PREVIEW: Girl Gang Season @ The Star & Shadow
By Hannah D'Arcy on August 29, 2012 in Film
Over the past decade or so, feminist ideology has become a niche concept, concentrated in areas such as video gaming, whilst (mostly) equal pay and Sex and the City-inspired sexual freedom has created the illusion of equality with the masses. Is it time for feminism to make a comeback? In light of the recent controversies in the news, I would say yes.
The diabolical fiasco surrounding Russian feminist punk band Pussy Riot, imprisoned, without fair trial, for voicing anti-Putin opinions in a country where you’re not allowed to speak out, as well as the more recent and equally disturbing rape apologists; politicians George Galloway (you remember? Weird cat guy…) and American miscreant Mitt Romney, separately discussing the definition of rape and “legitimate rape”. Yes people, apparently “rape” is a definition still up for debate. Also wading into this argument and instantly out of his depth, was washed-up, all-but-forgotten X Factor “winner” Steve Brookstein expressing some disconcertingly misogynistic and, well, quite rapey comments on his Twitter feed:
“commonsense [sic] tells me my wife would expect the occasional stealth raid at night”
My favourite tentative step into political debate from him was this clever little metaphor:
“Do you want a drink? No thanks. What about a quick cup of tea? Oh ok then. Just a quick one. ….No means no?”
Of course! It’s clear now, because rape is EXACTLY like hot beverages. I bet the first thing he does on a morning is brew himself a piping hot mug of rape.
Anyway, I digress. The point that I am trying to make is that we are being reminded that there is still a place for feminism; that just because women are generally doing more than we’ve done in the past, because our generation is standing up to the Daily Mail ideals of women being baby-making machines and that just because the nanna from Sex and the City keeps harping on about cock does not mean that feminism is dead. Which brings my rant neatly around to the point of this article…
September 2nd sees the start of the Girl Gang Film Season at Ouseburn’s Star & Shadow Cinema. This exciting four-date film-fest will showcase the best of underground, DIY, controversial and queer-culture movies, as well as guest speakers and Q&A sessions with some of the directors.
The season opens on Sunday 2nd with a special double-bill, featuring Lou Adler’s Ladies and Gentlemen; The Fabulous Stains and David Markey’s Desperate Teenage Lovedolls, with an introduction to the films and Girl Gangs as a concept by Durham University’s Dr Julia Downes.
On Thursday 6, the cinema hosts a triple-header of films by Canadian director, GB Jones – The Yo-Yo Gang, The Troublemakers and The Lollipop Generation, followed by a telephone question and answer session with the director. The following Sunday, viewers will be treated to fem-punk film Times Square with a follow-up talk on controversies in the representation of lesbianism in 80s culture, by Newcastle University’s Dr Katherine Farrimond and the season ends on Thursday 13 September with a look at 30 years of women in underground punk culture in Amy Oden’s From the Back of the Room, at the end of which, Oden will be available for a Skype Q&A.
Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains (1981) was Lou Adler’s follow-up to his 1978 success, Up In Smoke. The film follows the story of a 17-year-old girl who manages to gain an instant rebellious reputation during a local TV interview. After slipping in an advert for her band’s concert, the film follows the ups and downs of The Fabulous Stains and the pros and cons of being a rebellious woman in the 1980s. Desperate Teenage Lovedolls (1984), shot entirely on Super-8, follows the antics of three teenage girls who run away when their mothers try to stop them from forming a band and run into trouble in the form of their manager.
GB Jones’ films are set to provide a more controversial evening, concentrating on sex, violence, drink and drugs. 2008’s The Lollipop Generation was described as “sexual anarchism” and 1992’s The Yo-Yo Gang’s tagline reads: “Girl gangs frequently out-curse, out-fight and out-sex every boys’ gang around.” All three films salute the DIY punk culture by being filmed on super-8 and often handheld cameras.
1980’s Times Square has become a cult LGBT film, because of the lesbian undertones between lead characters Nicky (from a poor background) and Pamela (from a wealthy background), both of whom are being examined for mental illness. The girls escape from hospital, meet a sympathetic DJ in the form of Tim Curry and, you guessed it, form a punk band. Interesting fact about this film: the Manic Street Preachers song Roses In The Hospital was written about Nicky and Pamela. You see? You’re always learning things with us.
Amy Oden’s 2011 documentary From The Back Of The Room takes us back through 30 years of women and girls in the underground, third wave feminist and DIY punk cultures and examines what these women and their cultures go through now and what may await them in the future.
I managed to ask Amy Oden a couple of questions leading up to the Newcastle screening of her documentary, which has been enjoying successful screenings all over Europe.
HD: What inspired you to make this documentary? It obviously came with financial and personal cost to you, as all projects do, yet because of its subject matter, it’s unlikely to ever break into the mainstream. Does this bother you or does it add more meaning to the subject matter, knowing that it’s going to be appreciated by members of the underground cultures portrayed?
AO: The communities that have been the most engaged with the film are young musicians, film buffs, and women. These, I suppose, are my target audiences, and I’m fine with the film being viewed and discussed in those circles. I will say, however, that I feel some of the people who could most benefit from seeing it probably will never watch it, but I believe that’s the nature of doing political work.
HD: What would you say to people who argue that feminism has lost its relevance? There seems to be an attitude, especially in the UK (perpetuated by magazines and newspapers like the Daily Mail) that, since women are now “allowed” to have tattoos and sleep around a bit, that we have sexual equality. I would argue that the debate about “legitimate rape” that’s going on at the moment on both sides of the pond proves that we’re a long way from equality. Does feminism have more place perhaps now than ever?
AO: I think feminism is always relevant, and that people who think we have equality between genders really need to look at what their definition of equality is. The advances that we’ve made toward equality don’t erase the history of oppression or the pervasive social discrimination towards women in our culture – feminists remind everyone of that, and I think it’s easier for those who are privileged to try and forget it by pretending it doesn’t exist.
Advance tickets for each night are £4.50 (£3.00 concessions) at: or £5.00 (£3.50 concessions) on the night. Furthermore, the Star & Shadow are offering customers the opportunity to purchase a special pass for £12.00 (£8.00 concession) that grants access to all four screenings, includes a mini magazine and a mix CD. Take along confirmation of the purchase and collect your pass on the door. Considering it costs the best part of a tenner to go to one film these days, it’d be silly not to go.
Outside of the cinema, as part of the Girl Gangs season, The Cumberland Arms is hosting the official Going Underground? after party, featuring Silver Fox, Milky Wimpshake, Rexine, No Fit State and the Casual Terrorist. Fri 7 Sept, 8pm, £5 on the door.
Oh, and in case you’re wondering what these lovely images are in aid of, they’re stills from the aforementioned The Lollipop Generation, by GB Jones.
- Oberhausen Film Festival Comes To Star & Shadow Cinema