Friday, 4 December 2009

X Edge Perspectives on Drug Free Culture

Le Pub, Newport 3/12/09

Most of us have good intentions when it comes to promoting and contributing to our hardcore scene but do we have the motivation to do anything of lasting value? How far would we go to communicate our vision or explain our philosophy? What would we give up to show that dedication? I'm trying to help by writing this blog but I am only a few months in and it's not easy writing a commentary without coming across as self-important. I'm trying to offer something new as well but I'm a long way short of that, you don't need to tell me. But I keep going...

All of my efforts are put into perspective by the film X Edge Perspectives on Drug Free Culture. Marc Pierschel and Michael Kirchner have spent years researching, writing, filming and now touring their 'contribution' to the hardcore community. I spoke to them before the screening and the first thing I wanted to know was what had inspired them. They simply felt that the film needed to be made because no one has really shed any light on the Straight Edge scene in the same way that American Hardcore has been covered. There have been a few short documentaries, some of which have unfortunately sensationalised the militant aspect, but they felt there needed to be a more balanced approach. I was not expecting the film to be so comprehensive. It is nothing short of brilliant in the way that it covers all perspectives and leaves the audience completely informed without once being judgemental. Part of the problem with Straight Edge culture is that it usually comes across as uptight preaching but Marc and Michael cleverly interview veterans of the scene to put it all into context. People like Ian Mackaye, Ray Cappo, Karl Buechner and Russ Rankin have seen it all, rolled with the changes, ignored the bitching and got on with their lives, constantly finding new ways to express their world views. X Edge is not just content with letting these elder statesmen do all of the talking though. The directors then bravely move on to give Straight Edge exposure and validity in all areas of our struggle for equality and freedom. They look at the environment, feminism, animal rights and workers' co-operatives, carefully choosing people that can give an extra layer of meaning to the film as a whole. The film shows that Straight Edge is about keeping clear focus so that the constant battle for change can be waged without distraction and with total efficiency. X Edge ends with the views of an american college lecturer who specialises in studying youth subcultures. He intelligently explains that our community is a culture of more than music. It is a vehicle for justice that we share and can all use. This conclusion draws all of the elements of the film together perfectly. Marc Pierschel and Michael Kirchner know precisely how to modestly and objectively present their story. They know that the important thing in all of this is not them but the community. They have carried this message around the US and in Europe and told me that they have always been well looked after by the people that they have visited. Their shows in the US were attended by the high profile names with Karl Buechner taking time to fully publicise the event in a Syracuse daily newspaper and Ian MacKaye brought his young daughter along. The screenings also served to educate the wider public including some parents of straight edge kids too. There should be no underestimating the effect and legacy that this film has and will create. Everyone needs to see it so that we fully value our potential for positive action.

X Edge is scheduled for release on DVD in March 2010.

Marc and Michael will now return home to Germany and will continue working for a non-profit vegan collective (

Special thanks should go to Grim who brought X Edge to Wales and looked after Marc and Michael. Check out and to support all of his work.

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