Sunday, May 18, 2014

So, I saw "The Punk Singer"

I am just fine with being the bad guy. I have dealt with that for forever, so don't think I'm saying this for effect, but I don't really care for Bikini Kill. I think Kathleen Hanna has flashes of brilliance, but mostly her ignorance, and ego get in the way of her actually being brilliant.  So, why I am watching a movie about her? Well, mostly for ancillary reasons- I like people who like her, and I dig a bunch of the aesthetics that people around her use. Is there a small amount of hate-watching? I suppose, but it's more a wish- I wish she'd confront herself, the way she confronts everything around her. I know so many people like her, and that's my frustration with them as well.  I wish I could say that this movie fully does that- and the last third goes a long way towards that. It's something most of us learn much earlier on- that we can be wrong, that we can lie to ourselves, that our certainty can be misplaced. That she allowed the cameras to roll was brave, and probably more honest than she ever was in her bands. But, then, it all gets taken away- she goes off on a rant about how her truth gets taken away because she's a woman. So, we're right back to her selling that most American of commodities: Confidence. I wonder if she'll ever understand that she never had an idea that wasn't expressed better by someone else before her? Yeah, I know, but it's true- 90% of her thing was done by Alice Bag, and the other 10% by the Slits.. Before you say I'm sexist- consider that I said that all the way back in 1996, alongside the remark that Fugazi had done nothing that Gang of Four, the Pop Group, The Clash, and Killing Joke hadn't done already. But, see, ever since Ronald Reagan, that's what Americans seem to do, intellectually, and politically- recycle ideas, but dress them up in a bit more flash, and a whole lot more confidence. It sometimes frustrates me so much that I want to tell people " shut up and look pretty, because that's what you're best at". Of course, I respect folks more than that might imply, and there are people out there who trade in better ideas, and more realized Art, but I get so frustrated when an Ian Mackaye gets the kudos that really belong to Andy Gill, or Kathleen Hanna gets the praise that belongs to Alice Bag, or people tell me how Bad Religion invented pop punk, or  how "revolutionary" Wilco was- when so much of this stuff is just recycled, with a layer of pretty shine.
So, is it a good documentary? Nope, it's a puff piece, that's little better than a People magazine article. Is it worth seeing? Maybe, if you turn the sound off, because most of these folks have great style- they all look totally cool- but if you really listen to what they have to say, you'll feel more stupid on the other end of it, for having listened.

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