Classic Film Review: Shield Around the K

Full Title: The Shield Around the K
Director: Heather Rose Dominic
Year: 2000
Comments:

The title says it all. The metaphorical shield truly represented K’s mythical way of battling the corporate ogre in a unique and highly confrontational manner. For those sad souls out there that are unfamiliar with K, here’s a brief breakdown. K was and still is a defiantly and charismatically independent label; one of the greatest models for how an indepedent label can successfully operate. Calvin Johnson (K founder and Beat Happening frontman) challenged his audience and contemporaries by creating and documenting music that was unabashedly simple, coy, and as far away as possible from the mainstream. These kids challenged the mold of expecation of what a Punk band should look, sound, or act like. By making poppy, “twee,” love rock (as some call it), artists like Beat Happening distanced themselves from not only the corporate world, but also the oft-macho hardcore scene, which was dominating underground music at the time. All in all, this doc does a great job of articulating this important aspect of K Records as well as offering some great archive footage, interviews, and music videos and ultimately a detailed, informative backgound of said topic. One thing I (sorta) didn’t like was the fact that the film focused too much on Beat Happening; after all it was supposed to be about the K label and not about Beat Happening solely. Then again, they and their history are obviously vital to the K tale and since they are one of my all time favorite bands, I don’t mind seeing them on screen. Lastly, this doc features various key figures including, Ian Mackaye, Gerad Cosloy, Slim Moon, John Foster, amongst others. So, if you dig cutting edge (well, then cutting edge) Punk Rock or want to learn more about seminal, underground music then grab some black candy and check it out.

Grade
: B+

Ian’s Integrity

I’ve always agreed with many of his views and maybe not musically, but he has inspired me lol in various ways. I think it’s reasonable to say a band is no longer “Punk” if they sign to a major label, but for me that doesn’t mean they instantly become nothing. That Rage record is quality whether there’s a little Epic sign or a little Dischord sign on it.

Chris

My MAIN Influences

Of course I have encountered several diverse voices over the years that have influenced me in various ways, but there are a select few that have strongly shaped my specific perspective/philosophy. With that being said, technically my environment has been my biggest influence, but just for fun here’s some real people in no particular order.

Bill Hicks: Biting, caustic social/political satire. Love KO Fear!



Noam Chomsky
: Dissent of mainstream American media and American foreign (as well as domestic) policy. Basic anarchist ideas such as the necessity of the state to justify its actions or it should be dismantled.

Rage Against the Machine: Perhaps my oldest influence; their music drew me to such topics and increased my cynicism/hatred for the American government. They also led me to discover Chomsky.



John Lennon
: “Give Peace a Chance” :)



Howard Zinn
: Brought new meaning to the words “history,” “patriotism,” and “resistance,” for me. Helped me understand that the people on the bottom rung of society make the fundamental changes and not those on top.

Ralph Nader: It is possible to create change within the system and run honest campaigns, even if you don’t win them! Often refer to him for current politics.

Timothy Leary: Fantastic propagandist and overall champion of social change through new ways of experimentation.

The Yippies!: Chiefly Abbie Hoffman (right) and Jerry Rubin (left). Their wacky/bizarre media tactics and dissection of Amerika has been one of my biggest influences on both my writing and philosophy. I adore the equal importance of fun and revolution. After all, how can you have liberation without some kind of joy?

Hunter S. Thompson: Sarcastic social commentary; major influence on my own writing/sense of humor and early social/political influence.

Malcolm X: Provided with the great insight into the hardships of blacks in America and how we raped them of their culture. This doesn’t mean I can relate to this personally, but it does offer me a perspective and has shaped my opinions on these matters. His speeches, writings, etc. have also stood as great examples of how to make an argument with integrity and also how what the institution teaches you is usually false with the complete opposite intent. So, for Malcolm it was White is NOT right and Black is beautiful. For me it’s the media’s purpose is to (Mis)inform the public.

Emma Goldman: The beauty and basic principles of Anarchism.

Dave Dellinger: One of the greatest models of a nonviolent revolutionary; he was the American Gandhi. Stressed the importance of love and social justice in all movements. I’m proud to say one of the most inspiring Americans shares the same hometown as me!

Jello Biafra: Culture Jam! Pranksterism. Perhaps some of my first glimpses at anarchism. Similar to Yippies! but with more serious objectives: Anti-War, end War On Drugs, and so much more. Like Chomsky, Nader, and others, Jello is one of my key political references. For many that probably sounds frightening haha!

Judge James P. Gray: I owe much of the factual basis for my arguments for bringing down this filthy machine known as the War on Human Rights, excuse me, excuse me, I mean the War on (certain!) Drugs to my boy Jim. My views on this topic were basically already there, but I can sharply back them up with the help of the judge’s wise and so obviously reasonable suggestions. Since, he falls from the center-right on the political spectrum, he and I would more than likely disagree on a host of issues. With that being said, he is spot on with his indictment of our current prohibition and I highly recommend his book, Why Our Drug Laws Have Failed and What We Can Do About It.



Mumia Abu-Jamal
: His strikingly accurate views on a plethora of issues, particularly race relations and constant investigation of this corrupt and sick government. His story serves as one of the best arguments for how fucked up our criminal/prison system really is. FREE MUMIA NOW!



Steve Albini
: Tearing down major labels and any other faggedy artist in sight in the most offensive way. Merciless satire at its finest!

Ian Mackaye: DIY Punk Ethic/Aesthetic. You can’t put a dollar sign on your art and if you do then you should be in a different business!

Chris