Penelope Spheeris talks with Michael Stock before a screening of her 1998 documentary, “Decline of Western Civilization Part III”.
Spheeris describes her discovery of punk, the production of her first “Decline of Western Civilization” movie (1981), and her feature “Suburbia” (1984). She observes that “Suburbia” and “Decline III” are the same movie, dealing with homeless teens creating alterative, authentic families. “Decline III” differs from the two previous movies in the series in being less about bands and more about the punk lifestyle in the street, focusing on social issues as much as music. She sums up, “It has to do with ethics, and values, and being an honest person. Being kind and having good intentions. It looks chaotic and looks violent and looks nuts but, at the end of the day, these people are what I consider to be fine, fine human beings. And that’s the way I want to be.”
Spheeris and Stock conclude with a discussion of homelessness in Los Angeles, her unreleased Ozzfest documentary, the variety of different media employed in “Decline III”, and the possibility of a “Decline IV”.