Monday, 30 November 2015

Charli XCX - The F Word and Me

Charli XCX's documentary, The F Word and Me, aired this week on BBC3. With the "f word" here being "feminism", Charli interviewed fellow artists while touring the UK and US for her most recent album, Sucker, and examined the intersection between feminism and pop music.

As well as hearing from Charli and her band, we also hear stories from Liz, Marina and the Diamonds, Ryn Weaver, Lizzy Plapinger and Jack Antonoff.

I've seen a few articles criticising this documentary for giving a more personal take on feminism rather than an in-depth debate... first of all, the title is The F Word and me, so y'know. I think the more personal approach worked to its advantage; discussions on feminism can be quite complex at times but, by allowing these women to talk about their own experiences with sexism, it not only made the subject more accessible, but also demonstrated how common these experiences actually are.

It should be shocking that these women are all able to recount such similar experiences, but it's almost expected, which is kind of the point of this documentary; these are all universal experiences. As Lizzy Plapinger (one half of Ms Mr, and co-founder of Neon Gold records) talks about meeting with label executives and finding herself blanked, with all discussion being aimed at her male business partner, I immediately found myself thinking of similar stories I've seen posted on Everyday Sexism.

Another common story was how Charli and her band are always referred to as "Charli and her all-girl band"; no one would ever point out the bands gender if they were all male.

Body image and appearance was also a recurring theme; Charli demonstrated the different articles she's had written about her depending on what she wears on stage, alternating between accusing her of showing "too much" or being "too modest". Later, we see Charli talking to Ryn Weaver about body hair.
My only real complaint is that, aside from Charli herself, we didn't get to hear much from any women-of-colour, though I realise this is also partly down to time constraints (Charli herself has stated on Twitter that she wishes she'd been able to feature more artists). It was interesting to hear her take on the reaction to Rihanna's recent "Bitch Better Have My Money" video though, wherein she did briefly acknowledge that race plays an issue in how a pop star is portrayed:
"I think this film speaks to a bigger story; Rihanna is dismantling the idea of what a pop star should be, ie. perfect, polished and usually white."
I'd definitely recommend watching this documentary, if you haven't already. It did a great job of addressing the fact that while, on the surface, pop music seems like a girl-friendly place, behind-the-scenes there's still a long way to go.

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