The Decline of Western Civilization (w TVP emitowany pt. Upadek zachodniej cywilizacji) – amerykański film dokumentalny z 1981 roku zrealizowany przez Penelope Spheeris dotyczący sceny punkrockowej w Los Angeles w latach 1979-1980. W filmie uwieczniono występy legendarnych już dziś zespołów tj: X, Black Flag, Fear, The Germs, Circle Jerks, Alice Bag Band, Catholic Discipline oraz wywiady z Darby Crashem, Exene Cervenką, Keithem Morrisem, Chuckiem Dukowskim i innymi.
Ścieżka dźwiękowa z filmu została wydana w 1981 roku przez firmę Slash Records na LP. Na okładce płyty znajduje się zdjęcie wokalisty The Germs Darby'ego Crash'a, który umarł krótko przed ukazaniem się filmu na rynku.
The Decline of Western Civilization is an American documentary film filmed through 1979 and 1980. The movie is about the Los Angeles punk rock scene and was directed by Penelope Spheeris. In 1981, the LAPD Chief of Police Daryl Gates wrote a letter demanding the film not be shown again in L.A. Over the years the film has gained cult status.
The film's title is possibly a reference to famous music critic Lester Bangs' 1970 two-part review of The Stooges' Fun House for Creem magazine, where Bangs quotes a friend who had said the popularity of The Stooges signaled "the decline of Western civilization". Another possibility is that the title refers to Darby Crash's reading of Oswald Spengler's Der Untergang des Abendlandes (The Decline of the West).
The film is the opening act of a trilogy by Spheeris depicting life in Los Angeles at various points. The second film The Decline of Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years covers the Los Angeles heavy metal scene of 1986-1988. The third film The Decline of Western Civilization III chronicles the gutter punk lifestyle of homeless teenagers in the late 1990s.
Featuring concert footage of legendary Los Angeles punk bands and interviews both with band members, the publishers of Slash fanzine, and with the punks who made up their audience, the film offers a look into a subculture that was largely ignored by the rock music press of the time.
The promotional poster for The Decline (and the record cover of the soundtrack album) featured a close-up frame of Germs singer Darby Crash supine on stage with his eyes closed. Crash died from a heroin-induced suicide shortly before the film was released (the poster was designed before his death).
Bands included are Black Flag, Germs, X, Alice Bag Band, Circle Jerks, Catholic Discipline, and Fear. The Germs' performance was replicated in the film What We Do Is Secret biopic, as well as a replication of the image on the soundtrack's front cover.