Poehler produces, directs, and stars in this story about a student who sparks a revolution at her high school. Moxie is based on the best-selling young adult novel by Jennifer Mathieu.
Here is Netflix’s official synopsis of Moxie:
Vivian (Hadley Robinson), a seemingly shy 16-year-old, has always preferred to keep her head down and fly under the radar. But when the arrival of a new student (Alycia Pascual-Peña) forces her to examine the unchecked behavior of her fellow students running rampant at her high school, Vivian realizes she’s fed up. Inspired by her mother’s (Amy Poehler) rebellious past, Vivian anonymously publishes an underground zine called Moxie to expose bias and wrongdoing in her high school, and unexpectedly sparks a movement. Now at the center of a revolution, Vivian begins to forge new friendships with other young women and allies, reaching across the divide of cliques and clubs as they learn to navigate the highs and lows of high school together.
Inspired by her mom, Lisa (played by Poehler), Moxie‘s main character, Vivian creates a zine that she self-publishes and distributes on the down-low within her school. It turns out that Lisa was a riot grrrl in the 1990s.
But what exactly does riot grrrl mean? It was an underground movement that originated primarily in the United State’s Pacific Northwest, combining punk music, feminism, and politics. A large component of the culture, zines criticized the status quo. They spread the riot grrrl ethos across the US and 26 other countries world wide.
While riot grrrl was an important part of third-wave feminism, Poehler acknowledges and addresses in a Netflix interview how the original movement wasn’t intersectional enough:
“What we tried to do is recognize that when you achieve progress and growth, you also have to acknowledge the mistakes you might have made getting there. And one of the things I think that ‘90s feminism, especially the Gen X Riot Grrrl brand of feminism, could have done better was to more actively include women of color. Young feminists today understand that there is no one voice or one face or one take on women’s rights, and that in order to make change and to have real conversation, you have to have all different voices in that conversation.”
In that same interview, Poehler discusses how one of the most prominent leaders in the riot grrrl movement, Kathleen Hanna, provided music for Moxie. Hanna of Bikini Kill, Le Tigre, and The Julie Ruin, created the anthem, “Rebel Girl”, and the song “Just My Kind.” Moxie‘s killer soundtrack is by acclaimed music supervisor Alexandra Patsavas (Grey’s Anatomy, The OC). It includes tunes by CSS, Gossip, and a swoon-worthy cover of “Heaven” by Brandi Carlile that’s even better than Bryan Adams’ original.
Poehler also touches on some of the most important things the young cast of Moxie taught her while filming:
“What’s so great about being around this cast, and young activists in general, is that they have a sense of urgency and optimism, and a tolerance for questions. They don’t come at things from a jaded perspective. Experience and wisdom can be overrated when you want to make change happen.”
“I learned a lot from being around this cast personally, because I really think they’re just incredible people. [B]ut working with them was also a very good reminder that whatever version of thinking you ascribe to today will probably need to be rebooted in the future. You’ll need to learn some new software. Change can be very, very uncomfortable. But if you’re open to it, and if you’re open to asking questions and staying tender and not getting defensive, then you’ll get a lot from it. [A]nd you’ll be able to become a better citizen.”
At its heart, Moxie is a powerful story about self-discovery. Poehler remarks:
“It’s so interesting to watch a coming-of-age story that’s centered around the question – ‘What do I care about, and how am I going to show that I care about it?’ The love story is between these women and the friendships they form. The community they build.”
Start Women’s History Month with the patriarchy-smashing dramedy, Moxie, available on Netflix on Wednesday, March 3. And be sure to add Wiretap to your Chrome browser so you can watch along with posts and reactions from riot grrrls and allies around the world.
Images Courtesy of Netflix