Style Wars chronicles the prolific (and covert) graffiti "bombers" of 1970s New York and the old skool hip hop culture that helped develop it. In addition to offering some of the finest visuals of graffiti art ever to grace the cars of New York City's subway system, the film captures an intimate portrait of inner city youth culture at a time when hip hop was less than a household term. Style Wars is regarded by many as the definitive document of the emerging hip hop culture, an emblem of the original, embracing spirit of what at the time was an underground movement born out of a myriad of factors (economics, race relations, teenage aleination). The film's backdrop includes superb footage of early street rappers, break dancers and an old skool style that seems so removed from today's hip hop trends. The film also chronicles city authorities opposition to this guerilla art form, a conflict that should be familiar to Victoria audiences.
THE RINGER. (Jeff Leiberman; 1972, 18min.)
The Ringer is a long lost, but recently restored anti-drug film produced by Pepsi for the strung out Pepsi generation (was it the drugs or the cola that induced these levels of toxicity?). Hired filmmaker Jeff Leiberman (BLUE SUNSHINE, 1978) was brought on board to make a film that "could speak to kids in a manner that educational films have traditionally failed." In the spirit of (The Baffler founder) Thomas Frank's Conquest of the Cool, this twenty minute film weaves a deftly intricate position on the culture industry and its co-optation of everything that is born in the margins (pop music, piercings, sytle etc). Highly original in its approach and downright hilarious when considered in the context of educational/ephemeral films of its era, this gem has to be seen to be believed. While The Ringer may not get you off drugs it will certainly have you thinking about subversive style and its inevitable co-optation by mainstream culture. Chances are after seeing this film, you will toss out that nose ring you purchased at the mall last week.