First pics from “Whip It”

Photo credit: USA Today

Photo credit: USA Today

Yes, folks, there is a roller derby movie coming out.You can read about it and see pics here and here. The only thing I can say about the pics so far is: 1) interesting that all the skaters are wearing the same Riedell boot; and 2) there seems to be a dearth of blocker booty. How about a little body diversity? I really hope the movie shows that derby is for women of all shapes and sizes, not just Hollywood figures.

Based on the novel Derby Girl by Shauna Cross, the film is helmed by Drew Barrymore and stars Ellen Page (aka Juno, or, if you’re on my couch, Kitty Pryde). Marcia Gay Harden, Kristin Wiig, Eve, Jimmy Fallon, and batshit-crazy Juliette Lewis round out the cast. I get the impression that the movie isn’t exactly about roller derby; rather, derby is the vehicle by which the main character achieves rebellion, liberty, and cycles through the typical coming-of-age movie cliches. Thus, we can probably expect too much plot and drama and not enough killer derby action. (Of course, this is the opinion of someone who counts Die Hard among her favorite films and cleared her calendar for Terminator: Salvation.) I want to trust Ellen Page and Marcia Gay Harden as they typically make good role choices, and I admit I rather like Drew Barrymore, but having skimmed the book I know they’re not working from Dostoyevsky or even John Grisham, so any script would need a lot of work.

On the media impact side, I have mixed emotions about Whip It. Of course it’s great to get more attention to the sport, but then you’re also faced with the poseur element when hip things go mainstream. As derby girls, we must be prepared to deal with the publicity and subsequent interest this movie is going to trigger. More fans? Yay! More recruits? Good, but… I love to get new recruits with heart  out on the track, but as with any suddenly-fashionable realm, there will be an inevitable rush of wannabes who Just Want to Look Cool, who will have obnoxious ‘tudes, show up with a skater name already picked out and a ton of money dropped on the cutest getups, and only half-ass it when it comes to actually skating. I mean, how many of you have had one of your favorite bands hit big, and then all of a sudden the show is packed full of bobbleheads who sit around the whole time waiting for the single to be played so that they can scream along with the chorus (of course they can’t even be bothered to learn the lyrics to the verses)–? Sure, you want to be happy for your band’s success, glad to see them rewarded for their talents, but you still feel violated–like something that was precious and yours is now being dirtied and diluted. The specific problem with roller derby is that it is a DIY creation, and the wannabes can add more weight to the wagon without ever helping pull.

But, maybe the best thing to do for now is kwitmybitchin’ and be happy that roller derby is finally getting the attention it deserves. It’s progress to see women’s sports getting the same attention as men’s. And, we will definitely be happy to see the newly curious rinkside at our remaining bouts this year. But hey–no need to wait for the movie. Come see the real thing this August 8th at San Jose Skate!



Filed under Roller Derby

2 responses to “First pics from “Whip It”

  1. I’ve actually had a very similar mix of emotions about “Whip It!” but I really do think that the movie, if done right, has the potential to do more good than harm for derby. I actually wrote about it over on my Livejournal (post link:, so I won’t recap it heavily here.

    I certainly understand the worries about the poseur factor. I’ve seen this happen with other things that I’ve loved, too. I think it’s worth note, though, that this film is going to be marketed more to the indie film crowd than to those who go in for blockbusters, and that itself might prove a moderating influence. It’s quite similar to how many people reconnected with derby through the “Rollergirls” documentary series but this didn’t cause a wave of poseurs. It was on A&E, not MTV. I’m hoping something similar happens again here.

    • retoxfox

      Oops, that was a scheduled post that popped out before I finished it–I wanted to end on a more optimistic note (as now seen). I guess we will just have to hold our breath (and let’s hope not our nose afterwards)…

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