Salt Lake City, Utah

Sex and Violence by The Exploited

Sex and Violence
Sex and Violence
Sex and Violence
Sex and Violence
And those are the highlight of the lyrics. And isn't the heart of Mormon culture absolutely thrilled to have this song for their official place song? But see, it was all made possible by a little gem of music culture we know as the 1998 film SLC Punk!, which picked this, of all songs, as its title theme.

It is almost unthinkable that anyone who is a punk rock fan has not seen SLC Punk!, even if they're only marginally interested in punk rock music and culture. SLC Punk! is not only the definitive film which captures punk culture, it may be one of the most lucid, perceptive, and well-spoken films ever made about any culture, ever.

James Merendino wrote and directed it, based on life experiences that he himself had had... wait for it... growing up as a teen punk rocker in Salt Lake City, Utah, in the early '80s. Yet it is not an autobiography, nor a documentary. It is a fictionalized story, performed by actors - and doing a bang-up job of it, we might add. Yet the style of the film is that of a documentary, so we have a way to examine many real-life facts and many truths of the culture, while taking poetic license so that Stevo can go off on hilarious rants about the origin of punk rock at the Cottonwood mall.

Salt Lake City, where the mountains frame the skyscrapers
Photo: Jason Finn, Dreamstime

Oh, yes, the locations! Any Salt Lake resident should love this film just for the many scenes of the city. West High School in downtown plays the part of the film's high school. Presidents Circle at the University of Utah hosts a scene, as does Memory Grove Park. The funeral is at the Cathedral of the Madeleine, and Bob and Stevo's apartment set is actually the Big D Construction building near Pioneer Park. Street scenes were filmed downtown, the salt flats are visited, on and on.

We're not even close to done raving about this film yet. We still have to mention the soundtrack. As opposed to your typical Hollywood take on punk rock (there must be a green-dyed mohawk haircut present), this film actually put some effort into knowing what they're talking about. So we have an authentic arrangement of the Suicide Machines, the Stooges, Ramones, Velvet Underground, and Dead Kennedys. The real music that punks listened to, not the stuff Hollywood executives think they listened to.

And of course, The Exploited. The Exploited are a Scottish punk band started in 1979. They went from "Oi!"-type folky punk to gritty hardcore punk. Their debut album was - you're going to love this - Punk's Not Dead, released in 1981 and "Sex and Violence" was on that. Consider only that their 2003 album is called F--k the System and you'll see that they've kept the same spirit through the years.

It is so ironic that many conservative or Mormon citizens of the Salt Lake City area would be uncomfortable with having this song and film associated with them. Those that would feel this way, should rest assured that it is a very deep honor to be so commemorated. The film itself treats the area and people with more-or-less respect, and it is impossible to come away from the film not loving SLC just a little bit more than we did before. History may yet show that James Merendino and The Exploited were better PR for Utah than the Salt Lake Temple.

Pete Trbovich
August 16, 2009


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