Amy Poehler’s Moxie is an impeccable homage to the riot grrrls of the ’90s and features numerous Easter eggs that highlight the importance of the women-led feminist punk movement. From Bikini Kill to Tacocat, the film is filled with iconic tracks, images and merch that defined an era of revolution.
Moxie follows Vivian (Hadley Robinson) as she develops a feminist fanzine to combat the misogyny in her high school as well as the patriarchal structures that function to oppress women of all ages. Her mother, Lisa (Poehler), experienced the rise of the riot grrrl revolution, even singing the iconic Bikini Kill track “Rebel Girl” to her daughter during her childhood.
As the women of Moxie start a revolution, they’re met with disapproval, oppressive authorities and the cruelty of century-old stigma. But Vivian, alongside her closest friends, proves that the riot grrrl movement is alive and well in the 2020s and that the fight for gender equity is far from over.
The film is filled with references to the feminist punk movement, but we’ve carefully combed through every scene to ensure that you don’t miss a second of riot grrrl greatness in Poehler’s Netflix film Moxie.
As Vivian attempts to write a college essay, Tacocat’s “Grains Of Salt” plays in the background. The contemporary feminist punk band hail from Seattle, Washington, and have been featured in other Netflix original programs such as Big Mouth.
After Lucy (Alycia Pascual-Peña) transfers to Rockport, she’s met with the dangerous misogyny of Mitchell (Patrick Schwarzenegger), as he speaks over her in class and asserts that her opinions are inherently wrong. Fueled by frustration, Vivian heads home to ask her mother about a song she vaguely remembers from childhood—Bikini Kill’s “Rebel Girl.”
Moments later, Vivian becomes the rebel girl featured in the song. She enters her mother’s study, where a Bikini Kill poster hangs next to a wardrobe that contains a leather jacket featuring a Patti Smith pin. As the line “I wanna try on your clothes” plays, Vivian puts on the jacket and opens her mother’s suitcase full of riot grrrl keepsakes.
It’s covered in stickers from bands of the era, such as L7, Tribe 8, Bikini Kill, the Frumpies and Mazzy Star, as well as one for the feminist music festival Ladyfest and another in support of Anita Hill. As Vivian opens the suitcase, she discovers a Bikini Kill VHS, the riot grrrl manifesto, various fanzines and Poehler Photoshopped into a picture of Bikini Kill, where her character replaces Kathleen Hanna, the iconic frontwoman of the band. There’s a box filled with cassette tapes, which features a Le Tigre sticker on the side, and several photographs from live riot grrrl performances. It’s truly a treasure trove of feminist punk memorabilia from the ’90s.
In her zine, Vivian requests that supporters of Moxie draw hearts and stars on their hands. This mirrors the riot grrrl manifesto that Bikini Kill included in their own zine. It pays homage to their statement while making a new one.
With the success and support of Moxie, Vivian creates the second issue as Bikini Kill’s “Double Dare Ya” plays in the background. This time, she includes the title “Rebel Girl” and posits the question, “But what about my reputation?” Her inquiry may be in reference to the iconic Joan Jett song “Bad Reputation” about a young woman who chooses to live freely despite societal pressures.
In recent years, riot grrrl has broadened as a definition for artists and musicians. Today, it encompasses Afropunk artists as well, including Tierra Whack, whose song “Pretty Ugly” plays as Vivian and Lucy shop for tank tops to protest the school’s sexist policies.
When Vivian falls for Seth (Nico Hiraga), he takes her on an adorable date to a funeral home, where the two lay in a casket and listen to Bikini Kill’s “Rebel Girl” side by side.
After he drops her off at home, her mother greets her at the door wearing a Sleater-Kinney shirt with a classic cat design above their name. The band are famously known for their song “Modern Girl.” Lisa’s shirt recognizes the band while also highlighting the location where the events of Moxie take place. It’s set in the Pacific Northwest—more specifically, Oregon. They are in close proximity to Olympia, Washington, where the riot grrrl movement notably began as well as being the home of Sleater-Kinney.
In celebration of their efforts, the women of Moxie throw their own DIY concert, with the Linda Lindas covering “Rebel Girl” and “Big Mouth” by the Muffs, but not before Lucy yells “Girls to the front” as a nod to the riot grrrl scene.
There are numerous scenes that feature Vivian’s room. When it’s first shown, there aren’t any riot grrrl posters on the walls. As she delves further into women-led punk, though, more start to appear. Most blatantly, a Bikini Kill poster hangs by her window.
Even though Lisa inspired her daughter’s feminist punk ethos, that doesn’t make her immune to the harshness of teen insults. In an unforgettable confrontation in the middle of dinner, Vivian condescendingly tells her mother, “You’re such a rebel girl.”
In the film’s final moments, Ebony Bones’ “W.A.R.R.I.O.R.” serves as an anthem for the massive school protest. While it isn’t technically considered a riot grrrl song, it’s transformed by Moxie into one, as it showcases how important it is to be a warrior and a woman revolutionary.
The entirety of the film details the injustices that young women face and the ways that the patriarchy functions to oppress women and minorities. It draws attention to the fact that the fight for equity isn’t over, nor did it end when the riot grrrl movement supposedly concluded. In fact, it lives on as younger generations discover bands such as Bikini Kill, Tribe 8 and Sleater-Kinney. Riot grrrls, are everywhere and the number of musicians who fall under that category continue to rise. Moxie doesn’t just pay homage to the ’90s feminist punk movement—it also functions as validation for the riot grrrls of the past, present and future who challenge the patriarchy through music, zines and organizing.