DMovies - Your platform for thought-provoking cinema

Bad Reputation

Rockumentary digs down into the life of Joan Jett; it reveals the dirty facets of the rock'n roll pioneer, best known for her recording of I Love Rock'N Roll - in cinemas Friday, October 26th

Do you know what it feels like for a rock’n roll girl? Joan Jett started her career in the 1970s, when rock’n roll was virtually all male territory. The bad reputation associated with the movement was perceived as masculine and virile. Man’s business. Definitely not girly stuff. Even those who embraced femininity – David Bowie, Mark Bolan and other glam artists – happened to be male.

Joan Jett describes herself as a feminist, and she’s a founding member of the all-female American teenage rock band the Runaways. Bad Reputation follows Joan from her early days as she challenged the notion that “girls don’t play rock’n roll”, all the way to the present, as the 60-year-old artist collects awards and widespread recognition for a very distinctive career.

The early days where tough. She was spat on, her head cracked open and rib broken for being a female punk rocker. Misogynous criticism was heaped in every corner of the US and Europe where the rock band travelled. They only made it big for the wrong reasons: when they were arrested for disorderly conduct. Iggy Pop thinks that Joan and the Runaways weren’t entirely on their own “there were a lot of women who didn’t want to be like Joni Mitchell. They wanted to rock”. Despite the turbulent years (or perhaps because of it?), Joan is described as a “time-traveller”. She is now considered a woman ahead of her time, and thereby compared to David Bowie.

The documentary blends archive footage with talking heads interviews with Joan and various associates. Iggy Pop and a Debbie Harry with sunglasses permanently attached to her face talk about the significance of the Pennsylvania-born artist. The depravity of the LA’s colourful club scene in the 1970s, which is featured in the beginning of the movie, helped to create the Joan we know. Lisa Minelli’s Camp performance in Cabaret (Bob Fosse, 1972) also had a massive influence on the female rocker, we also learn. At a defining moment of documentary, Joan explains why she shunned motherhood in favour of a “deviant” lifestyle, thereby defining the subversive essence of punk rock itself.

Other highlights of the movie include how Joan Jett survived the “bubblegum music” years, how the recording of I Love Rock’n Roll catapulted her into the mainstream, her relation to Bikini Kill and the Riot Grrrl Movement and much more. All in all, an enjoyable ride through the life of a woman who dodged labels and preconceptions both within and outside the rock world in favour of her individuality.

Bad Reputation is out in cinemas across the UK on Friday, October 26th.

By Victor Fraga - 23-10-2018

Victor Fraga is a Brazilian born and London-based journalist and filmmaker with more than 20 years of involvement in the cinema industry and beyond. He is an LGBT writer, and describes himself as a di...

DMovies Poll

Are the Oscars dirty enough for DMovies?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

Most Read

Forget Friday the 13th, Paranormal Activity and the [Read More...]
Just a few years back, finding a film [Read More...]
A lot of British people would rather forget [Read More...]
Sexual diversity is at the very heart of [Read More...]
Pigs might fly. And so Brexit might happen. [Read More...]
Films quotes are very powerful not just because [Read More...]

Read More

The top 10 rock’n roll docs of all times


DMovies team - 30-10-2016

As he prepares for the latest edition of the Doc'n Roll Film Festival - possibly the UK's largest hybrid feast of cinema and music -, the event's founder and director Colm Forde shares with us his list of the 10 most impressive rock'n roll documentaries ever! [Read More...]

SHOT! The Psycho-Spiritual Mantra of Rock

Barnaby Clay

Victor Fraga - 12-07-2017

It's only Mick Rock but I like it!!! Legendary photographer "who shot the 1970s" captures the very essence of rock'n roll in a career spanning nearly four decades - in equally impressive doc out now on YouTube [Read More...]

Gimme Danger

Jim Jarmusch

Maysa Monção - 15-11-2016

Deliciously dangerous pop: Jim Jarmusch's film about Iggy Pop and the Stooges is far more than your average rockumentary; it's an ingenious, dirty and loud tribute to the artists who sum up the very essence of rock'n roll - out in cinemas on Friday [Read More...]