Undeniably one of the most important and influential gay music acts in the last twenty years, Pansy Division pioneered the "queercore" genre long before other gay musicians had the ... See full summary »
Undeniably one of the most important and influential gay music acts in the last twenty years, Pansy Division pioneered the "queercore" genre long before other gay musicians had the confidence to come out of the closet, and without major record label support or mainstream radio airplay. Using original and archive footage and covering over fifteen years as a group, Pansy Division: Life in a Gay Rock Band is a fast-paced, intimate and humorous account of one of rock's most fearless acts. From their first days in San Francisco's underground music scene to a full-fledged stadium tour with Green Day and beyond, founding members Jon Ginoli and Chris Freeman overcome increasingly difficult line-up changes, prejudice and near-poverty to keep the band together and create music that has truly made a difference. The film also examines issues that faced the gay community in the 90's, as well as the adversity one encounters simply by being oneself. Featuring interviews and appearances by Lookout ... Written by
I came to this film already a fan of Pansy Division, so I guess there's some bias that way. Nevertheless, I think it's an entertaining film on its own, and is certainly essential viewing for anyone interested in queer music history. Pansy Division is a punk rock band, with clearly gay lyrics that can be understood by the average listener. They are to punk rock what Romanovksy and Phillips are to folk, and what JR is to hip-hop.
Things I liked:
* Seeing just how many drummers this band went through before finding one that worked long-term
* cameos by Green Day and Rob Halford
* covers the history of the group from inception to 2008
* lots of memorabilia shown for collectors to sigh over
Also there was a separate Live Bonus DVD (which technically isn't part of my review) which is an additional 113 minutes making it longer than the documentary it accompanies, and which provides a great opportunity to actually see the group perform 30 different songs (some more than once), for those of us who live in Pansy-neglected regions of the world, and includes some unique drummer-less performances. The only problem is the menu has some wacky navigation. I would rate that DVD a 7 out of 10.
Things that could be better (about the documentary):
* Most of the documentary was focused on the group's perspective, or their labels'. I would have liked to see more input from fans, more music reviewers, and those who didn't like the group for various reasons, to provide context.
* I would have liked to see more about the group members themselves. Who are these guys? I didn't really get that. Apparently they're all single, but they must still have families and friends of one sort or another. We should have seen more of that.
* It deserved to be a bit slicker. True, it was kind of a low-budget group back in the day, and you can't go back in time to get better video, but it could still have benefited from some extra flash.
I think this film fits in well with these others, all of which I also recommend:
* Anvil! The Story of Anvil (2008)
* Pete Seeger: The Power of Song (2007)
* 24 Hour Party People (2002)
* Joy Division (2007)
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