Wednesday, April 09, 2008

National Geographic goes ‘Inside Straight Edge’

Two years ago, I did an in-depth cover story for a weekly in Florida called "Living on the Edge," a feature that explored the two sides of the “straight edge” culture.

Straight edge? You know, the don't drink, don't smoke subculture of usually younger middle-to-upper class white males connected with the philosophy of abstaining from what they call poisons—everything from the consumption of illegal chemicals such as ecstasy, speed and pot to legal substances such as alcohol, cigarettes and sometimes caffeine.

Sounds like a parent's dream? Not so fast.

The National Geographic Channel explores straight-edge crews in an explosive documentary called "Inside Straight Edge" airing 10 p.m. Wednesday, April. 9.

The program also airs 1 a.m. Thursday, April 10 and 4 p.m. Sunday, April 13 on NGC.

The special, narrated by Sonic Youth legend Thurston Moore, touches on the handful of reported cases of straight-edge violence in Salt Lake City, Reno and even in Boston (a crew known as FSU, "Friends Stand United," allegedly assaulted drug dealers and users on Lansdowne Street).

For the record, a large majority of those who claim "edge" are good kids with a strong passion for hardcore music. However, like any group, there are a few bad apples in the bunch.

Back in 2006, I interviewed Ian MacKaye, founder of Dischord Records in Washington D.C. and former frontman of the punk band Minor Threat, about the term he coined. He wrote the song "Straight Edge," however, he doesn't claim responsibility for the entire movement.

When asked if he had issues with the contemporary evolution of the lifestyle, MacKaye shoots back.

"You have the five percent who are fundamentalists," he says. "And, within that five percent, you have even a smaller group that has a fascination with violence."

MacKaye continues: "Their issue is not sobriety. It's with violence. People with violence in the belly are in search of a trigger and way to get the violence out."

The outspoken musician is referring to the handful of militants who claim edge—called "hate edge"—where the straight-edge crews attack people for smoking or sometimes liken themselves as soldiers of sobriety.

Near the end of the documentary that airs tonight, a Boston-area eighth grader talks about the violent side of the movement.

“We’re not going to go out and kill people, but I’m not going to tolerate drugs around me and the ones that I love,” he adds.


Anonymous said...

Do you mean Wednesday, April 9? or Friday April, 11? Thanks for the clarification!

Sam Baltrusis said...

Sorry about that. It's 10 p.m. Wednesday, April 9.

Sam Baltrusis said...

"Inside Straight Edge" also airs 1 a.m. Thursday, April 10 and 4 p.m.
Sunday, April 13 on the National Geographic Channel.

Alyson said...

I think it's always fascinating to look at the number of ways a seemingly good idea can be corrupted and the ways that a corrupt idea can be displayed as good. There are pretty much an infinite number of either of these. Maybe they should throw in a clause - against drugs, drink, sex, VIOLENCE. For tolerance of differences and ideas that contradict our own. I'm pretty sure there's a loophole I don't see in there too.

Anonymous said...

THANK YOU! straight edge kids are so ill. i don't wear a shirt that says i drink and smoke, keep that stuff to yourself, i never meet nice straight edge kids, they're like born again christians, always akward, o and violent. they're like punk kids, they have no were to fit in, it's like a fraternity of either scene or scum kids. FSU should realize they cause more problems then the drugs! and retire there unintelligent society_ they are practically terrorists to the country.

Anonymous said...

Oh hell. Okay Anonymous... i'll show you a terrorist act. You have no idea what your talking about and neither does National Geographic. Shove it.

Matt Thornton said...

Dear Anonymous. I'm straight edge yet I don't associate myself with any form of religion at all I think it's a waste. I've never beaten up someone for doing drugs. Unless they've started shit with me. I don't even look like I'd be straight edge. I'm not your typical hardcore kid. I mostly listen to upbeat positive music. Haha just look for yourself. I've got a ton of friends from all different races, colors, religions, beliefs, and style. People around here accept and know that I'm straight edge, and they're totally fine with it. SOME of the kids did some stupid things and we all get a bad rep for it, it's horrible. I can assure you most of us have good intentions and most of us don't shove our beliefs down peoples throats or beat people up. I for one hate gangs and ganging up on people. It just shows weakness. Trust me, we're not all like that at all. It's like saying all rappers smoke pot. When there are straight edge rappers like Sage Francis. Maybe you should learn more about what you run your mouth about before you speak ya know? There's no need to be discriminative. Think about it.

Anonymous said...

This comment is directed to everyone who believes that straight edge kids are almost always violent. That is NOT the case, sure i got some boys down in reno that tear it up on kids that smoke and drink ect. but there are also young adults like myself that are what you call posi(Positive). Im not going to beat around the bush though, straight edge has gotten a bad rep over the years but then again can you really blame us? I was extremely ridiculed for my beliefs when i was teen. It can really drive you over the deep end and lash out. But for the most part (as the commentor said above me) that for the most part straight edge kids are good, positive people.

Anonymous said...

you have to understand, theres good and bad things about every group.

yes theres kids that beat people up and kill and that IS wrong but most of us are just people trying to live a clean life.

and to those of you that have been out casted or treated rudely by an edge person i apologize

Anonymous said...

its just like cops, most of us trust them and beleive they are good people
but of course there's a few of them that abuse their power and blackmail and all of that junk.

no group is absolutely perfect.

XexxonvaldezX said...

Maybe us sXe kids don't want to be part of your community. The real issue here is that somehow ingesting mind altering substances has become the societal norm. I say fuck that. Fuck social drinking, and fuck all the bitches that just go along with it because it's the average thing to do. If society has a problem with sXe, the I have a problem with society. Fuck this shit.

xKKx said...

I completely support edge kids beating down drug dealers. Its better to have a few clean kids fuck up a drug dealer than to have a drug dealer fuck up a few clean kids.

Anonymous said...

these kids are the biggest bunch of faggots i've ever's only a matter of time till the real gangsters find them and bash them.straight edge= faggot meet up partys

STFU Already said...

I thought documentaries were supposed to be "objective"? All I saw going on here was alot of horn tooting from a group of little kids from Anytown USA posturing for the camera. It is phenomenal how far SxE has devolved from it's origins. Thanx for making my hometown the "pivotal front-line" for the SxE movement. Reed High school in Sparks Nevada? OMFG get a grip. I would have been far more interested in seeing how this is being played out in Philadelphia or Los Angeles than scrubsville. The first 30 minutes should have been spent on more history or SxE or the entire documentary focused on what the "SxE" turned cop does on a day to day basis. Nice to carefully omit "Club Underground" as the downtown venue btw. All these gang minded ROBOJOCKS need is a Fuhrer to give them orders. Founders of the SxE movement have dissociated themselves with this farce. These kids have nothing to do with any "movement" whatsoever. Likening themselves to Frat Jocks was worth a good chuckle. National Geographic should be embarrassed at this waste of time and money. I wonder if they will do an hour long "documentary" on "ICP" next and call it worthwhile? I had to turn this tripe off 5 minutes before it was over, watching 14 year olds posturing like members of the Wu-Tang clan made me almost as furious as I am at their parents. There are two kinds of people in the world, leaders and followers. Take a guess where you fall within these margins. The producer of this nugget should be sent to work on the Geraldo Rivera show for the rest of his short career. Truly misinformative, unrepresentative and ridiculous. There is far better out there.
-HARDCORE by Steven Blush comes to mind immediately.

Anonymous said...

That documentary sucked. Get in line with the rest of the "gang" oriented youths sucking up this street thug crapola sold to us by MTV and Massive Record Companies. SxE has become the ideal idiocy brainwashed from birth suburban youth the Reagan Era always wanted. Its all about controlling your impressionable minds kiddies. Next stop burning poppy fields in Afghanistan and Honduras. See it for what it is.

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