With an angry title that makes itself plainly clear much later in this film, Bastards Of the Party is probably the best documentary on Los Angeles gangs to date. Directed by Cle Shaheed Sloan this movie has an authentic quality that even the best documentary films cannot touch. As an Athen's Park Blood, Sloan is no longer a gang banger but he's stayed in it because he feels that that is the way to make the most positive and impactful change. While some people might feel that that isn't the best way to make the kinds of headway that Sloan ultimately wants to make, I think anybody who sees this documentary will realize that things aren't black and white (not racially and not in terms of how things need to be ultimately resolved).
First of all, Bastards Of the Party begins in the 1960s and it traces the evolution of Black gangs up until the present day. Originally, these gangs formed because a lot of White people in Los Angeles didn't want Blacks around. So initially, the groups were started out of self preservation. You had organizations like the Black Panthers and US. As time wore on, the Government started to get nervous about the sense of empowerment that these groups elicited amongst Black people. Suddenly, you have these organizations that are trying to do positive things in the community, fighting with each other. Around the time the 1970s came around, you have American jobs that didn't require degrees going to other countries. With so people unemployed they started looking for other ways to make money so they could feed their families.
In the 1980s groups like the Crips and Bloods formed not be gangs but to help their communities. The problem with this is the system had been so messed up by outside forces, that it was only a matter of time before that good will (which was constantly stunted) began to manifest itself as a lot of Black on Black crime. In the 1990s, once the whole Rodney King incident happened this seemed to inspire these rival gangs to try and work together. The only problem is that all it takes is a few people who are never going to let go of losing a loved one in previous gang violence for things to turn ugly again. Well, this sadly happened very quickly. Bastards Of the Party leaves things with these groups trying to figure out a way to not end the gangs so much as they to try and bring them back to their original goals and ideals.
It is really sad that the system is so messed up now that the changes required seem almost impossible. They aren't... but it's a sad reality that the problems the Crips and the Bloods face are so deep rooted, so profoundly complex (and that's unfortunately the way the Government likes it), that things look as bleak as they do. Also, all those jobs that left the US economy could come back in droves and it probably wouldn't matter. First of all, our population has grown to the point that there's now way more people then there are jobs. Lets just say that there was enough jobs for everybody, why in the world would someone opt to work in a factory now when they can make a lot more money (and not have to break their backs) doing other kinds of work like dealing drugs? The sad thing about this whole situation is the level of mistrust that people now have for our institutions. Everything is so bottom line oriented and motivated by greed, it is astonishing and sickening what people and companies will do to make money.
All of these themes are at work in Bastards Of the Party. What makes it such a great film is that Cle Shaheed Sloane isn't some educated guy filling the screen with facts and figures and calling for a takedown of the man. He is an intelligent person who simply can't believe what's happened to his country and his people. He doesn't completely cite the establishment as the problem and he seems to be appealing to the better side of human nature with this film. Bastards Of the Party is a highly engaging documentary that shows how the American dream has tragically been co-opted and destroyed for too many Americans.
Bastards Of the Party is currently airing on HBO.