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!