By Anna Tergel
February 10th, 2015
Positive Force, born out of a crowd funding campaign, is the story of a youth volunteer activist group of the same name that sprang up in the mid-‘80s Reagan years in Washington DC. Punk rock and benefit shows were a central part of the activism and the basic goal was to live with better values at the footsteps of a corrupt government. The DVD as a documentary takes the bold step of using a Karl Marx image and a quote it attributes to him within its first four minutes.
Mark Andersen, the Positive Force co-founder uses “Revolution has to begin in the ruthless criticism of everything existing”, as an explanation for the “politics of punk”. Interviews with influencers and figures of the time like Penny Rimbaud, co-founder of the English band Crass, are interspersed with images, comics, flyers, editorial cartoons and footage of the times. It is said that Crass’ form of anti-establishment punk formed the basis and made its way across the Atlantic. Interviews and thoughts by the likes of Ian MacKaye of Minor Threat and Fugazi, Skeeter Thompson of Scream who each recall the meetings, the protests, the causes and the disagreements on how to act. Bands like Beefeater, Fugazi, Bikini Girl are seen playing and spreading the word. There is also an interview with Dave Grohl of Nirvana and Foo Fighters fame where he shares his thoughts on the music scene of the late ‘80s and early ‘90s and what it could have possibly achieved and still achieve. The documentary goes on to reveal the differences that developed within the scene as MTV took notice. The question was asked if it was ok to work with and be seen on the mainstream and if the causes were compromised with the smallest hints of popularity. Positive Force exists to this day and it is arguably mainly a local Washington DC organization working on issues like housing. The extras include more live footage from Fugazi, Seven Seconds, Anti-Flag, Soulside, The Evens, Beefeater and Chumbawamba and further in-depth profiles and interviews discussing issues such voting and if it still matters at all.