The Punk Singer
documents Kathleen Hanna, the front-singer
of the Seattle-based punk-bands Bikini Kill and Le Tigre, who achieved
international stardom. She was
central to the Riot Grrrl movement and remains an inspiration to women who wish
to break out of male-imposed and female-accepted stereotypes of gender.
The film touches on her earliest artistic efforts at spoken word, her
breaking into rock and roll and features testimonials from women who support the
movement. She features artists and
musicians on her blog http://www.kathleenhanna.com/category/blog/.
Persepolis is an autobiographical animation that traces
Marjane Satrapiís experiences encountering cultural boundaries growing up in
Iran, studying in Europe and navigating the constraints of the Iranian
revolution. As a child she first
encountered the gender barriers and was encouraged to deal with them in
different ways by her family. Her
grandmother was a particularly strong mentor in her defiance to male impositions
on their behavior. The film traces
her trajectory through the Iranian revolution against the Shah, the domination
of Iranians by the triumphant revolutionaries, the personal relationships that
developed while studying in France and the destructive Iran-Iraq war that
destroyed much of Tehran, her home city.
Paris Is Burning is a documentary set in New York City that
traces the 1980ís phenomenon of gay balls, runway competitions with fans and
awards. Denied access to mainstream
institutions, a gay subculture spontaneously arose, originally as fashion-shows
but expanding into innovative dancing and other performance arts.
Families were re-invented as some assumed the role of mothers, protecting and
children in their artistic and political progress.
They're work frankly illustrates the incredible adaptability and creativity
of the human being.
Despite my claim to a fundamental liberality, I held back
watching these 3 films, thinking that I already knew all I needed to know.
But enabled me to break out of my hardened relationship to ideas of gender and to
see a new world. Check it out, guys.
You have nothing to fear.
By the way, Examiner is ending its program of providing an
online venue for reviewers. After 7
years, I am signing off. Iím
looking for other opportunities to bring you the latest news from the cultural
frontier. You havenít heard the
last from me.