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Moxie rebrands riot grrrl for Generation Z 


     As I was mindlessly searching for something to watch on Netflix, I stumbled across Moxie. Released on Wednesday, Mar. 3, this Netflix Original is directed by and stars Amy Poehler as Ms. Carter, an entertainer I have loved since her debut on SNL. Moxie is centered on a punk-inspired, handmade feminist zine (a magazine-like booklet series) called “Moxie” that Vivian Carter, a shy high school teenager played by Hadley Robinson, anonymously distributes around her school. The zine unifies the girls at Vivian’s school, and new friendships blossom as a result. Moxie was an enjoyable watch, and impressively reintroduced the riot grrrl movement to a new generation.

     The movie begins with Vivian struggling to draft a college essay about what she is passionate about. Her first day of junior year would change that, though. When a new girl, Lucy, boldly stands up to Mitchell Wilson — a popular, misogynistic jock — it reminds Vivian of a song her mom, Ms. Carter, used to sing to her: Rebel Girl by Bikini Kill, a staple to the riot grrrl movement. Riot grrrl is often just associated with a punk aesthetic and music — but it is more so about embracing the angry woman within and voicing

moxie graphic.jpg

Graphic by Lexi Karaivanova

societal frustrations. Listening to riot grrrl music leads Vivian to look through a suitcase full of her mom’s riot grrrl zines, posters and concert photos. The riot grrrl memorabilia and Lucy’s confidence inspires Vivian to anonymously and passionately create “Moxie.” 

     In the first few zines, Vivian comments on how sexist and complacent her high school, Rockport, is because it allows guys to publicly rank girls into categories such as “Best Rack” and only enforces dress code on girls. As she leaves numerous zines in the bathroom and they becomes the talk of the school, everyone wonders “who is Moxie?” Moxie becomes more than just a zine by one person, though — it becomes a movement. The zine makes feminism easily digestible to Vivian’s classmates who may not have considered themselves feminists beforehand, and many of the girls in her grade find empowerment in the zines’ messages. A handful of the girls begin having Moxie meetings, theorizing new ways to send a message to their school and the sexists jocks. Moxie is simplistic and places emphasis on the friendships formed (along with typical best friend/boyfriend/family drama), and thus inevitably has a happy ending. The movie has the staples of any teen classic, just with a feminist focus driving the plot.

     Many of the feminists issues explored are only surface level, but it is fitting since Moxie is not supposed to be an unsettling and thought-provoking drama like Bombshell. Moxie is best enjoyed when you are not trying to search for subliminal messages. 

     The basic feminists principles are already embraced by the target audience (teens), so my biggest takeaway from the movie was the riot grrrl movement. I had some knowledge of riot grrrls before watching the movie, but I was more invested into the 90s punk-feminist movement as a result of Moxie. Seeing Moxie rebrand riot grrrl for Generation Z was something I did not know I needed, but am glad to have seen.

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