"FEMINISTS, WE'RE CALLING YOU! PLEASE REPORT TO THE FRONT DESK!"
It's fucking hard to be feminist. (If you just made a dick joke to yourself then get the heck outta here!) No one said negotiating power was easy, but that doesn't mean that you can't rock out while challenging the status-quo, being politically active and refusing to compromise your principles. Enter Le Tigre, and for fun's sake, let's put 'em on tour!
Le Tigre: On Tour, directed by Kerthy Fix, is a documentary that follows the band on their final tour in 2004. After having released This Island, the film chronicles the band's tour of the same name and attempts to offer a glimpse into what it means to be feminist, to be artistic, to be queer, to be subject to the media monster that once commodified a movement as prolific and DIY-based as Riot Grrrl (and be willing to grapple the beast once more), and to do it all with awesome comedic vignettes.
Kathleen Hanna's (formerly of Bikini Kill) message to 'ignore the haters' is an apt description of the film's main theme. Hanna, along with band-members Johanna Fateman and JD Samson, aims to counter the mandate that women have to be nice all the time and does a fine job of it throughout the narrative of the film. The documentary references their battles waged in the name of gender display, remaining both feminist AND lesbian in their politics even when media coverage is on the line, and those that centre on an all too familiar theme in feminist work – a sharpened outsider focus on women's relationships and connections to the 'larger than life' works of men (in Le Tigre's case, it's Hanna's cleverly writing 'Kurt smells like teen spirit' on Cobain's wall one evening causing the anthemic song to be written, but we needn't look far to see this trend continue on in popular culture. The buzz surrounding Kathryn Bigelow, even from a feminist lens, more often than not, whispers the name of James Cameron too).
So whaddaya get when you sit down to watch Le Tigre: On Tour? Tour footage that spurs on intense toe-tapping followed by full-on dance raging? Check. Inclusive feminist lyrics and stories about negotiating female masculinity all delivered in a jazz-ercise meets West Side Story-inspired costume? Check. A pill by pill account of Fateman's daily vitamins? Check. Beyond these entertaining elements, the film offers a real critique of Riot Grrrl culture and the way it was co-opted by mainstream media. Hanna speaks of horizontal Riot Grrrl oppression and the ways that the movement, and the feminist space it created, morphed, leaving her somewhat angry yet as politically vital as ever. What more could you really want in a documentary?
Portlanders! Le Tigre: On Tour is screening at this year's QDoc: Portland Queer Documentary Film Festival – the only queer documentary film festival in the United States! Catch the screening Saturday, June 5th at 8:30 PM at Clinton Street Theater. BitchMedia is proud to be a community partner for the event.