“Moxie”: Progressive or Performative?


Maeve Ridings, Staff Writer

My expectations for the film “Moxie” were high based on my love for the book and Amy Poehler’s involvement. However, I was incredibly disappointed, and unfortunately Netflix seems to have missed the mark yet again. “Moxie” is the story of a young adult who is inspired by her mother’s rebellious past and decides to begin producing an anonymous zine calling out the sexism at her high school.

While I absolutely loved the empowering narrative stating that every young women is qualified to speak up and be a feminist, the rest of the movie did not land the way it was intending to.  Young women too often face barriers that prevent them from feeling like they can be their authentic self or feel qualified to speak up about the things around them, things like imposter syndrome, feminist gatekeeping, and so many more.  So, having a narrative that details a young women who is claiming her power and speaking up about issues that she sees but also uses tokenism and buys into the idea that it is acceptable for people who consider themselves feminist to put others down is incredibly damaging.  Some of the specific scenes in the movie that this is prevalent are with Vivian’s boyfriend, the mascot character, Claudia’s lack of development about how the model minority myth has affected her, and the incredibly underdeveloped relationship between Lucy and Kiera.

Specifically talking about the tokenism within the movie, I find it incredibly offensive when a movie’s core message is somehow contradictory to what the movie is actually portraying. This was very apparent in many aspects of the film.  Beyond the pointless and underdeveloped relationship between Lucy and soccer girl and the very random and isolated mentions of race and culture, the movie continue to perpetuate what I refer to as “the checkbox character list” where many characters are merely a token character with no depth and no follow up to the how the events of the movie impact their lives. Claudia is an example of this.  

Further discussing Claudia’s character, I take issue with how the movie had her react to Vivian’s actions.  I also take large issues with her one line of dialogue about Vivian’s actions.  Her statement “it’s because you’re white” not only is completely ignoring the complexities of intersectional feminism, but also honestly seems unrealistic to me.  In no way am I saying that white people are able to know the experience of people of color, but considering Claudia and Vivian are supposed to be friends since they were children, I find it unreasonable to think that Vivian would be absolutely oblivious to Claudia’s life.  Not only that, but the movie tries to show that Vivian does understand aspects of Claudia’s life based on her interaction with Lucy prior to the window scene where she was incredibly concerned about the ramifications her friend would face at home.  This contradictory behavior is incredibly frustrating to me, and seems to serve only as a place for Claudia to further highlight how the model minority myth has affected her, a plot line in the story that would have been interesting had it not been so underdeveloped. 

Additionally, I had an issue with the ending of the movie.  Any movie that uses rape as the climax of the movie without addressing any of the ramifications of sexual assault bastardizes not only the movement of me too as a whole but also contributes to the societal pressures towards women to either be silent or be entirely comfortable sharing their story with every corner of the world. Not only did the movie not address any of the issues that would have come from being raped, it set a standard that people who talk about rape must do so in front of a large audience while in reality, that is very often not what happens.  It also uses that to be the tipping point where the school starts to enact consequences against Mitchell while, again, in reality that is not what usually happens. This frustrates more on multiple levels, and portrays an ideal that is not concurrent with reality and leaves both an expectation that is rarely fulfilled and an ending that is entirely out of character with the rest of the themes of the movie.