LGBT Film Fest preview

Le Tigre On Tour

By - Oct 23rd, 2010 04:00 am
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Le Tigre On Tour follows the band on their 2004 year-long world tour in support of This Island, the group’s third album that was released on Universal the same year, and to lukewarm reception. In fact, one of the major feats of this film is garnering new interest in this album.

From New Zealand to Indianapolis to Japan, the doc follows the group as they travel from show to show, continent to continent. The film mixes the lackadaisical moments of band life with goofy asides and interviews by the filmmakers (Kerthy Fix and Carmine Covelli) and assorted overseas press junkets.

Not surprisingly, the film reveals the ease and rich sense of humor among the bandmates. At some times silly and other times dry, the humor of Le Tigre gets them through the grind of touring and the issues that confront the vocal pro-woman, pro-queer group in a rock and roll world still mostly dominated by men.

At one point in the film, Le Tigre’s main beat-maker Johanna Fateman asks the question: “Is this cool, or is this embarrassing?” She’s referring to the band’s exuberant live show (which features youthful choreography and matching outfits channeling a kind of gender-bending, fuzzed-out, pumped-up appropriation of various 1960s R&B hit-makers), but the same question can be asked of feminism.

With such antithetical characters as Sarah Palin and Christine O’Donnell currently branding themselves as “feminists,” the word seems to have hit its hardest bottom. The right-wing demonization of the word has been leaking into the public consciousness for some time, and now conservatives have twisted the term into a forced numb submission.

The feminism that Le Tigre espouses, rooted in the longtime activism of Kathleen Hanna as well as Fateman and queer activist JD Samson, is the truer meaning of the word that needs to be rescued by the people who have loved and defined it. Le Tigre is an integral part of keeping such truthfulness intact.

The timeliness of Le Tigre’s feminist, pro-queer message is most prominent in the film when they are confronted with homophobia and sexism on the road. One particular interviewer questions Kathleen about her friendship with Kurt Cobain rather than her own many, many accomplishments after awkwardly inquiring about a tattoo on Fateman’s neck. Here, the interview revolves around (1) appearance, and (2) the band member’s connection to more powerful men in the rock scene.

Additionally, the group wrestles with staying true to their politics amid increasing media coverage. They question their participation in a Jane magazine (now defunct) ad campaign that refuses to use the word “lesbian” in the description of the band.

Throughout the film, their thoughtfulness of being themselves — whether or not that includes being nice or accommodating — is admirable.

The film features live footage of about a dozen tracks performed across the world and does a good job of capturing the colorful, riotous energy of Le Tigre’s live show. They are experts at mixing fun with protest and making what can be considered “simple” very powerful. The freedom of their performance and their straightforward words challenge the status quo of female experience.

They make public the pain of sexual/gender inequality and incite the tenacity in their audience to overcome it.

Le Tigre: On Tour screens tonight at the UWM Union Theatre, 2200 E. Kenwood Blvd (2nd Floor) at 11 p.m. For more information, click here.

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