Director Amy Poehler brings us Moxie, an intersectional feminist scream making its voice heard in the midst of a raging #MeToo movement. It strives to inspire the next generation of feminists with ’90s Riot Grrrl roots.
mox·ie, n. 1. The ability to face difficulty with spirit and courage.
2. Aggressive energy; initiative:
Based on the novel by Jennifer Mathieu, who has a cameo as the chemistry teacher, Moxie showcases intersectional feminism in a coming of age story that makes you want to raise your fist in the air and yell, “Screw the patriarchy!”
Moxie Parent Guide
Moxie is rated PG-13, but there are some topics that parents should be mindful of in the film. The movie is set in high school, and Vivian’s lead character is 16 (a Junior). I’m going to start with the most significant mention in the film that I want parents to be prepared for because it can be triggering to some women (myself included).
Rape – Moxie is more than a movement about equality within the dress code. It also shines a light on issues that too many have faced from people that claimed they cared about them. It serves as a crucial moment in the film when a victim’s voice becomes the breaking point of the movement.
Underage Drinking – There is a raging high school party that includes alcohol consumption. Another scene includes Vivian drinking a bottle of champagne by herself and coming home drunk, where she argues with her mother.
Sexual Consent – Can we all give a standing ovation to a film that opens the door to sexual consent in a relationship!? While the topic of rape is a painful one, having characters that discuss consent on screen is a big deal. We are teaching the new generation what consent looks like in a healthy relationship.
Heavy Groping – In the same scene with sexual consent, there is some heating making out and groping between the couple.
Vandalism/Theft – Some defacing and theft of school property take place during the movement.
Intersectional Feminisim – The women’s movement in Moxie sheds light on equality for women and the intersectional areas like race, culture, disability, gender, and sexual orientation. This is a diverse cast that comes together to bridge gaps within the movement, and they tackle it head-on with a white privilege check.
Language – Moxie gets to avoid an R rating by only used the word F*ck once in the film.
In the movie, Amy Poehler’s character Lisa (Vivian’s mother) says that when she was younger, she and her activist friends made “a ton of mistakes” — including that they weren’t intersectional enough. How have you approached making a movie about feminism that’s intersectional?
AMY POEHLER: I’m well aware that I am coming at this story from a certain perspective, and there are so many ways to come at it. What we tried to do is recognize that when you achieve progress and growth, you also have to acknowledge the mistakes you might have made getting there. And one of the things I think that ‘90s feminism, especially the Gen X Riot Grrrl brand of feminism, could have done better was to more actively include women of color. Young feminists today understand that there is no one voice or one face or one take on women’s rights and that in order to make change and to have real conversation, you have to have all different voices in that conversation.
Fun facts about Moxie
Vivian’s room has butterflies worked into the design, symbolizing the deconstruction of how she sees the world and eventual transformation throughout the film. In the final dance party scene, all the girls are dressed to show their inner life and spirit. Olivia Newton-John’s iconic final look inspired Vivian’s outfit in GREASE, and her iridescent wings symbolize the idea that she’s a butterfly finally coming out of her cocoon.
Lisa and Vivian’s house is full of fun details and easter eggs. Lisa’s den has Western outlaw wallpaper to symbolize her rebellious past, a degree from Evergreen State College — the university in Washington where the Riot Grrrl Movement developed — and Magill chose seahorse wallpaper for their bathroom because male seahorses partake equally in the reproductive process.
During the filming of the large group scenes, Poehler had some groups — including STAND-L.A., Sunrise Movement LA, and Extinction Rebellion LA — come set up and give out literature to inspire the cast.
The author, Jennifer Mathieu, is still a high school English teacher and sponsors the Feminist Club at the school where she currently teaches.
Vivian (Hadley Robinson), a seemingly shy 16-year-old, has always preferred to keep her head down and fly under the radar. But when the arrival of a new student (Alycia Pascual-Peña) forces her to examine the unchecked behavior of her fellow students running rampant at her high school, Vivian realizes she’s fed up. Inspired by her mother’s (Amy Poehler) rebellious past, Vivian anonymously publishes an underground zine called Moxie to expose bias and wrongdoing in her high school and unexpectedly sparks a movement. Now at the center of a revolution, Vivian begins to forge new friendships with other young women and allies, reaching across the divide of cliques and clubs as they learn to navigate the highs and lows of high school together. Directed by Amy Poehler and based on the novel by Jennifer Mathieu, MOXIE also stars Lauren Tsai, Patrick Schwarzenegger, Nico Hiraga, Sydney Park, Josephine Langford, Clark Gregg, Josie Totah, Anjelika Washington, Charlie Hall, and Sabrina Haskett, with Ike Barinholtz and Marcia Gay Harden.
Moxie is streaming on Netflix on March 3rd.