National Geographic’s American Skinheads documentary follows racist skinheads

Tonight, the National Geographic channel debuts American Skinheads, a documentary that follows the “burgeoning white power movement,” which “is finding new ways to spread its message,” according to the network. It airs at 9 p.m. ET, and repeats tonight at midnight and Saturday at 6 p.m.

Executive producer Mike Sinclair writes that when they began work on the documentary, “the only impressions we could recall of skinheads on television were of angry kids with shaved heads on talk shows spewing outrageous threats and throwing chairs. … We wanted our program to get beyond that and take a hard look at skinhead culture from the inside. To do that we wanted to let the skins themselves explain it to us.”

He notes that while there are many subcultures, such as “traditional skins, anarchist skins, racist skins, anti-racist skins and host of other categories … We narrowed the focus of the show to what academics call racist skinheads. These are the American skinheads who adopted the racist ideology of the skinhead movement in Britain in the 1980s. Many racist skinheads share the Nazi ideas that whites are a genetically superior race and in danger of becoming extinct at the hands of a rising tide of color.”

Sinclair writes that “fear of extinction is real among the culture and carries with it an inherent call to action. … In Orange County, California, skinhead musician Martin Cox defends the use of violence to further the skinhead’s racist cause. Cox told us that, ‘The time for talking in this country is over. Rallies, marches…those are old school. It’s time to start killing.'”

But he says the documentary also follows others who “are calling for a fundamental shift in tactics. Tom Metzger is credited by some as the grandfather of the American skinhead movement. Today he is calling for skinheads to throw off the traditional symbols of the culture, grow their hair out, cover up their tattoos and assimilate into mainstream society… and wait for the right time to strike.”

American Skinheads [National Geographic Channel]
Profile of the New American Skinheads [NGC Blog]

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about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.