The Punk Singer is a walk down 90s grunge memory lane, with old home videos, images of fanzines handmade by clippings from magazines, interviews and recordings of live shows, all telling the story of Kathleen Hanna: the fiery, black-haired frontwoman of Olympia-based band Bikini Kill. Filmmaker Sini Anderson alternates between Kathleen Hanna’s high pitched wailing voice in recordings of old Bikini Kill songs and her Valley-girl speaking voice in various interviews with the singer herself. Kathleen Hanna started as a writer, claiming that she wanted to be heard, but then moved into the music scene because she believed it would help her deliver her message to more people. The lyrics of Bikini Kill songs, combined with Kathleen Hanna’s stage presence, were enough to start a revolution. Yet she helped spur it along by asking all of the men to move to the back of the venue during her shows. Kathleen is credited with inspiring the underground, hardcore, punk feminist movement Riot Grrrl, which is thought by some to be the kickoff of third wave feminism.
This documentary features interviews with Joan Jett, Carrie Brownstein, Ann Powers, Kim Gordon and Kathleen Hanna’s husband Adam Horovitz of The Beastie Boys, providing a range of testimonies to Kathleen Hanna’s outstanding personality, history and contribution to music and feminism. The documentary features music from all of her projects: Bikini Kill, Julie Ruins and Le Tigre. If you are a fan of any of the groups she was in or rock music in general, you are bound to love this insider look at the Pacific Coast grunge scene of the 90 — to the political lyrics behind the electroclash sound of Le Tigre to Kathleen Hanna revealing the reason she stopped making music. For any person interested in feminism and feminist history, this movie is a must-see to capture how Kathleen Hanna’s lifestyle changed the views and opinions of what a feminist can and cannot be, look like or act.
Miss Representation is produced and directed by an extensive team of women, with Jennifer Siebel Newsom and Regina Kullick Scully leading the team. This documentary focuses on the way that women are portrayed in mainstream media and how in turn, this affects the number of women in powerful positions. The film begins with director Jennifer Siebel Newsom’s story of discovering she was pregnant with a baby girl. She feared for her daughter’s future and her ability to be “healthy and emotionally fulfilled” in today’s society. Newsom reflects her own experience growing up and the enormous pressures she felt to do well in school, keep friendships and look a certain way. The film introduces some frightening statistics, such as: Americans spend an average of 10 hours and 45 minutes consuming media in various forms each day.The film’s best evidence for how harmful this can be to young girls is the clips from sitcoms, reality television shows, films, advertisements and news coverage. They all seem to carry the same message: that what is important about women is the way they look.
Interviews with high school students, actresses such as Rosario Dawson, Jane Fonda and Margaret Cho, directors such as Jean Kilbourne and Catherine Hardwick and newscaster Rachel Maddow, offer various points of views on the way inequality is experienced because we live in a country that just doesn’t seem to take women seriously.The film mentions how even the most powerful women — Hilary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi and Sarah Palin — are graded on how appealing they are to men, not their contributions in the political arena. This close scrutiny of a woman’s’ physical appearance and the objectification of her as a sex object leads to women to self-objectify, thus losing their confidence and political efficacy. The film calls for more women to join politics and make up for the staggering discrepancies between male and females in political offices, especially with important issues on the table such as paid maternity leave and equal wage, and it calls for an end to the subtle microaggressions that take place every time we turn on the television.
Fed Up, produced by Katie Couric and Stephanie Shoetig investigates the maddening cause of the childhood obesity epidemic that is plaguing the United States and working its way into the rest of the world one gram of sugar at a time. This documentary follows the lives of three obese children as they reveal what choices they made in the school cafeteria that day or the way their war with their own weight was making them feel depressed, tired and disconnected from their peers. Although they were all making efforts to lose weight, it was becoming exceedingly more frustrating as the more time passed without progress. The biology of a body digesting a processed food versus a non-processed food, that is presented in animated diagrams, completely disproves the myth that every calorie is created equal. The film educates on what feasible diet changes to make in order to create sustainable eating habits that can improve your and your family’s health for life.
But it holds the food industry up to a moral shame they should feel for not only serving food with little to no nutritional value and high risk for causing health problems, but for marketing it towards children. The horrifying statistics presented in this movie show that obesity and especially childhood obesity is a chronic health problem that deserves national attention immediately. But as the film reveals strategic partnerships that are formed between big food and government branches, it condemns the government’s tendency to focus on exercise rather than diet as a cure and for not taking a harsh enough stance against food industries peddling chemical-filled foods with no nutritional value. The film offers steps for the government to take against food industries that seem so basic that it is hard to believe they are not in place. It ultimately begs the viewer to ask what sort of nation we live in when profit is more important than public health.