Do you remember that one scene in The L Word (Season 4) when a gaggle of the girls were playing Celebrity with Tina, her boyfriend and some other straight couples?
Shane was trying to get the guy on her team to guess the celeb with the following clues:
The guy asks, “One more time?” Blank face.
Shane gives up. “It’s Kathleen Hanna.” A woman asks “What’s she a celebrity for?”
Putting it mildly, Alice answers, “Oh she pretty much started the whole riot grrrl music scene but, hey.”
And the guy went home to listen to his Dave Matthews Band CDs. Just kidding — he stayed at the awkward party. But my point is that Kathleen Hanna may not be a household name to everyone, but she is for most feminists, queer people and anyone who grew up in the early ’90s. (Raises hand.) While she is definitely famous for the above-mentioned bands she was a part of (and is a part of, as Julie Ruin is making a comeback), Kathleen is an icon for so many other things, including her activism. She started early with zines and punk rock, and continues today as a teacher, blogger and talking head, mostly because she knows what the f she is talking about. (I like people like that!)
In a new interview with Spinner.com, Kathleen says she thinks that there has been some definite social change since she started making music.
“I think things are way better. Clearly, gay marriage is on the top of the agenda right now. It’s pretty amazing, considering where stuff was at when I was in high-school, when there were no LGBT Gay-Straight Alliances or any of that stuff,” she told the site. “Am I a huge Lady Gaga fan? No, but I think some of the stuff that she does that helps LGBT kids is amazing. And it’s great that that’s mainstream. It’s fantastic that there’s a pop star who’s willing to put herself out in that way.”
Which is what I hope people who aren’t fans of Le Tigre’s brand of electro-pop (if such people exist) can appreciate about Kathleen and bandmates JD Samson and Johanna Fateman. Kathleen was also asked if she paid any attention to the hip-hop group Odd Future, whose member Tyler the Creator was under fire for his homophobic nature. Kathleen said, in her totally Kathleen-way, “They don’t seem that interesting to me.” Of Sara Quin calling Tyler out, Kathleen says it may have backfired.
“I feel like, if you don’t want to listen to them, don’t listen to them. If you do want to listen to them, do listen to them,” Kathleen said. “I couldn’t really comment about on exactly what their lyrics are about, because I haven’t gotten that deep into it. But if people are writing lyrics that piss you off, hurt your feelings and make you feel like s–t, don’t listen to it. I don’t think the best idea is to have a boycott. Just don’t talk about them and they’ll go away. The more you talk about them, the more attention they get. Tegan and Sara fans probably wouldn’t even know this band existed if they weren’t talking about them. I find the whole conversation kind of boring. There are so many great artists that are doing interesting things, that I don’t want to focus on boring people.”
One thing that isn’t boring is the new Le Tigre documentary, which came out on DVD yesterday. Who Took the Bomp? follows the trio on their final (for now) trip around the world playing live shows. It’s not only hilarious and fun to see their individual backstage personas and inside jokes, it’s enlightening to hear their thoughts on JD’s popularity and gender expression as well as their struggles to be represented how they want to in magazines and advertisements. And if you’ve never gotten to see them live, the music performances include the choreography you will be glad to have experienced, even on your TV screen.
As for Kathleen’s favorite part of the documentary, she says it’s pretty much the same as mine. (Me + Kathleen 4eva.)
“It was interesting to hear Jo say these sweet, sentimental things about JD,” Kathleen said. “She talked about a lot of stuff that happened in terms of JD’s gender and presentation, how that did change how people perceived us as a band. I definitely got an education by seeing the way a journalist would treat her and not know how to treat her. I don’t know, I guess it just brought this issue to the fore. It felt really good to have that spoken out loud.”
Le Tigre may be on definite hiatus, but Kathleen Hanna isn’t going anywhere. Thank the goddess!