Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Kathleen Hanna on Totally Biased discusses riot grrrl, racism and media misrepresentation

Kathleen Hanna has been on a bit of a promotional tour for the release of The Punk Singer documentary that Sini Anderson directed.  She's been on Buzzfeed, Pitchfork, the Huffington Post  and various other major websites (conspicuously missing from the "feminist" pop culture site Jezebel).  I did an interview with Sini a couple of years ago when they were still in the filming phase, which you can read here.

After a few screenings and making the film festival run, The Punk Singer won a couple of awards, snagged a distribution deal and is set to open in 36 theaters in the US starting this Friday.  So this your chance to see an inside look at the life and work of a very influential artist, singer and feminist.  Even if those subjects don't interest you, it's just a well-made and entertaining film.

One of her promotional stops was on the now-canceled Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell on Fox.  They discuss the film, her illness, riot grrrl and her husband Adrock from the Beastie Boys.  Kamau asks Kathleen about the lack of racial diversity that is associated with riot grrrl, which provokes a brief, but insightful conversation about what was happening during the inception of the movement.

On the other hand, she explains that there were women of color involved in shaping riot grrrl, and she doesn't want their contributions to be erased.  Emily's Sassy Lime was an asian riot grrrl group who were on the same label as Bikini Kill in the 90s.  I loved them and consider them an influence and wish they were acknowledged and referenced more often when people talk about riot grrrl and racial diversity.  For anyone who's interested, I also came across this  Fuck Yeah Riot Grrrls of Color tumblr page.

On to the video:

Now check out the trailer for The Punk Singer ---->

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Country Singer Chely Wright Chronicals Her Coming Out in the Documentary, Wish Me Away

Having grown up in the punk world, I know very little about country music, despite the fact that I grew up in the south.  The Thunder Rolls, the Dixie Chicks and This Bike is a Pipe Bomb are the basics of my knowledge.  However, upon searching for a lesbian-themed documentary for my Queer Film and Video class, I came across Wish Me Away, a very moving film about the journey of a closeted country singer who grew up in a religious home being taught that homosexuality was a sin that would send her to hell.

The documentary was filmed over a three year period and chronicles Chely's relationship with her religious family, her rise to success and her eventual televised coming out on the Today Show.  It includes the subsequent backlash from the country music world, which means no longer being invited to the Country Music Awards.  I don't know if this is a result of her being openly gay or if it's because she's no longer a chart topper.  Either way, she SHOULD be invited to these kinds of events simply due to the fact that country music needs a prominent gay presence. Plus, what she did was very brave, considering the extremely conservative state of the country music world.  Although she is exponentially happier and coming out put her in the spotlight again, she still has to deal with the fall-out of being openly gay in this community, which includes receiving hate mail and other vitriol like "shut up and sing".

Even if you are not into country music, and you don't give a damn about gay rights, this film is worth watching, because ultimately it's a human story.  It has a universal theme of self-acceptance, and letting go of fear and sharing who you truly are with your friends, family and the world.   I'm not big on doing film reviews, so just watch the trailer and then go watch the film on Netflix Instant.

(There is also a petition started by her fans to reinstate her to the Grand Ole Opry.  She hasn't performed there since she came out in 2010.)

Here is the trailer:

Friday, March 8, 2013

Dirty Girls in the schoolyard, 8th grade riot grrrls from 1996

Please watch this amazing time capsule of a film from 1996 by Michael Lucid.  It's about a group of 8th grade riot grrrls who were ostracized at their school.  He says "everyone in the schoolyard held strong opinions about these so-called "dirty girls."  Also, it has Liz Phair as the soundtrack.  That's reason enough to watch.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Pepper Davis, baseball legend and inspiration for the lead character in "A League of Their Own" has passed away

I fell in love with Geena Davis and A League of Their Own when it came out in the 90s.  I was very young, but the sisterhood, the stories, the characters, the games -- it all inspired me.  Geena Davis played the lead character, who was based off of Lavonne "Pepper" Paire-Davis, a baseball legend who played during the 1940's All American Girls Professional Baseball League.  

Unfortunately, Pepper Davis (4th in the front row) passed away on Sunday, according to her son,
"Paire-Davis died of natural causes in the Van Nuys section of Los Angeles on Saturday...She was 88. Paire-Davis was a model for the character played by Geena Davis in the 1992 hit "A League of Their Own," which also starred Rosie O'Donnell, Madonna and Tom Hanks as the crusty manager who shouted the famous line, 'there's no crying in baseball!'"
According to the article, Pepper played for 10 seasons as a catcher and shortstop and won five championships with her teams. She also wrote a book about her experiences in the league in a book called "Dirt in the Skirt." 

For those of you unfamiliar with the history of women in baseball, the "girls league" was created by Phillip K. Wrigley when World War II took so many men off to war and there was a concern that the baseball industry would be impacted. 

According to The Huffington Post,
The players wore skirts and the teams often had cutesy names, but the players maintained a genuine big league lifestyle, playing 120 games over four months. "We played every night of the week," Paire-Davis said, "doubleheaders on Sundays and holidays." 
Paire-Davis said, looking back from 1995, that she couldn't "honestly tell you I knew the history we were making back then." But, she said, "I can tell you we knew we were doing something special."
If you've never seen A League of Their Own, directed by Penny Marshall, watch this scene and then go order it on Netflix.  It's a classic. 

There are more quotes from Pepper at the original article: Source 1 and Source 2.

Monday, January 14, 2013

The only part of the Golden Globes that matter: Tina and Amy

If you wanna get your giggles on, then sit back and let the ladies make you laugh.  Flavorwire has very thoughtfully cut out the whole giving-awards-out thing, and focused on the part of the Golden Globes that we were most interested in -- Tina Fey and Amy Poehler.

Just the Amy and Tina Parts from Last Night's Golden Globes from Flavorwire on Vimeo.
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