Does Sons of Anarchy Romanticize Motorcycle Gangs?

by on September 11, 2012

in Entertainment

Sons of Anarchy review - the reaper logo

As regular readers of this site may know, I’ve been loading up on the first few seasons of FX‘s Sons of Anarchy, and I’m really enjoying the series. It’s another dark road or anti-hero series where we follow a motorcycle gang club, from the fictional town of Charming, CA, which is located fictionally in Central CA.. The series is from exec producer Kurt Sutter (The Shield) and stars Charlie Hunnam, Katey Sagal, Ron Perlman, Mark Boone Junior, Kim Coates, Tommy Flanagan, Maggie Siff, William Lucking and more.

It’s a fascinating series because despite the obvious nature of the characters, it’s about the family of the club and what goes on with that family in as they have to deal with fallout from their lifestyle. It’s odd in that you root for the “bad guys” who run guns and porn shops while you get seriously ticked off at the feds who pulls tricks on the MC, SAMCRO (Sons of Anarchy Motorcycle Club, Redwood Original) to trip them up and try and arrest them.

Ron Perlman as Clay in Sons of Anarchy

The first season was acceptable but the writing got its feet under it and it got pretty good. In fact, as they get moving on the second season, the writing is so good that they actually come out of left field and hit you with some pretty emotional moments between family and club and what not. They all stand up for one another and it’s pretty awesome to see. They also show us that there is honor amongst thieves as they stick to an unspoken code between themselves and other clubs. And then there’s what I called the idiosyncrasies of their tough bikers. They have normal lives outside the club and have jobs like Elvis impersonators, or can cook up a mean loaf of bread. Or one of my favorites, the toughest of them, is afraid of dolls. I can’t stop laughing about that one.

But there’s an appealing aspect about the series that makes you want to charge out, buy a “RIDE” and go join a MC. They have this great camaraderie, they have a tough and tumble mode that gets me laughing and reminds me of my earlier days and some guys I used to hang with. But one aspect I’ve noticed is this sense of freedom portrayed in Sons of Anarchy that comes from living outside the law!

But could you become an MC member? Can you handle it? Let’s take a look at the most infamous bike club there is, Hells Angels, and see what they say.

Hells Angels logo

Well, first off, I’m loving the ‘tude already…

“How do I join the Hells Angels?” A: “As the saying goes, If you have to ask the question, you probably won’t understand the answer.”

Classic. But in all seriousness, it is a motorcycle club and the regs say that

“They’re looking for true motorcycle enthusiasts where their motorcycle is their primary mode of transportation. On average a club member rides 20,000 miles a year on their bike.”

That’s the generic answer, but they do indicate that

  • Each Charter varies in their requirement, and you should talk to a member in your region.
  • If you have to ask where the nearest Charter is to you….you aren’t ready to join a Motorcycle Club.

I love their pragmatic approach to some questions.

First, to make it clear, I’m not missing the apostrophe, that’s how they spell Hells Angels. It’s intentional because they’re perspective is that there is probably more than one hell. If you’ve heard them mention their club as ’81’, that’s where in the alphabet the letters H and A occur.

No, Hells Angels did not originate in Oakland.

The first Hells Angels Motorcycle Club was founded in the Fontana/San Bernardino area on March 17th, 1948. The founding members later moved out of “Berdoo” and landed in Oakland, CA. The club went international in 1961.

It’s interesting to look over the website, that’s for sure. I’d love to spend a day or two hanging out to see what a day in the life of a Hells Angel might be like, but I’ve also already seen some of their work… During the San Francisco marathon they volunteer for traffic control and other duties that are pretty helpful to the event. But if you look them up in Google news, you might also get the idea that you do need to be some form of badass to be a member.

There, you guys did right, and I did remember!

That’s my two cents on the issue. If anything, Sons of Anarchy sparked my curiosity enough about the issue of motorcycle clubs and to look into the basic info on an organization like the Hells Angels. There are other clubs out there, but this one was the first that comes to mind when I ponder clubs.

Cool stuff… now I have to go buy a bike.



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