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Thursday, May 02, 2013

Sean Kelly

Hot Docs 2013: My Thoughts on 12 O'Clock Boys

12_OClock_Boys

In Baltimore, there is an infamous group of dirt bikers named the “12 O’Clock Boys,” who ride through the streets of the city every weekend, often in groups of over a hundred.  Their name comes from their ability to pop wheelies and drive completely straight back.  The Baltimore police consider the 12 O’Clock Boys to be a dangerous and illegal nuisance, yet find it difficult to enforce the law, since it is too dangerous to outright chase the bikers.

12 O’Clock Boys, directed by Lotfy Nathan, tells the story of a teenage boy named Pug, who dreams of joining the group.  Pug and his brothers are raised by his mother Coco, who heavily disapproves of Pug’s obsession with dirt bikes.  Coco wishes that Pug should focus more on school and his career aspirations of being a veterinarian, instead of getting himself involved with the highly illegal world of the 12 O’Clock Boys.

The film heavily mythologizes the 12 O’Clock Boys, with many slow motion shots of the bikes going down the street.  In a city where people are constantly finding the right way to do the wrong stuff, dirt bikes are considered to be one of the few seemingly positive paths to follow.  However, the 12 O’Clock boys constantly find themselves at odds with the police, especially when altercations result in the death of a biker.  The 12 O’Clock Boys thrive on videotaping themselves, beginning with early videotapes and moving on to becoming a sensation on YouTube.  One, somewhat disturbing, moment of the 12 O’Clock Boys playing up for the camera comes when they grope a woman on the street and tell, the documentary’s, cameraman to focus on certain body parts.  It’s a disgusting case of objectfying woman, which also existed on the group’s early videotapes.

While he may be just playing up to the documentary filmmakers, Pug is constantly expressing himself with a very stereotypical ghetto attitude, such as the kind used by rappers.  Pug is extremely anti-authority  and has no respect at all for the police.  His mother has an extremely low tolerance for Pug’s behaviour and is tempted to just let the police take him.  I actually found it a bit disturbing how much Pug changes over the course of the film, especially after the death of his oldest brother.  It is stated in the film that every ghetto has a kid like Pug and that he is a product of the negative environment.  You definitely get a sense by the end of the film, that Pug is more likely to enter a life of crime, than do anything meaningful with his life.

Overall, I thought that 12 O’Clock Boys was an interesting look at this inner-city subculture in Baltimore.  While it is definitely sad to think that Pug considers dirt biking to be more important than having a proper education, the film does provide an unbiased look into this world, which is considered by many to be many to be nothing but a bunch of hoodlums endangering the streets of Baltimore.

8 | LIKED IT

Sean Kelly

About Sean Kelly -

Sean Patrick Kelly is a self-described ├╝ber-geek, who has been an avid film lover for all his life. He graduated from York University in 2010 with an honours B.A. in Cinema and Media Studies and he likes to believe he knows what he’s talking about when he writes about film (despite occasionally going on pointless rants).