We are going to keep this short. One song, Great low budget film, and no Laugh track. c. 1984. I Promise.
In My unremarkable youth we were in a recession and many teens had it far worse than me, but it was clear that even Hollywood was tapped into the main vein of our major U.S. recession. As always happens the counterculture seems to be first to fire shots across the bow of our squalor. But this movie hit home. Everyone at the base of our food pyramid bought “Generics”, which for the uninitiated is not a Pharmacy term, but one forged in the crucible of hard-times. Advertised Brands were basically too expensive, so major retail Grocers stocked their shelves with un-marketed, blank labelled, canned, dried, and packaged goods which contained in some cases the seconds, from the same factories who made Brand-Name foods. And so generics were invented. Grocery shopping became an embarrassment when one was caught with a cart-load of "generics" beside someone you knew, who could yet afford the real name brand foods, like Dole, DelMonte, or Folgers... Generics were not the same as the name brands, but people needed to eat, and stores hadn't yet invented their own "store-brands" so bare black-n-white labels bore the stigma and the shame of inflation era super-market surplus. We ate casseroles made from Generics, Powdered milk, and No-name bread. We relished in Re-runs, Kung Fu, Bones Brigade, Sit-coms, with crappy laugh tracks, Archie Bunker, Gilligan's Island, & The Gong Show. When edgier films geared toward people a bit below bar, made their way to VHS or Beta... We rented. One such film bracketed [outcast youth] in a recession almost perfectly -- It was "Repo Man". Here is the Preview Reel at IMDB.
As with art & budget epics, imitation is in fact the sincerest form of flattery, and The real "Repo Man" (1984) didn't imitate as much as it set a new bar. This dystopian reality fiction would later be emulated in a sort-of remake, while phrases and conventions forged in Repo Man were integrated in many subsequent main-stream films. In fact the brief-case from Pulp Fiction was basically a nod to the "Trunk" in Repo Man, if not as toxic.
It's no stretch that Sy Richardson's character in "Repo Man" and in "Straight to Hell" (another film from the same director) forged future outrageous film styles and characters like Samuel L. Jackson, in Pulp Fiction, (as he plays in just about every film). You can find out more about mystery brief-cases, outlandish characters, and alien trunk contents, when you re-watch "Repo Man" and "Pulp Fiction". ...Then you can watch "Straight to Hell" & "Syd and Nancy" when you are bored, and unemployed.
But do watch the original Repo Man, directed by Alex Cox, to review a typical 80's dystopian youth.
For reference, this key track is linked @ Youtube, in the image above. Listen in a new tab, and let it roll. This track is a slow burn version of the faster Punk Original by the Circle Jerks called, "When the Shit Hits the Fan". It's really worth a listen -- But the whole bright soundtrack to this film rubbed rainbow crayons into the monochrome coloring book of an 80's youth. Shared adolescent blahs from Brixton to Benton Harbor, fueled a creative rebound. Weened on black and white re-runs, and generic canned goods, a colorful denim & flannel generation was pushed out into a stagnate job market. Every kid had the blues, from The UK, to Scotland, from Denmark, to Jamaica... and nobody really knew it, simply because if you were a teen in 1983 you were forged in this numb glop, and you didn't know otherwise. Whether your walkman played Ska, Punk, Pop, Rap, or Reggae -- the disaffected crafted one hell of a mix-tape which backstopped an awkward time to grow up.
As history repeats itself, it's no real shocker that kids then, as now, have no real (Blues) appropriate soundtracks to sweat this one out... That was, until the Repo Man Soundtrack dropped. We can talk about Hip-hop and Teen-angst bands another time, but what summarizes the early eighties scratching crawl from the muck-and-mire of a giant recession, was the tempest of styles, raw emotion, bad production , and piss-poor acting -- This made a macabre feature film a perfect analog to what's coming your way today.
We never owned a new pair of anything in 1984, and in fact it was our frequent Thrift shopping which led to corporate chains (Urban Outfitters), selling "Thrift-like" clothes, and new clothes that looked "Thrift". We were fully immersed in this, but not ironically, as today. We simply couldn't buy cheap asian clothes, and so we bought used, and wore thread-bare hand-me-downs. We patched knees, and elbows, and shit -- when they wore thin, we tore them on-purpose. Seems odd that just last week we bought our jeans pre-torn from China.
Grunge revisited this thrifty chasm a decade later dipping their toe in the pool of anti-fashion flannel. Then again two decades later (basically last year), ironic nerdy "Hipsters" absconded the same 'fashion-backward' posture buying up golden-rod wool sweater vests -- Pirouetting from their plank head-first into the poverty-pool -- They quenched their whole being in hideous Carol Burnett, and Telly Savalas kitsch smelling of moth-balls.
So that's really all I have today is a nod to an Orwellian 1984 drama. Bookmarked by Bowie's Awesome Song of the same name, and this ironic lounge track "When the Shit Hits the Fan" by the Circle Jerks, slowed down for the B-Film of that Iconic Year Produced by Michael Nesmith of The Monkey's, which just basically sums up our new normal.
A solid recession Film Recommendation shot near Los Alamos Lab to help you self-medicate and reflect upon where we are headed. Forewarned is forearmed, right? and well... we blew that, ...so Watch this movie, enjoy it's soundtrack, with some generic corn flakes, and think about how your hand-me-downs can help a neighbor, nephew or the next decade's fashionista in our re-run economy.
A solid Interview with director Alex Cox of Repo Man, Sid and Nancy, and other Punk percolations is linked here:
Age and Treachery will overcome youth and skill.