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The Teddy Boy cinema riots


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The Blue Story film has attracted strong criticism after disorder broke out at a number of UK screenings of the movie. But cinema violence linked to gang culture is far from a new phenomenon in British towns and cities.

The Teddy Boy cinema riots


Date - 30th November 2019
By - Chloe Livadeas


Blue Story, a film about gang-war, was banned by two cinema chains after viewings of the film appear to have incited youth violence across theatres. Six teenagers were arrested and seven police officers injured in a brawl which involved up to 100 youths, some armed with machetes, at the Star City cinema complex in Birmingham last Saturday evening. The first 24 hours of the film’s release reportedly caused a spike in serious incidents across 16 separate cinemas.

Vue Cinemas and Showcase subsequently stopped all showings of the film, which follows the story of two rival gangs in South London, over fears of further violence. This move caused an outcry over censorship from voices in the film industry and the public on social media. Both chains have since reversed their decision, with Showcase recommencing viewings on Monday night and the Vue planning to reinstate the film this weekend. While both firms have done so on the condition of increased security, some have labeled the ban of the film, which has a black director and mostly black cast, as "racist".

But Blue Story is not the first film to be banned after sparking youth riots across British cinemas.

When the US movie Blackboard Jungle hit the screens in the 1950s cinema seats were slashed, fireworks set off, bottles thrown, shop windows smashed as police clashed with a teenage subculture known as the Teddy Boys.

Emerging from the gloom of the Second World War and stepping into the consumer boom of the 1950s, gangs of British working-class teenagers were all of a sudden darned in sharp suits, high waist ‘drainpipe’ trousers, Slim-jim ties, beetle crushers and sporting quiffed hair.

Inspired by the style of clothing worn by dandies in Edwardian times, the trendy teens were originally known as Cosh Boys, but coined the nickname Teds after a Daily Express headline shortened Edwardian to Teddy. The group started in London and quickly became associated with American Rock & Roll. Their break from convention has led them to be known as Britain’s first teenage subculture.

Blackboard Jungle focuses on the story of a new teacher at an interracial inner-city school and rebellious students but is unlikely to have contained the same levels of drugs and graphic violence as Blue Story. Nevertheless, something in its innovative Rock N Roll soundtrack - which opens with Bill Haley’s Rock Around the Clock - triggered a violent streak in Teddy Boy gang culture. At the first viewing in Elephant and Castle in 1956 the smartly-dressed teenage boys began to riot, destroying cinema seats and singing and dancing up and down the aisles.

Armed with hair combs instead of machetes, the Teddy Boys continued to riot across the country where that the film was shown until it was pulled.

This unprecedented unrest caused a moral panic that spread through the public and the media and sparked an awareness of the existence of the teenage rebel. The film was banned from cinemas across the country in an effort to quash the unrest.

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I do not think that the "Teddy Boys" ever raided Cinema's armed with Machete's. The Teddat Bots were a culture of smart dressing and music, at tat era Rock and Roll.You also have the "Mods and Rockers" I have never heard any suggestion that they were armed with Machete's.

Blackboard Jungle did not have youths armed with Machete's and the story revolved around a Black Teacher in a predominately White school with a cast of Black and White actors.

Correct me if I am wrong but I understand that "Blue Story" is an exclusive Black cast revolving around, allegedly, Love and Violence, But, why would anyone want to take a Machete to a Cinema.

There have been many films involving violence but none, that I know of, have attracted such violence.

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