Who Took the Bomp? Le
Tigre On Tour, the musical documentary recently issued by Oscilloscope
Laboratories, is the sound – and sight – of victory. Watch clips, below.
By Selena Fragassi
At the opening of Who
Took the Bomp? Le Tigre On Tour, keyboardist/vocalist JD Samson is seen
launching a toy missile rocket into the clear blue sky above a deadpan street –
one of many the band traversed in 2004 when they collected the meat of the
footage that makes up this long-awaited tour DVD.
Although the band (in addition to Samson, singer Kathleen
Hanna and guitarist Johanna Fateman) does toy around for much of film (see
pranks on Slipknot at Australia’s Big Day Out Festival and an irreverent take
on ‘80s workout infomercials), it is the explosive revelations about sexuality
and gender oppression that really launch this intimate documentary.
When it debuted earlier this year at the annual South by
Southwest Festival, seven years had passed since the trio had asked their
friend and lighting director Carmine to film them as they crisscrossed four
continents and seven countries in support of the release of This Island -y et much of the same
issues they had grappled with at the time (and even earlier in the dawn of the
riot grrrl movement Hanna pioneered with band Bikini Kill) are still very much
“People are so threatened by women in bands,” comments
Hanna, noting how female musicians and bands are more harshly criticized than
their male peers. “We want to counter this notion of women being nice all the
time or making everyone comfortable.”
In one scene, Le Tigre is positioned in an Australia radio
station for a quick press jaunt, and much to the band’s dismay, all the host
could focus on was the ladies’ body art and the yawning topic of how Hanna
tipped off Kurt Cobain to the “Smells Like Teen Spirit” song name. Gone were the
hard-pressed questions about artistry or accomplishments that male counterparts
would be privy to.
In another scene, Fateman and Samson are filmed in a cab and
discussing their labored decision of whether or not to accept a free full-page
ad in now-defunct Jane magazine even
though their revision to add the word “lesbian” was shot down due to
conservative ad buyers. “That just really hurts my feelings,” laments Samson
(who Fateman refers to as the secret Justin Timberlake of the band for her
inherent desirability by all kinds). The women eventually turn down the offer.
If the reels of confessional interviews, constantly changing
hotel scenery, plane rides, and concert footage weren’t exhausting enough, the
old-fashioned oppression Samson, Hanna and Fateman have to deal with is surely
the downer of this film.
Yet the women are able to take it all in stride – and the
true pleasure of the film is the testimonials by legions of devoted fans that
the filmmaker finds on each stop of the tour.
“I’m not trying to be a role model but the person I wish
would have been there for me,” says Hanna in the film, yet that is the role
that many have blessed her with after witnessing her mission of letting
creativity trump cruelty and allowing a message to override materialism. As we
see Le Tigre get ready for a new performance, they let the newness of the
experience wash over them with a pre-ritual chant “Feminist! Lesbian! Vagina!”
before skipping out on stage in their matching spandex outfits to the wash of
cheers from the crowd.
If that isn’t victory, I don’t know what is.