Learning the harp - how to take the first steps
Punk Rock as a genre of music has been haunting the world for several decades now, yet it seems to have long lost its shocking effect; Instead, it has become an essential part of popular culture. The dirty, mostly self-made clothing studded with provocative patches that visually displayed the displeasure with society has, over time, transformed into countless fashion accessories which are dispensed as punk and serve the great alienating capitalist machine on purpose.
Even today´s music has the same raging anger to offer as it did when punk was a real lifestyle and therefore an outsider genre. That is precisely what the English term "punk" derives from: Outsiders, degenerated from the social hierarchy and condemned to lead a hard and unfulfilled life away from the societal norm. What once defined the iconic pioneers of this cultural and musical revolution seemed, in the inexorable flow of time, to fade more and more in the background and make way for mass-produced, commercially successful music without any authenticity. But then came GG...
Hated by Todd Phillips, who later gained high recognition through films such as “The Hangover” and, most recently, “Joker”, tells the insanely obscene story of the punk rock character GG Allin and his former band The Murder Junkies, from the late 1980s up to 1993, and became one of the most notorious representatives of the entire Punk Rock movement. Anyone who believed that punk was merely an image will be taught a crude lesson when viewing this documentary.
For almost an hour Phillips documents the massive excesses during the US tour ´93, which was ended prematurely in a tragic way by the abrupt death of its protagonist. This documentary is available for free on YouTube for those who can spend an hour diving into the deepest abysses of one of the most deeply disturbed individuals in the history of Punk Rock and seeing how seriously some people really took it.
The film begins with a quote from serial killer John Wayne Gacy, who, as it turns out in the course of the documentary, maintained regular contact with GG. Gacy was known to be one of the most accessible killers in the United States, as he routinely allowed pen pals and personal visits from admirers, one of whom was GG Allin. In this quote, Gacy GG praises Allin for his art of showing a sick society what is within it, and that he has the potential to create a new revolutionary movement.
Gacy explicitly mentions that GG was not just a provocateur, that a brain or vision was behind all the perfidious work. Directly after that, the director himself begins to reminiscence, namely how he first saw the band live in 1988, and how GG caused a riot there, in which he started fights with the audience and stumbled down the stairs several times covered in blood.
Shortly after the concert, GG was brought to trial for physically assaulting two women, but Phillips contacted his brother and bass player Merle, who was ultimately willing to contact GG in person when Phillips told him about his plan to make a documentary about the band. At that time, GG had a suspended sentence of two years, which enabled him to complete the tour and the documentation.
The focus of the documentary is set on the 1993 US tour, mostly told by GG and Merle, but also former members who have a completely different opinion than GG, as well as former school acquaintances, a music teacher and superfan named Unk, who contributes much to the biting tone of the documentary. In general, it should be mentioned what a raw, dirty, almost DIY-like look Hated has, as if someone has grabbed the first best camera and arbitrarily started to photograph the world around them. Only the music of the band is being used throughout the entire documentary. This is clearly in the spirit of GG Allin's nature, for he and his men boasted of being the most disgusting, odious specimens of the entire punk movement.
Ex-guitarist Chicken John vehemently disagrees with GG's philosophy, which is explicitly refuted in the documentary, because he believes that GG has no artistic integrity and is merely a sad man who only unnecessarily provokes and attracts attention, bringing out the most negative characteristics. According to him, there is no constructive criticism, only transgressions.
According to GG's own words, he confirms that if he hadn´t had the artistic output in the form of punk rock, he would have ended up on death row of a penitentiary like John Wayne Gacy, since his hatred of the world would most likely have resulted in multiple, violent murders. Über- Fan Unk agrees with this statement in that GG possessed a burning hatred towards any form of authority, which links back to his violent, dominant father, and lived it out every day, not just on stage. A vagabond of modernity, which according to his own statement only owned one set of clothes and constantly watchfully scans his environment, in case of a spontaneous escape from the police, if necessary.
His brother Merle says that the main difference between them is that he pays for his tattoos and GG finds someone willing to go out in a frenzy with needles, ink etc. to decorate his body with handmade tattoos.
Director Todd Phillips points out several times within the documentary, much like Gacy's early quote, that GG Allin represented a side of America that most American people did not dare to think of. An alienated, directionless minority was attracted to GG's words and found in him a worthy representative, the punk rocker with a death wish. Part social commentator, GG lived outside the norm, constantly charged and unpredictable, and he himself meant that a conventional definition of a conforming existence only served to give the powerful more power over regular people and to be kept in check.
During a talk show GG Allin describes his body as a temple of rock´n´roll, and everything that this body produces is presented to the audience at the live ritual. This is a reference to his obscene performances, in which he relieved himself on stage and began to throw his excrement at the audience, if he wasn´t physically attacking them already, which was an integral part of his live routine. In the same interview, GG Allin calls for more danger in rock music, since the spirit of rock´n´roll has been lost and gave way to a passive, state- and ideology-conforming farce, for which rock music at its core, is essential for rebellion and alternative discourses in a world supported by only one opinion. For a long time, GG Allin announced his public suicide because he intended to sacrifice his life to rock´n´roll, but this act did not happen, which caused some displeasure within the GG Allin fanbase, which is explicitly mentioned in the documentary.
Originally, GG wanted to strap C4 around his body and spectacularly commit suicide during a live performance and claim a few lives in the process. Finally, on July 28, 1993, he died after an overdose of heroin after one of his most violent concerts, which the film also documents. His death was to become something that Rock´n´Roll could not ignore, in the end he died like a typical rock star in typical rock star fashion.
With Hated, a cinematic memorial was created for one of the most manic and tragic figures within the punk rock movement, who drastically and bluntly expressed the abysses of a derailing society with his art and which ultimately cost him his life. The world of music is filled with interesting fates and unbelievable events, and if you want more and can move outside of your usual comfort zone without any problems, then take a closer look at mukken's blog here! Artist profiles, insightful articles on working with music programs, guides to singing techniques and instrument playing guides, and much more are here to be discovered because music brings people together and creates more human interconnectivity.
Originally published on January 31, 2023, updated on January 31, 2023
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