Everything You Know About Skinheads Is Wrong
Skinheads don't exactly have a good rep. Ever since the movement bubbled forth from Britain's working-class communities in the late '60s, it's been intrinsically connected with racism, thanks to the white supremacist beliefs held by a modestly sized, disproportionately outspoken subset of punks. Nevertheless, the skinhead philosophy is actually a mindset rooted in cultural harmony, rather than separation — a post-colonial bridging of townie tradition and Jamaican art (an unavoidable consequence, given the U.K.'s sizable Jamaican population).
BBC DJ Don Letts explores this oft-overlooked caveat in The Story of Skinhead, a new documentary that aired this past weekend on BBC Four. Comprised almost entirely of footage culled from skinhead enclaves throughout the U.K., the hour-long feature details the scene's ties to reggae culture, as well as budding controversies (late-night brawls, neo-Nazi bigotry) that overshadowed its forward-thinking approach. It's also a comprehensive field guide to the rich array of skinhead sub-niches, from Trojan Records' rocksteady luminaries to the pugnacious street punk known as Oi! If you've got even the slightest interest in the scene, be sure to check out Letts' documentary — you won't be disappointed.
The Story of Skinhead With Don Letts premiered on BBC Four last week.