Tonight I saw down to watch the new Amy Poehler film Moxie on Netflix. It is based on the book by Jennifer Mathieu. I’ve been a fan of Poehler for many years since her stint on SNL, and Parks & Recreation. She was always admirable, and my personal favorite work of hers will always be Wet Hot American Summer. So I had high hopes for this young adult centered movie about feminism and zines, and the many things that fueled my own personal youth and introduction to feminism. I always looked up to Amy in my twenties as someone who was at the fore front of comedy in the early aughts.
I am obviously not the target demographic for this film, as someone who’s hit their mid thirties with no kids of my own. At the same time I love devouring content directed at the youth of today. Which I always hope will give me a hint of their perspective. Some of my personal favorite Netflix driven content for young adults include Sabrina the Teenage Witch, The Babysitters Club, and also To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, and yes….I even liked Emily in Paris as background TV. Though not enough to want to give it Golden Globe nominations.
As the movie began the more I figured I was going to dislike Moxie, but I held on to the very end in the hope that it would find more ground. Instead, it seems a bit misguided and doesn’t exactly practice what it preaches. I of course don’t think this movie is going to harm anyone and it’s message, but for some reason it feels like it should have come out during the year of the woman’s march. Or at a time when white feminism was peaking, as then maybe it would have blended in better. The world though thankfully has moved on.
I made mistakes then too. I worshiped white feminists like Poehler. I wore my RBG t-shirt with pride and no remorse, I worshipped Kathleen Hannah and Bikini Kill, Bitch and Bust magazine were on regular rotation as was buying old copies of Sassy off eBay. At the same time I wasn’t making my work intersectional then and many years later neither does Amy. Even though she repeatedly points it out in her movie. After all, even Leslie Knope from Parks and Rec had white feminist convictions and Liberal minded ideals that worshipped people like Joe Biden.
I think she tries her best to handle the content as a white woman, and from a white woman’s perspective but it still doesn’t feel good enough or strong enough for today. Again I’m left wishing through the whole movie that I had seen the side characters backstories instead of this white girls personal self discovery which only comes at the expense of her friends. I also find it strange that we really find out nothing about Amy Poehlers character either except vague notions of her past. It feels weird to me that she points out how she took on the world in her youth, but as she stands in scrubs in her kitchen that’s over and done with. She talks about keeping her maiden name, but other than that I have no idea exactly what Poehler is pushing for anymore.
She acts in the film like it’s only kids that can help change anything and the adults just give up, or look back fondly at once was. The film is very white, very straight. Except for the side characters and BIPOC people are sick of being side characters. I found it weird to see Amy’s character photoshopped into actual images with Bikini Bill. I also didn’t find the white characters to be strongly suited to their roles and convictions. It seemed to lack sincerity or real heart despite dealing with really tough topics.
Marsha Gay Hardens character is insufferable and clueless in more ways than one. I’m left wondering what Ike Barinholtz character was thinking, other than bumbling around cluelessly. It lacked real humor, or sincerity. Even the topic of rape culture is not really explained but semi-exploited and within maybe 10 minutes at the end of the film.
Even a mainstream television show like Superstore on NBC is executing how to deal with equality in a group format way more constructively and with ease than this movie. Over all, disappointing and I do hope that Poehler delves into something deeper in any of her next projects. This passes the Bechdel Test but our youth deserve way more.