Rock: It's Your Decision
"You wanna say music is evil, fine, that's your right, but you at least have to back it up. This is a really, really depressing movie. I'm not kidding, this is actually one of the more depressing things I've sat through, and I watched Salò and A Serbian Film! (...) You can make your point without writing off an entire genre of music as a tool of devil-worshipping, drug-abusing homosexuals. That makes you sound fucking crazy, especially when your examples are debunked!"— Brad Jones (DVD-R Hell)
Rock: It's Your Decision is an obscure 1982 American anti-rock Christian propaganda film intended to teach children about the evils of rock and roll. It was released on home video VHS by Mark IV Pictures Video at the height of the Moral Majority's influence on politics and popular culture (though, it's unknown if the film was actually taken seriously at its time).
The film would have fallen into obscurity had Brad Jones (best known for The Cinema Snob) not reviewed the film for his DVD-R-Hell show on June 6th, 2011.
The film concerns around Jeff, a typical Christian teenage boy who has a love for rock music, is allegedly causing problems for his mother. In particular, she believes that rock music is causing her son to act rebellious and somehow "corrupting" him. Jeff soon delivers an unforced apology for his mother as they attend church.
Jeff also has friends, namely his best friend Marty and his girlfriend Melissa, the latter of whom wants to go to a rock concert for her birthday and has tickets to. His mother still believes that rock music is causing her son problems, so she decides to go meet the church's pastor Owen to discuss Jeff. Owen then decides to go meet Jeff in person and proposes a dare that he gives up rock music for two weeks, and research why rock music is good or bad for him as a Christian.
The next day, Jeff's girlfriend Melissa comes over to his house hoping to go to the concert with him. However, she is upset with Jeff when he suddenly starts ranting about why rock music is bad by forcing her to read a book which Jeff believes is a good source for why rock music is evil. Angered by Jeff's new behavior, she storms off out of his house saying she will go off to the concert on her own and maybe bring someone else other than him. Jeff then decides to go talk with his best friend Marty. Like Jeff did with Melissa earlier, he tries to preach the so-called evils of rock and roll which annoys him to no end because he doesn't like being preached to.
Aside from being an average Christian teenage boy, Jeff also apparently works for a roadside cafe as a fry cook. Melissa shows up to apologize to Jeff, saying that they can go out to eat dinner for her birthday instead. While they drive to dinner in Jeff's car, Melissa refuses to drop the topic of the concert by adding how much his best friend Marty is holding tickets for the concert and believes that Jeff should explain to Owen about the situation. Jeff, however, is not happy with Melissa for not stopping to bring up the topic of the rock concert and even stops her from changing the radio station from a light jazz station to a rock and roll station. It has been 6 days since the dare, and Jeff only has 8 more days until the dare is up.
The next day, Jeff is at a record store passing a referendum to teenagers in the store about why they like rock music the most for. Jeff and pastor Owen meet again and we learn that Jeff has 5 more days. Owen tells Jeff about his time as a teenager and how he had to get rid of a lot of "sinful" things like being the drummer of a high school band and says even though he lost his friends in the process, he says it was worth it. Later that night on his last 2 days, Jeff gets a call to go to Marty's party, and he accepts. However, when Marty plays instrumental rock music at his party, Jeff gets angry and Melissa tells him to go back to his house when she fears that Jeff is becoming a fanatic. Jeff agrees and goes back to his home.
When Jeff arrives back home, he goes back to his room to listen to rock music. His mom then barges into the room and turns it off. Jeff then snaps at his mother by calling the soap operas his mother watches "sex with the commercials". Irritated, Jeff goes back to Melissa and Marty and decides since they don't like his views on rock music, he will abandon rock music forever and become a devout Christian.
The film then ends with Jeff making a speech at his church with all the evidence he found during the two weeks that all rock music is bad for Christians.
Why It Sucks
- Horrible soundtrack.
- The film's topic of the so-called "evils" of rock and roll that was popular in the 1950s was dated even at the time the film was made.
- Poor video quality as it looks like it's made about one or two decades earlier.
- Awful acting.
- Most of the characters, with the exception of Melissa and Marty, are unlikable and hypocritical. Jeff, in particular, goes from a normal if somewhat bratty kid into a closed-minded, overzealous bigot as the film goes on. And yet the film genuinely expects the viewer to root for him.
- The film's Christian propaganda message is so poorly delivered that the film's plot comes off as an unintentional warning about the dangers of religious/Christian fundamentalism than about rock and roll.
- The film is entirely one-sided on Jeff's views and the film presents them as serious claims, while Melissa and Marty are treated like villains instead of being concerned about their friend's new behavior.
- It never once references Christian rock music.
- For some weird reason, Jeff in the party scene gets angry at Marty and Melissa for playing rock music, however, in the very next scene, he listens to rock music, which is incredibly hypocritical considering Jeff listens to something he disliked moments before.
- Jeff's speech at the end is so poorly researched as he only cites popular rock music from the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s and has several misconceptions about particular songs. To name them all:
- He cites Willie Bobo's song "Evil Ways" (later made famous by Santana) as a satanic song, even though the song begins with "You've gotta change your evil ways".
- He misses the purpose of the Rolling Stones song "Sympathy for the Devil", which, contrary to popular belief, is written from Satan's perspective as he describes witnessing multiple atrocities committed by mankind throughout history. He also misses the point of "Dancing with Mr. D" by the same band, which is actually about death, not Satan.
- He fails to realize that Jefferson Starship's song "Dance with the Dragon" isn't about Satan as a metaphorical dragon, but instead about the Year of the Dragon from the Chinese zodiac.
- He attacks the AC/DC song "Hell Ain't a Bad Place to Be" purely because "hell" is in the title, failing to realize it's a metaphor about a self-absorbed man being tormented by the woman he hooks up with.
- He claims that Captain and Tennille of all people have a large number of mentions of sex in their songs, even though they are mostly non-explicit.
- He even lists "Soul Sacrifice" by Santana, which is an instrumental.
- He also bashes lighter artists like Barry Manilow, Rod Stewart, and Billy Joel just for no other reason than to advance the intended moral, "All rock music is bad!".
- Hints of homophobia near the end, which isn't surprising considering that this movie is made by fundamentalist moral guardians. Jeff cites rock musicians known to be gay as a reason why rock is evil. Seriously?
The Only Redeeming Quality
- Melissa and Marty are probably the only likable characters in the film.