White Riot, 2019 [Review] – Rubika Shah
A contemporary reflection on a cultural movement, Rock Against Racism. Resurfacing this topic empties Britain’s racist closet, along with its problematic skeletons; Eric Clapton; Rod Stewart and David Bowie. Co-founder Red Saunders details how the comments made by these musical heroes spurred on action to fight against the increasing grip the National Front held over the nation as well as the uncomfortable influence it was beginning to have over music subcultures.
White Riot chronicles the grassroots efforts by RAR who organised the 1978 Carnival against Nazi’s, which saw thousands march from Trafalgar Square to Victoria Park to see performances by Tom Robinson, Steel Pulse, X-Ray Spex and The Clash, who performed the films titular song with Jimmy Pursey, an important stance for the Sham 69 singer, who was gaining a racist following.
Rubikah Shah presents a lesson in music history as well as pre-digital activism, featuring interviews that guide the viewer through a six year journey in only eighty minutes. Shah’s obsession with archive is evident through frenetic graphic animations layered on top of stills. Although the effect could be dizzying at times, it succeeds in painting a heart-breaking picture of a 1970s Britain, operating overwhelmingly on fear and hatred.
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