|Index||3 reviews in total|
This movie is a must see for every woman out there. It is a story of
women getting together to do something without men, but at the same
time finding that women can be as insensitive and self-interested as
any man. The issues of the ownership of the means of production are as
acute in this league as they were in the the NFL, MLB, and NBA in the
70s & 80s, but on a scale that keeps it right at home.
The girls (err, I mean women, of course!) take over a man's idea, but find that effort alone is not enough to overcome the hostilities from within of the have-nots. Eventually it is a proletariat revolt that makes you want to go pick up a hammer and anvil. This is an excellent movie, and should be up for all of the documentary awards this year.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The BGGW (Bad Girls Good Women) was formed in Austin,Texas in 2001 by a
guy named Dan who envisioned something that would combine surreal
showmanship in a carnival-like atmosphere.
The reason the league took off at all, in my view, is because the skaters quickly figured out that Dan, the promoter was full of it and that they were going to have do it all themselves. At a certain age every woman has met enough guys who made promises they couldn't keep to recognize one.
The girls did get some inspiration to think outside the box from him and came out with some interesting innovations like the penalty wheel but they ended up staging a very basic derby promotion in most respects.
That is not to say there were no bumps on the track. Specifically those were related to the power structure of the league which the veteran skaters were entitled to feel as though they should have some dominion over.
Newer skaters demanded a greater say over time which shelved plans for the league to be incorporated. An impasse could have resulted in a rival league and two entities competing over a market that had not yet been developed to the point where it was even worth fighting over but from a moral perspective.
One can say that women do things differently from men but seeing the athletes in this league and comparing it with male athletes and their sports leagues there is only a little evidence of contrast. The women running the BGGW league still viewed the power structure as being pyramid shaped with those who had the most time served having greater control than newer skaters. That was workable up until it wasn't.
We also see skaters get injured without comprehensive health care. This is a reminder I get that I am watching an American movie when someone gets in financial trouble just because they had to pay for medical attention. If the United States is such a great country then why is it that when someone gets sick or hurt they think that is the time to make money off of them.
Eventually the viewer can determine whether he or she wants to pick sides in the dispute and who is more sympathetic. The veteran skaters who started the league have a point but then so do the skaters they trained. The novelty of an all-female promotion also created an atmosphere alien to many women throughout history i.e. one where they could in no way blame men for any of their problems and instead turned their guns on each other.
The only way we can get some idea in modern terms what the formation of the National Football League, NBA, MLB and NHL might have been like is by taking a magnifying glass to a small promotion like this. Because of that this film is an exercise in sports anthropology.
The BGGW (Now called Lonestar Rollergirls) league group complained that the team nicknames and motifs from their league had been ripped off by the rival league, the Texas Rollergirls. Sports historians can note that there were no less than three teams named "White Sox" in Chicago at one time with one having a different spelling.
Yet the leagues co-exist. The Lonestar Rollergirls acquired a bank track whilst the Texas Rollergirls continued using a flat track. One notes stark differences in not merely the presentation but the severity of injuries due to the difficulties a bank track can give inexperienced skaters.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Not to be confused with the Tour de France documentary about the same
name, but leaning towards the 60's b-movie for inspiration, this movie
follows the fortunes of the revived Texas roller derby league over a
period of a couple of years detailing the ups and downs of the along
There were a lot of people interviewed in the making of the documentary and you can tell it became as much a part of the director's life as it was the story of the people involved. I never actually noticed the director on screen on the film, which was a nice change as they are not meant to be the focus of the story.
As with any organization with a lot of people involved there is bound to be politics and differences of opinion. The split in the league was unfortunate, but from diversity comes richness as both leagues now seem to be doing well. The original organisers ended up resigning after their struggles, but that often happens after such turbulent events and it is not until you step back from something until you appreciate what you have achieved.
I have to admit not to knowing much about roller derby before this documentary (Bob Log III did play at one of their bouts though) and had only ever heard of the skater Punky Bruiser due to her involvement in a movie. There are lots of opportunities to become acquainted with a whole new group of skaters through this film and it would definitely give me another reason to go to Austin, Texas apart from SXSW.
Action fans will not be disappointed as along with the training, there are quite a few bouts covered and some on a traditional banked track. For the gore hounds, there are quite a few crashes and some blood but it is not dwelt on.
Special guests at the screening I attended were the Victorian Roller Derby League. From the whoops and hollers coming from the rows behind me I can tell they really enjoyed the film and hopefully they will start having their competitions soon after coming up to speed with their training.
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