“Everyone growing up knows that jocks rule the school … the nerds, the throwaways, the thinkers, the daydreamers, these are the beaten. These are the kids who can’t drink out of the water fountain today. I don’t see anyone standing up for their civil rights.”
These are the words spoken by Marilyn Manson at a conference touching on the Columbine shootings in 2000. His thought-provoking speech is used to conclude the true crime film Bomb City, about the killing of a 19-year-old punk rocker in a small Texan town in 1997.
The filmmakers Jameson Brooks (director) and Sheldon Chick (producer) felt that Manson’s speech related to the film’s message about intolerance. Manson actually referenced Brian Deneke’s death and how his appearance was the justification given for his death in his speech.
“This boy died because he looked different and was run down by a drunk piece of **** who hated him and always picked on him. This guy kills this kid and guess where this all-America athlete is? He’s in college. The jury felt the punk rocker deserved to die because he looked the way he did.”
But Manson wasn’t the only musician touched by Deneke’s death. His story inspired a number of songs by punk bands including the Dropkick Murphy’s, The Undead and Total Chaos.
Stranger than fiction
Bomb City dramatises the story that divided American communities. It documents the real-life tension that existed between youngsters living in Amarillo, Texas, 20 years ago. On the one side there were the rebellious punk rockers and on the other, the preppy jocks. The two groups often clashed, and one night in 1997, things went too far when footballer Cody Cates (the fictional name given to the character depicting Dustin Camp) mowed down musician, poet and artist Brian Deneke in a parking lot.
But the drama goes beyond the tragic incident to the shocking outcome of the court case against Cates. Charged with first-degree murder, he was found guilty of voluntary vehicular manslaughter and walked out of the courtroom with 10 years’ probation and a fine that was never paid.
Brooks and Chick both grew up in Amarillo and were teenagers when it all happened. “The story of what happened to Brian Deneke was a part of our youth, and so when we felt we were ready to make a feature, that kind of crept into our minds again. There’s a real lesson of tolerance built into that story,” Chick told The Austin Chronicle.
Brooks and Chick’s debut film has received much praise from critics. The Hollywood Reporter called it “assured and effective” while Variety said: “Bomb City will keep you in its grasp during every moment leading to its climactic violence. And it won’t let go until the closing credits roll.”
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