Even after being a place where you spend a great portion of your life, schools often fail at inculcating the right values in their rule books. Besides having a flawed education system, their way of treating students sometimes gets so miserable that it leaves a mark on their memory. Saying sexist things out loud in the open and having the courtesy to pull out weird rules, schools have secured a very high place at promoting these activities. If we try remembering our own school days, especially as teenage girls, we can recollect some incidents that felt way out of limits. Pulling out girls from their classes and telling them that their hairstyle or the length of their skirts might provoke the interests in boys in them literally is the most relatable thing for every girl ever.
Sometimes, only girls are taken out for a separate seminar where they are told, how their everyday habits or some part of their social conduct can actually be very distracting for boys. So why aren’t boys pulled out of classes and warned to be within their limits? The upcoming Netflix film titled Moxie is a similar story about a bunch of rebellious teenage girls, who are fed up with sexism in their school.
Moxie is a digital adaptation of Jennifer Mathieu’s novel that was published in 2015 under the same name. As the trailer begins, we’re introduced to a shy 16-year-old socially conscious teenage girl Vivian and her rebellious and outgoing mother, Lisa. She asks her mother “what does an average 16-year-old care about?”. To which Lisa gives her own example, stating that when she was of her age, she just cared about smashing the patriarchy and burning it all down. Vivian then comes across an old metal trunk that makes her live Lisa’s student life as a rebellious girl, who kept her heads up no matter what and constituted a revolution.
Vivian is extremely shy and awkward when it comes to socially interact and being actually noticed at school. Her school is a place that practices sexism blatantly, and she feels that the more she stays out of sight, the more it’s better for her. The boys of the school football team, led by the sexist football star Mitchell, have a ritual of listing the hottest girls at school. Vivian, the painfully shy girl, keeps her head down at all costs and avoids being under any radar of attention. But things change for her when a new girl at her school, Alycia, gets harassed by Mitchell and refuses to back down.
She goes in to speak to her coordinator about the kind of behavior she has faced. Her coordinator labels it as being bothered, just to avoid getting into any fuss. But when Alycia makes it clear that she has been harassed by Mitchell, she blows it off as if it’s only about some paperwork and not a serious issue. Alycia gets face to face with Vivian in a school hallway and tells her that this school is weird. Vivian advices her to keep her head down and ignore any such behavior coming from people, because she feels, once they get ignored, the boys will stop bothering her and catch hold of someone else. Alycia clearly didn’t like her ideology of surviving in high school and says that she’ll better keep her head up. Instead, she’ll keep it high.
Encountering similar incidents of sexism and prejudice in her school, it gets hard for Vivian to keep everything that goes around her and is considered normal. She begins questioning the quality of thinking and how nobody cares about all the things girls have to go through. But Vivian has gone to her mother’s back. She talks to Lisa and begins knowing about how she tackled it all. Lisa lets her know how she and her group of friends protested against every unfair deed and action that were thrown at them. She accepts that she has made a lot of mistakes, but to date, she has literally zero regrets about it. Getting it all in her head, Vivian soon starts getting inspired by her mom’s words and her past. She begins reassessing her priorities and her ignorant outlook after she gets to know that her mother was a part of an underground feminist punk movement riot grrrl in the 1990s.
“I’m excited to get to work with my friend again.”
— The Edit (@bbctheedit) February 27, 2021
Taking a leaf out of Lisa’s book, Vivian creates a zine titled Moxie, that calls out sexism in the community and her school, and secretly distributes it to her peers. In the trailer, we see the students agreeing to whatever comes printed in the zine because they, at some point, have been through it all. One girl at Vivian’s school speaks out about how messed up the school is. She was once sent back home for wearing a tank top to school, meanwhile, a boy named Jason keeps on roaming shirtless in school, and no one bothers to reprimand him. Soon, views and stories begin pouring in on how people refuse to refer a girl by her actual name and how the other girl isn’t comfortable by getting her name being added to the hot girls’ list where boys give inappropriate tags to her. Vivian’s movement soon begins sparking campaigns and protests and eventually turns into a full-blown revolution.
The girls soon vent out their idea it says people to draw stars and hearts on their hand, in order to show. Tremendous support soon begins pouring in where people start drawing symbols as a sign to show their support to the revolutionary magazine. Not only girls but some boys from school too come in support of the rebellious move that aims at getting past prejudice. The revolution that makes all the girls at school stand tall soon become a cause of concern for the school fraternity. We see the coordinator and the teachers being uncomfortable when they try slamming sexism in the faces of the students but, in return have to face criticism because the girls are now in no mood to tolerate anything rubbish.
What To Look Forward To?
Speaking about her upcoming film, actor-director Amy Poehler said that Moxie was developed in-house. Kim Lessing and Paper Kite visited her one day and asked her to read the novel Moxie. When she finished reading the entire book, she felt it might really be a great digital adaptation. So her team developed it with Jennifer and welcomed Tamara Chestna and Dylan Meyer on board to write the script. Amy feels that the character Vivian goes through an enormous amount of change in the entire stretch of the film.
The Vivian at the beginning of the movie and the one that she becomes by the end are in total contradiction. She evolves as she keeps observing everyone else around her. There is an intense portion of internal turmoil that she has to express, and fortunately, the leading lady Hadley is truly incredible at that. Amy feels that her reel daughter was very curious and tender and can do so much when she is listening. Hadley, speaking about her character, says that Vivian has got the superpower to absorb information. She initially sat down with Kim Lessing and spoke to her about all the issues that the script raised. Initially, when she had to walk in for auditions, she was nervous. But the moment she stepped in, it felt like home to her. And at that moment, she knew that she really wants to collaborate with Amy.
Moxie: Cast and Production
Directed by Amy Poehler, the film stars Hadley Robinson as Vivian Carter in a lead role alongside Josephine Langford as Emma Cunningham, Lauren Tsai as Claudia, Patrick Schwarzenegger as Mitchell Wilson, Amy Poehler as Lisa Carter, Ike Barinholtz as Mr. Davies, Marcia Gay Harden as Principal Marlene Shelly, Clark Gregg as John, Sydney Park as Kiera Pascal, Nico Hiraga as Seth Acosta, Alycia Pascual-Peña as Lucy Hernandez, Anjelika Washington as Amaya, Joshua Walker as Jason. Josie Totah as CJ, Sabrina Haskett as Kaitlynn Price, Charlie Hall as Bradley, and various others in prominent roles. Moxie will release on Netflix on 3 March 2021.