12 O’Clock Boys. If you watch the news regularly or at least are active on social media, then it is almost impossible that you have missed the 12 O’Clock Boys. They are pretty much all over the place. And literally too, if you are living in Baltimore. This city, which has been through so much of violence, which continues to be a seat of acute distrust between the authorities and the general public, is popular for a new reason, albeit slightly related, the 12 O’Clock Boys. The 12 O’Clock Boys is the name of a group of dirt bike riders, who are infamous in Baltimore for their antics. What have they done? Well, they ride their two wheelers on one wheel, and their four wheelers on two wheels. They pop some really sick wheelies and hold their vehicles vertically, which resemble the clock at noon or midnight. Hence the name.
The 12 O’Clock Boys shot to fame with several YouTube videos that chronicled their superhuman feats. About 100 of such riders hawk to the roads and showcase their talents with reckless abandon, putting the lives of pedestrians and passengers in other vehicles at risk. There is literally no one to stop them. The police have been given strict instructions to not chase them, as the high speed chases can put the lives of the common citizens at risk. Instead, they keep an eye on the bikers from helicopters, which the bikers call as “birds”. This is the story of Baltimore and its 12 O’Clock Boys.
If you are thinking that the police inaction is a bit too much, then, hear this. There was an accident that took place some time ago, when a police officer was chasing one of the dirt bike riders. The chase ended in an accident that left the biker dead. The tension in the Baltimore got worse, if that is even possible. But, there is more to this gang than simply the police’s unwillingness to apprehend them. The kids, the teenagers, and even some of the adults love them and admire them. In the eyes of the police, and many civilians, this is a great thing. The very people who used to get attracted to drugs and violence have something else they can admire and follow. This is surely a much safer option for the Baltimoreans, who want their children to not enter the world of gang violence. Whatever the motivations for the leniency that the 12 O’Clock Boys are enjoying, they sure are capturing some admiration and attention.
In 2013, a documentary video on the 12 O’Clock Boys was released, albeit from the eyes of a young kid, Pug. The movie follows Pug over the course of 3 years through his adolescence. Pug is in absolute love with the biker gang, and admires them. He dreams of being a part of the mischievous gang. But, the whole idea is not something that sits well with his mother, Coco. She says that Pug is quite mischievous without a bike, and she clearly does not want to add fuel to the fire. Pug owns a miniature four wheeler in the beginning, and later comes to win a bike of his own. He practices stunts on his bike in the hope of qualifying to join the boys.
Lotfy Nathan, director of the documentary withholds any judgement and personal opinion on the bikers and Pug. In fact, he simply tries to show the bikers as seen from the eyes of the young kid. The 12 O’Clock Boys are sure the center of Pug’s life in the documentary. But, as far as the documentary is concerned, Pug is the central character. It seems the most important aspect of the documentary is to understand how the biker gang has been instrumental in capturing the imagination of the youth. Although the bikers have no social development agenda, they are making a difference in the lives of the Baltimoreans by attracting them towards themselves instead of a possible criminal life. For now, this is a good short term solution for an old problem of Baltimore.
Although director Nathan spends a lot of time portraying the world from the eyes of Pug, there are many hair-raising moments throughout the documentary. The performances of the 12 O’Clock Boys, which do not have any retakes or are produced using advanced computer graphics, are hard to believe, but 100% real. They do stay vertical on the roads, just as their title claims. Whether you like them or not, you simply cannot ignore their talent. Perhaps, they know that too.
While the biker gang has been on the road and in the news for some years now, it was only natural that Hollywood took a shine upon them. This led them to a chance to showcase their skills in one of the most successful movies of the year 2015, Creed. Yes, the seventh instalment in the Rocky series does show them. If you have watched the movie and are wondering what we are talking about, then don’t worry. We will remind you where you saw them. Remember how Adonis ends up in Philadelphia to get trained by Rocky? Well then, you must recall that Rocky does end up training him. Adonis’s training is covered in a series of montages, which showcase him training in various locations. In one of those scenes, Adonis is running through the streets of Philly, which catches the attention of the 12 O’Clock Boys. They speed past by Adonis in their signature wheelies as the music swells.
This inclusion of 12 O’Clock Boys by Ryan Coogler into the movie has been praised by many as one of the best contemporary touches in the movie. It showcases the rising of a young generation that is determined to create its own identity and make its mark felt, just like Adonis. The 12 O’Clock Boys is no more just a neighborhood gang. They have made sure that they are known and recognized across the world.