Debate: "Inside, Out" Fact or Fiction?

It’s the cult classic movie filmed in the mid-eighties that has led tons of people to Athens in pursuit of music, fame, and the right to drink beer and create stickpiles while in their pajamas. Athens, Ga.: Inside/Out caused quite a stir when being filmed and after it was released. Some hailed it as the best introduction to the town’s college music scene. Others called it nothing more than a sham that had nothing to do with the town’s music at all. So is the movie more fact? or fiction?

FACT: You won’t get a better idea of how the music scene in Athens was than this movie. You can read all the books you want but until you visually see how the town was, how the venues were, you’ll have no idea. It offers you a glimpse into the young mindsets of these bands at a critical time in the scene. Where else do you get to go into Buck’s house? Or see the other factors around town like the resturants and out of the way places that helped spawn such a creative force? Plus you get incredible performance footage of bands that aren’t around any longer. This may not be all of Athens but it’s real.

FICTION: There’s a reason why so many bands hated this flick. Take a look at some of the people featured. A lot of them weren’t even from Athens at that point, they had just arrived and happened to show up when the cameras were around. It makes everything look all shiny and happy sure but I’d argue that 86-92 was when the commercial side of Athens appeared with everyone wanting to cling to the Athens brand name. There’s people in the movie that have nothing to do with the music at all! They’re just there for entertainment’s sake. This is not the real Athens at all.

What’s your take?


  1. There's people in the movie that have nothing to do with the music at all! They're just there for entertainment's sake. This is not the real Athens at all.

    Back this up with examples.

  2. If I have to put it in one category of either mess or or class, I choose mess.

    Years ago, a fellow REM fan burned me a copy of this and I watched it a few times. I watched it tonight again to refresh my memory to help gather my thoughts.

    Essentially, I get the impression that the film was made with the intent that the audience would be current and former Athenians. To me it didn't clearly outline the evolution of the music scene. It seems like a set of random interviews and clips of shows put together in no particular order. And while the film did in some way show the evolution of the music scene it was brief and sort of vague.

    I'm not from Athens or Georgia for that matter and to many people in the U.S., the B-52s and/or REM put Athens on the map. So there was much curiosity about the town itself and what in particular (if anything) led to the music scene as we think of it. In my opinion, this documentary gave insufficient info on Athens and UGA, which I think is necessary to define/provide a setting to the viewer.

    If I were producing the film, the opening scene would have included a song from the B52s and would have shown downtown Athens, a club such as the 40 Watt or even part of UGA's campus. Instead we see a tractor on a farm with an instrumental piece that most people outside of Athens are unfamiliar with.

    At the time this was made, there was roughly a decade where Athens went from having no significant music scene to a major music scene which included bands successful on the national level.

    To best tell the story of the Athens music scene, particularly a more detailed evolution of it, a panel of narrators would be necessary. In my opinion, a member from the three most prominent Athens bands (REM, Pylon, B52s) should be included.

    Also in the panel, I'd include a former UGA student who was part of the scene but strictly as a fan. I think many people would like to hear the point of view of a student who saw the formation of the B52s, Pylon, and REM at the local clubs then went on to see the formation of many other bands.

    Regarding the existing film, I thought there was excessive footage of Howard Finster, Rev. John D. Ruth. I think they deserved some mention but it wasnt' clear how they were relevent to the Athens scene.

    Also, I would have liked to heard more from/about Ort was and why he was interviewed for the film. One can glean that he was a prominent citizen in the town and I would have liked to have heard more commentary from him on the culture of Athens.

    Also, I don't think the Flat Duo Jets deserved as much footage as they got. Technically they were part of the Athens scene but (correct me if I'm wrong) this duo wasn't formed in Athens. All in all, if they were to be in the film, it should be noted they werent' UGA students who formed a band, they were a duo living in another state and moved to Athens in hopes that it would be better for their career.

    All in all, this film does not let the viewer experience the city of Athens “Inside Out” as the title suggests. However it could have provided that experience, I think, had it been produced in a different fashion, describing the birth of the music scene, providing more of a chronology of events, and ultimately painting a portrait of how it grew (from the musicians' point of view and from fans).

    That's just my opinion though.

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