posted by meowser
The above is a three-minute preview of Girls Rock! The Movie, a documentary that came out last year about Portland’s Rock and Roll Camp for Girls (which has now spread to other cities besides Portland). I just got the DVD from Netflix.
Boy, do I wish something like this existed when I was ‘twixt 8 and 18 (the age range of girls in the camp). Over a period of five days, girls break out into groups based on musical tastes, form bands, pick up instruments they’ve (mostly) never played before, have lessons, write songs, and get mentored and watch performances by the likes of Beth Ditto, Carrie Brownstein (formerly of Sleater-Kinney), and local guitar goddess LKN (that’s her flipping her hair around in the preview). And a week later, there they are onstage, performing these new songs on these new instruments with these new people they didn’t even know the week before, and who they’ll remember forever.
And here’s the real reason this belongs on a fat blog: They tackle the body image stuff. Spectacularly. Not just by exposing them to Beth Ditto (although I’m sure that doesn’t hurt), but by raising their awareness of how the culture does a number on them, and teaching them how to treat themselves and others with more compassion. One of the most engaging people in the film is a size 14-to-16-ish Korean-American teenager named Laura who loves “bunnies and death metal,” not necessarily in that order, and you can see her in the preview, saying she doesn’t even think much about how she hates her body, it’s just always there, and she’s used to it. Obviously five days in camp isn’t going to magically transform a girl’s self-image, Beth Ditto or no Beth Ditto. But you can see her self-loathing start to melt away as she finds out more about what she has to offer. It’s gorgeous.
And the filmmakers fill us in on factoids about how the biggest desire of teenage girls (according to surveys) is weight loss, and how ridiculously young most girls are when they start dieting. Also, they mention that when boys are asked about their “best feature” they are more likely to name a talent, while girls asked the same question tend to name a body part. Shit, I would have too, maybe even last week. Not anymore.
Folks, this is what I want for all of us. I want us all to think we’re the shit, that we have as much to offer as anyone else does, that the narrower-than-a-guitar-string standards of what is “beautiful” shouldn’t keep anyone from creating or force us to hide our light under bushels because we’re not “attractive” enough. It’s bad enough when they do that shit to performers, but it can affect even the non-entertainers among us, the painters and writers and filmmakers who don’t develop their talents because they don’t think they are telegenic or magazine-friendly in appearance. So many problems in the world come from people taking their crappy self-esteem (and the often-attendant bloated egotism) out on other people and on themselves, and that’s just ass. And not the good kind.
Not that I think Rock Camp for Girls is going to save the world or anything. I doubt any one thing can ever do that. But it’s getting girls to talk back to a culture that hates them, and boy, do we need that in this day and age. So see this movie. It will let people know we want more like this.
And if reading the above is making you wish you were between 8 and 18 so you could go to Rock Camp, guess what? You can. Yes, there’s a Ladies’ Rock Camp (for anyone female-identified 19 and up). I’m seriously considering attending the October session. Anyone wanna come with?