroyed amplifiers through the 80s, and then gained mainstream acceptance in the 90s.

Alas, the ending: A rushed montage/collage of young punk-ish bands from all over the world who, I’m guessing, submitted rough video clips of their bands playing, but don’t really get much screen time or real interviews.

Soooo, why is a film called “Punk’s Not Dead” centered on its expansion into mainstream blandness available for purchase at Hot Topic? I mean, it’s always interesting to hear folks like Fugazi’s Ian Mackaye talk about starting his own label, or the Circle Jerks’ Keith Morris make fun of suburban mall culture, but haven’t we seen that a few times before? Lord knows punk culture, as fascinating as it is, has hardly gone undocumented.

This film, as solid as it is, doesn’t get us inside today’s dive bars, Elks Lodges, and warehouses throughout the U.S. and abroad to feel, hear, and (whoa!) smell those fiery, new local music scenes.

Now there’s a documentary I’d love to see.


In 2014, before Donald Trump announced his run for president, we knew we had to do something different to address the fundamental challenge facing journalism: how hard-hitting reporting that can hold the powerful accountable can survive as the bottom falls out of the news business.

Being a nonprofit, we started planning The Moment for Mother Jones: A special campaign to raise $25 million for key investments to make Mother Jones the strongest watchdog it can be. Five years later, readers have stepped up and contributed an astonishing $23 million in gifts and future pledges. This is an incredible statement from the Mother Jones community in the face of the huge threats—both economic and political—against the free press.

Read more about The Moment and see what we've been able to accomplish thanks to readers' incredible generosity so far, and please join them today. Your gift will be matched dollar for dollar, up to $500,000 total, during this critical moment for journalism.

We Recommend


Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.


Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.


We have a new comment system! We are now using Coral, from Vox Media, for comments on all new articles. We'd love your feedback.