Play Your Gender shows how the music industry fails its women
It’s no secret that our society still has a very prevalent problem with sexism and one place to find this problem is within the music industry.
Women are constantly struggling with the inability to reach top positions in the music industry. It’s predominantly due to the fact that all these power positions are held by men. It’s been this way forever. Even now most of the top female pop stars’ careers are controlled financially and creatively by men. This is an issue that Stephanie Clattenburg and Kinnie Starr’s documentary Play Your Gender attempts to shed some light on.
There have been many films about this topic that it’s almost become commonplace in the film community for someone to make a movie about it every five years or so which means that films like Play Your Gender have to essentially find a new approach that is both thought-provoking and beneficial to the cause. Play Your Gender does this in some cases, but falls flat in others.
The film begins by throwing out the statistic that five percent of producers in the music industry are women. While this is probably true, there is no given source as to where this statistic came from. This then becomes a recurring theme with other statistics throughout the film.
I’m not arguing that these heinous and sexist statistics are not true, but quickly mentioning where they came from would provide context on the situation. In a documentary, and film in general, context is everything. The viewer has to understand where the framework for the whole film is coming from.
Play Your Gender is also somewhat dishonest. After offering the women producers statistic, we are led to believe that we will go on this journey around the world to find every female music producer. However, we are only introduced to one, and the film generally becomes about the female experience within in the music industry.
The documentary is hosted by Kinnie Starr, an alternative hip hop singer-songwriter who leads some pretty uninteresting interviews in the beginning. One of her go-to sources includes two 14-year-old girl musicians who have released their own material. This is impressive and the girls are talented, but their answers to Starr’s questions about women in the music scene might not be the representation needed. We are also plagued with close to 10 minutes of one-word answers.
Starr continues to interview various women and men within the music industry about the recurring gender gap. Though she interviews more than 20 artists, the most interesting insights come from Sara Quin of Tegan and Sara, Tamara Lindeman, a.k.a. The Weather Station, and Melissa Auf der Maur of The Smashing Pumpkins and Hole.
This film could have been so much more. While it does shed light on a very real problem, the only new aspect it offers is a statistic that is never given the time it deserves.
Tue., Mar. 6 (7 pm)
Play Your Gender