AN IN-DEPTH LOOK AT ONE OF THE NINETIES’ MOST IMPORTANT MUSIC FIGURES
The first question everyone seems to ask about a documentary on feminist activist and well-regarded musician Kathleen Hanna is, “What took so long?”
For years Hanna fronted riot grrrl bands, such as Bikini Kill, Le Tigre and, currently, The Julie Ruin. She was a prolific songwriter and a freight train of strong-willed activism for women’s rights.
She wrote brazenly confrontational lyrics in which took shots at misogyny in all its forms and united a generation of women together to say they want their piece of the pie, as well.
The Punk Singer, a documentary by Sini Anderson, follows Hanna as she transforms from spoken word poet in tiny coffee shops and art galleries in her native Olympia, WA, to punk rocker, to one-woman band, back to band leader to, finally, disappearing act. The documentary discloses why, after the dissolution of Le Tigre in 2011, Hanna vanished from the music scene without another word.
The Punk Singer is about as well-rounded a documentary as we will ever see on Hanna. It features interviews with many of those who knew her throughout her career, as well as meaningful insight from her famous husband, Adam Horovitz of Beastie Boys (yes, she does see the humour in the fact that she married someone who got famous for one of the most sexist anthems in popular music, “Girls”). Combined with her own revelations about the struggles she faced growing up and the health issues that have plagued her adult life, this is a revealing, important document on someone who continues to inspire, excite and enrage.
By Dustin Griffin