"This thoughtful, troubling film from Don Letts shows how a joyful movement became hijacked by thugs and bigots. To the point where even the title of this programme will be off-putting to some. But the precursor to all the hooliganism was a teen obsession with Jamaican ska. Kevin Rowland recalls, 'We saw the Pioneers, we saw Desmond Dekker and we loved them. It was completely multiracial.' And Letts is at pains to celebrate both the fashion before the fascism – reflected in increasingly ugly 70s archive – and the style revival."
"Our collective sympathy for the victims is obviously a given. And yet the quest to unearth celebrity sex offenders has become a form of crude cultural entertainment–but it is less witch–hunt, more carnival, in the sense proposed by critic Mikhail Bakhtin. Here social hierarchies are profaned and subverted by normally suppressed voices. Thus, the marginalised become the focus, princes become paupers, and opposites combine (high and low, fact and fantasy, heaven and hell).
This circus is conducted with a grotesque, 'world–upside–down' energy and black humour, in which charivari–ritual chastising and humiliation, not least of sexual transgressions–is accompanied by raucous collective mirth. Ultimately, order is restored, but not before authority figures have taken a beating.
And so we witness the toppling of the powerful by a righteous mob, as men of a certain age and cultural authority–backed by a degree of establishment collusion–are brought low with a barely contained collective thrill. Sometimes it feels as if all the icons of our childhood have been outed as sexual deviants–revenge for every night of bad television endured during the 1970s."
(Hannah Betts, 7 December 2012, The Guardian)