The Decline of Western Civilization was for many years like catnip to rock nerds everywhere. It had it all: exclusivity (only available on VHS or bootlegs), insight (footage of major bands before they were famous) and cache (punk rock rules!). Iconoclastic filmmaker Penelope Spheeris released the series in three parts over 17 years, although Part I stands out as the most famous. In honor of a full-blown DVD re-release in 2015 Noisey compiled a four-part oral history of the groundbreaking documentary.
Part I “detailed the Los Angeles punk scene as it transformed from a dangerous dayglow playground of drunken mischief into ground zero for the grim, tough-as-nails testosterone driven genesis of American Hardcore Punk.”
Part II covers the metal scene and the logistical difficulties of filming punk/metal shows.
Part III covers the gutter-punk scene and the clash between new punk and the greying originals.
Part IV talks about the documentary’s 17-year release process and legacy