Style Wars

Has everyone seen this movie but me?  I had to watch it for my summer class, "Dynamic of the City."  Here's why you should watch it too:

  • Lush, defiant, sprawling urban murals. Or, if you prefer, graffiti.  I've never seen anything like it.  Regardless of your personal preference, you have to admit it's refreshingly beautiful.

  • Old-school hip-hop. Before it was all about drugs, misogyny and cop-killing, it was about style.  Several students agreed that if rap still sounded like this, we'd be listening.  Many of the tracks are spliced with footage of break-dancers, another lost art form that has disintegrated into sex and violence.  (And the deadpan voice-over about "rocking your body" is priceless.)

  • A sense of loss. I felt slighted that this movement had come and gone before I was even born (or at least old enough to appreciate it.)  I'm not sure how it ended except by a crackdown of security on the train yards.  The saddest part was watching the taggers turn into entrepreneurs, searching for a way to prolong their creativity -- they suggested a supervised program of train murals with the public voting on which designs it preferred.  It was a great idea, but the MTA scoffed at it and the two retreated to their opposite corners to gear up for the next fight.

Every once in awhile we have a chance to reconcile opponents, to de-polarize opinions, to hold up what we have in common instead of what we disagree about.  Shame on us for looking the other way.