The Linda Lindas in Moxie!

The Linda Lindas almost weren’t in Moxie. On the set, Amy Poehler told the band she wanted them to be in the Netflix movie after seeing them open for Bikini Kill at the Palladium. But we heard that others on the team thought they were too young to be in a high school movie. Bela and maybe Lucia, who were 15 and 13 when they shot their scene, could pass. But 12-year-old Eloise and 9-year-old Mila? No way!

It’s practically urban legend that Bikini Kill lead singer Kathleen Hanna stood up for the band, saying they were the only ones who could play their song “Rebel Girl” in the movie (the song plays a key part in Jennifer Matthieu’s YA book). A line about The Linda Lindas being allies from a nearby middle school was added and tutors were hired to watch them at the recording studio and take them away from the movie set during downtime to do homework. Bummer, but they still got good snacks and food from craft services!

After a flurry of recording their songs during Thanksgiving break and filming in the first week of December in 2019, there was no news regarding the movie until the trailer came out in February 2021. Whew, the movie was finally coming out on March 3. Cool, the band was still in it. Then they got asked to play for a preview screening for cast and crew, which is how they found out their Muffs cover was going to be used, too. Rad!

Due to the pandemic, the band members were filmed at home on dropped-off gear, with Sawhorse Productions directing from afar and then assembling all the pieces. It was awesome to finally see Amy Poehler introduce the stream and tell everyone to stick around for a performance by the “amazing” Linda Lindas. It turned out great!

The movie turned out great, too! I love how Poehler mashes up the rebellion of Rock ‘n’ Roll High School with the squeaky clean vibe of a John Hughes-era teen movie and then subverts both with intersectional feminism. The humor is low-key (and not gross-out like modern teen movies) and so is the riot grrrl indoctrination. I kept waiting for our hero to go through her mom’s crate of records and wanted the concert scene to be longer, but there are more than enough buttons, stickers, flyers, zines, and posters to appease us viewers who took part in the riot grrrl scene. And enough reflection to let everyone know it wasn’t perfect.

Writing a concert into the story was a great move for a movie with zines and leather jackets, too. And featuring The Linda Lindas instead of a fake band or a bigger band with no connection to riot grrrl or punk rock was kind of brilliant. They are young girls. They are half Asian and half Latinx. They have played with riot grrrl legends and pioneers like Bikini Kill, Alice Bag, and Phranc, in addition to bands that build on it like Best Coast and Bleached. And while their scene is brief, it is packed with pure joy, true friendship, and punk rock power.

Audiences who aren’t familiar with the subculture can look up The Linda Lindas and see that they are living, breathing examples of the legacy of riot grrrl and DIY punk. They were already covering “Rebel Girl” and dedicating “Big Mouth” to the memory of Kim Shattuck before they were asked to be in the movie. And if they are real, why can’t intersectional feminism, unity, compassion, and revolution be real, too? 

Thanks to Amy Poehler and Kathleen Hanna for getting The Linda Lindas in there! Thanks to Sawhorse Productions for making the video and letting the band share it! Thanks to Bikini Kill and The Muffs for being awesome! After being such a huge fan and seeing them so many times, I can’t believe my daughter, nieces, and our family friend are now a small part of their stories. One day, we’ll see movies in theaters and bands at shows again, but this is very exciting and inspiring right now.

Author: martinkendallwong2014

Co-founder of Giant Robot magazine (RIP) and Save Music in Chinatown (since 2013)

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