My views on feminism are well documented. I think the battle is won and fairplay to all the women in history, alive or dead, who have taken womankind to the point where they can do anything they want with no oppression. But I don’t want women to be blamed by feminist for not wanting to achieve those things. Women should be allowed to be women and the feminist should back off sometimes. They can make big money as Page Three girls and also protest against them. That’s a good equilibrium to enjoy. Kathleen Hanna, punk Goddess of the 1990s, the subject of this enjoyable documentary, would very much approve of that status quo.
Hanna was also a prominent American feminist poet, writer and activist, who I knew little about before seeing this film, Hanna very much a case in point were feminism becomes an ‘in your face’ attitude thing rather than being something totally constructive. She is best known for creating the punk band Bikini Kill and less known for the Electronica outfit Le Tigre and pioneered the "riot grrrl" movement of the 1990s. Her stuff was notorious for its radical feminist lyrics and fiery performances. Bikini Kills music was characteristically abrasive and full on in its delivery, Hanna once punched in the face by Courtney Love no less at the Grammys.
The film is laid out as a standard biopic and builds up to the reveal on exactly why it all ended abruptly for Kathleen Hanna in 2005 when she was still doing the business. I won’t tell you why that was as it spoils the films flow somewhat and her downfall is open for interpretation, as are many aspect of her early life.
Hanna started out as a spoken word performance poet at college and big into the ‘girlzines’ movement of feminist writing for young people in the early 90s. She was that annoying Doctor Martin wearing girl-boy. Her poetry teacher told her if she really wanted to get her voice heard then music was the best way and so she eventually formed the Bikini Girls, who, like Hanna, I have also never heard of musically. They weren’t a chart band and well known for shunning major labels and the mainstream rock press. They wanted to perform to girls like them and let their voice be heard, getting all of her emotions out about the younger female struggle in her songs and sharing that experience with her audience. The sexy and charismatic Hanna would tell/shout at the guys at the gigs to get to the back so the girls could get the front area to themselves where they would hopefully be safer, normally a smelly male moshpit. This was music for girls after all.
Bikini Girls split in 1997 and Hanna moved on to her solo stuff under the name Julie Ruin, where she surprised a few men in the industry by marrying a Beastie Boy, Adam Horovitz, not exactly a band known for its feminist lyrics. In fact she had to keep the romance low key for a long time as she feared she would lose her cred for falling in love with a man.
Hanna was hanging around with the grunge kids on the West Coast at the time and credited with the phrase ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’, which she gave to her good friend Kurt Kobain. Sadly she also gave him some shotgun ammo years later. But nothing really registered about her for the mainstream music scene to care about her stuff and so it’s left to films like this to learn more. She was very much in niche music genre people sort put. But by the end of the millennium it had all peaked and by the mid naughties it was all coming to an end as she appeared to be burnt out from years of drug and alcohol abuse. The actual cause of her dramatic and worrying health loss was North Americas hidden killer.
I really enjoyed this and an interesting journey about a rock chic I knew little about. The film was paid for by the tickets of a feminist rock concert and crowd funding so director Sini Anderson could document an iconic band in the feminist movement in popular music culture the way they wanted them to be seen. It’s more polemic than documentary.
With lots of archive footage and talking heads – some famous some not – paying tribute to the power of this pocket rocket performer it makes for an engaging 80 minutes. Director Anderson is an openly gay woman from the San Francisco feminist movement and, like most men; I still find it hard to split lesbianism and distrust of men from the feminist movement. This documentary is certainly not interested in the male point of view (or criticism) of Kathleen Hanna. Most guys’ opinions were cut out of the film, including well known male rock musician tributes, and so a film deliberately made by women for women. For all that bias it still seems to work well and have some sort of balance.
As there is little male input in the film there is no right of reply for male and female critics who questioned the reasons why Hanna was an angry young woman. She claimed to have been raped by her father as a young kid and had to suffer the indignity of working as a stripper in her late teens. But the incest turned out to be ‘inappropriate behavior’ by a drunken pop and her stripper act was, in fact, a job flipping burgers in MacDonald’s, which she claimed was the same as the exploitation of a woman because she was a vegetarian cutting meet. Err, ok luv.
The films qualities are learning about a movement you knew little about and just how good a mainstream rock act she would have been if she did embrace the corporate dollar. But she didn’t want anyone to have control over her, especially men, and so got to kept it real. That, I admire 100%. She could have been the Punk Blondie and certainly left Joan Jett in the shade. Maybe if she did embrace the rock media early on she never would have been notorious and admired by feminist and so disappeared with the rest of the great pretenders. Clearly she was more a feminist movement than rock star. What she won’t admit is her good looks to men helped.
It’s a film for her fans but also for general documentary lovers. It’s a good piece. I don’t have a problem with feminist for having their views but it irritates when it becomes about more about gay women simply not liking men for the reasons why women don’t succeed. Hanna certainly used her sexual antics and dress on stage to make her points but also a rather good song writer. The question the film didn’t really grapple with is did she use feminism to be afforded the fame her good looks and talent deserved or was this really a woman sticking up for the sisterhood. I’m minded to think it was a bit of both plus a little bit of something else. Everybody wants to be loved and admired right?
Under the Radar –‘ The Punk Singer works ... as an eye-witness account of an important movement in feminist art; it's a film as vibrant and as vital as [Hanna's] music’.
Sight & Sound –‘ Anderson's film -- a scrappy, exuberant battler like its subject -- shows how Hanna has transmuted a hunger borne of body-image pressure into a hunger to change the world’.
Flickphilospher –‘ A fantastic introduction to original riot grrrl Kathleen Hanna and her groundbreaking work in music, feminism, and all-around kickass awesomeness’.
The Pittsburgh Times –‘ The Punk Singer is the sort of film that makes you want to shriek with a hectic muddle of rage, adoration and passion! A must-see piece of cinema’.
Financial Times –‘Initially held together by grainy VHS footage and cuttings from old fanzines, the film is gifted with a protagonist of endless brio and a cultural backdrop just distant enough to feel forgotten’.
Nonflics –‘perhaps there is an inherent contradiction in attempting to capture a democratizing movement through an individual figure, as rocktastic and badass as that figure might be’.
having purchased an easy grabber from max tv and after several attemps to download the software after getting in touch with them i was told by an engineer that the system will only work on a 32 bit operating system the presenter who sells this gaget omits to tell you this so now i am left with a totally useless piece of junk as i have had it more than 14 days they will not refund my money but they will give me a credit note so i can purchase some more useless gagets so anyone purchasing this wonderful grabber be warned it will only operate on a 32 bit operating system and they do not have the software for a 64 bit operating system
Ordered a set of cordless straighteners on the 8th november 2008 ! waited until the 15th before i contacted them,and was told they had arrived in there warehouse that very day ??? they would be shipped out that day via UPS and i would receive them 2 days later.5 days later, no straighteners ! telephoned MAX.TV , i was told that the straighteners were not in the uk,they were in germany,and i would receive them aprox 7-10 days later !so obviously i was lied to when i was told they were in the warehouse !wont be using MAX.TV again
I'll probably sound a bit sad here talking about a shopping channel, but i really like Max.TV.
Now its not a live shopping channel like QVC or Ideal World, but it is very professional both looking and with regards to the presenters.
They sell all sorts of electricals, gadgets, game console accessories and other electricals. The channel runs 24 hours a day and if you miss a product it will likely be shown later on in the day.
When i said it looks professional, what i meant is the on-screen information that all shopping channels have, and their own adverts the show between products. The one screen information looks great, is very clear and there are never any spelling or grammar mistakes. It shows all the information you need such as price, P&P price, phone number and website, the item currently on and the item number.
The adverts they have are very professional as well, they use good graphics and media to make impressive adverts.
As i also said, the presenters are very professional as well. There is one main female presenter who does most of the products, but i have seen a second female, and a male presenter who also do some of the presentations. The main female presenter really does know what she is on about with all the products and you can tell she is not just reading from an Autocue or has quickly done a load of internet research first. She seems really friendly and actually makes watching the channel more enjoyable.
I have never really seen the other two presenters much but i know they are also very professional.
They offer some great products. I have only ever ordered one thing from them, an old fashioned popcorn maker. It cost £20 which included a large tub of popping kernels and 5 cinema style tubs. It has £3.95 P&P as well. I ordered it and within about 2-3 days it arrived. It was quite a large box as well so i was very impressed with the P&P cost. The quality of the product is very impressive and i am glad i bought it and i will probably use max tv again. I did order it online from their website at max.tv but you can also order on the phone. Another thing i was impressed with was the fact that they take payment from just about every card, including Solo which i have. QVC and Ideal World don't accept Solo and they are big companies.
The website is also very professional and easy to navigate. There are tabs at the top for grouped items or you can use the search box to either put an item name or the product code if you know it. Also with most of the products you can watch video presentation online and the quality is impressive.
I'm sure i could say more about this channel as it is really good. They do not have a huge number of products but they do have quite a few, and they do use some big brands unlike some shopping channels which only ever have brands you have never heard off. They often sell products for Nintendo Wii's, PS3 and Xbox 360s.
If you are looking for a present for someone, give the website a try at max.tv or if you have sky (and possibly virgin media) visit channel 675 to check out the channel.
MAX TV is the first shopping channel dedicated to videogame accessories, innovative gadgets and toys for boys who are probably old enough to know better.