The Liberation Army: Disco Still Sucks with this Commentary Track
Proposed as more than just a dance and lifestyle craze, but as a coming out party for minorities, Secret Disco Revolution dates disco before it was called disco, musically timelines its mutation and its death in a chronological order with some of the main players in the short lived era. Despite the fact that many of the docs’ subjects concur with the notion that there was nothing political about the music, helmer Jamie Kastner’s soft and fluffy approach and a line-up of talking heads without much insight does a disservice to what is a fairly bold thesis statement.
Shaped with an academia approach and a laughable, oddly confectioned cartoony manifesto, it’s via an assortment of dull talking heads, stock footage, and concert/video assemblage we come to learn that African Americans, women and gay men were at the forefront of what was at first an underground, inner city movement. The cool kids that made the Studio 54 glitter ball era what it was were at once camouflaged, then protected by the massive acceptation and insertion of tracks that torpedoed their way to the top of the charts; the heavily rotted tracks such as the Macho Mans and the Love to Love You Babys might have been the anthems for social change.
Problematic to the doc is that in wanting to make a more anthropological-centric commentary, Kastner highlights the era with a broader strokes – snip-it comments about cocaine use during the heyday, the mechanics of the songs (the 4×4 beat), the under-represented engineers of this music movement who were the first to modify Billboard’s control and ultimately change how the record industry perceived this influx and ultimately lined up their huge appetite for easy profits says little about the infiltration of his chosen three minorities. When the opportunity arises to challenge his key theory, Kastner demonstrates his inability to dig deeper – emblematic in how YMCA banner folks Village People contradict the producer’s intent.
While Gloria Gaynor will indeed survive, Secret Disco Revolution isn’t glossy enough or doesn’t take a firm enough stance to make us question whether this was a revolutionary act or not and nor does it become the type of music-related docu that’ll make you crave for the disco ball days.