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I know I should be psyched to go see Girls Rock: The Movie

amoores Icon Posted by Anne Elizabeth Moore

March 12th, 2008

But I’m just not.

I’m concerned that in all the hype over the proof! Finally! That girls can represent themselves on a musical stage, that we’re overlooking the fact that, once again, men here are doing the representing. But because it’s a film, in which the two male filmmakers do not appear, it’s easy to ignore.

Not for me, though: I got an email quite early in the movie’s production phase from the concerned mother of someone involved—and no, I won’t say who—who’d come across an article I’d written several years ago on the subject of the film, the Rock’n’Roll Camp for Girls, where I volunteered in their flagship year. Admittedly, the article (you’ll have to scroll down to “Exposing Girls: Portland’s Rock’n'Roll Camp for Girls and Founder/Director Misty McElroy Provide an Unexpected Education” to read it, or just haul out your old issues of Matte magazine) was reactionary and malformed, but my basic concerns were this: creating a space for girls to explore their self-expression for the pleasure of consumers is entirely different than creating a space for girls to explore self-expression.

I even think I used that tired old construct, The Masculine Gaze, to pinpoint the particular consumers over which I fretted most ardently—and with this film, The Masculine Gaze is made manifest. And, of course, profits.

So I will see Girls Rock: The Movie, because girls do in fact rock, and I feel compelled to vote on this issue with my almighty dollars. I know plenty of girls whose lives have been changed by rock’n’roll—both in a camp setting and without. In a roundabout way, I’m one of ‘em.

But I won’t find it empowering, until there’s a similar movement to get girls into the production studios, behind the cameras, or owning the presses so that they can truly take control of the music—or movie, or book, or magazine—they make. Because that actually will rock.

“Claim Your Voice,” one tagline for the film demands, clearly aimed at potential girl viewers. But when “claiming,” (like “empowering”) is stripped of all editorial control and financial reward, it seems a rather safe message for the old boys’ club to present.

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