Moxie: A Genuine Feminist Tale, by Allison Haeger
Feel-good, purposeful, relevant, comedic, coming-of-age—these all describe Amy Poehler's Moxie. Adapted from Jennifer Mathieu’s novel of the same name, the drama premiered on Netflix March 3, 2021.
Moxie is a feminist comedic drama that follows Vivian Carter’s discovery of activism. After she realizes the inconsistencies in her school's treatment of white men vs everyone else, Vivian crafts an anonymous zine calling out the double standards.
The zine sponsors a conversation between the feminists of the school who band together to form Moxie, a club addressing the blatant sexism, racism, homophobia, transphobia, and general hypocrisy the school supports. Vivian continues to anonymously distribute zines throughout school; it feels like their existence supports the efforts of the club, just as their existence inspired the club.
There are a handful of reasons as to why Moxie feels like such an awakening success of a film. The movie portrays a realistic feminist coming-of-age story in which the main protagonist doesn’t understand the intersectionality of her school, the world, and feminism at first. Instead, viewers get to see Vivian’s feminist education and understanding grow just as it would in the real world.
Because Vivian’s story is so realistic, she isn’t the perfect leader in the film, which is part of why the story is so important. At first, Vivian doesn’t understand the dangerous racial tension between the school jock and her soon-to-be new friend. When she observes the school jock, Mitchell, trying to intimidate and scare the new BIPOC student, Lucy, Vivian excuses the behavior as annoying and harmless. Lucy then calls Vivian out on her ignorance and initiates Vivian’s reflection.
A lot of feminist-themed films portray a main activist with their shit together, but that isn’t real life. Moxie moves away from that romanticism by showcasing Vivian’s flaws and her growth. A real-life representation of feminism like Moxie is essential to spread the movement around and make viewers feel like their involvement is attainable and has an impact.
Moxie covers numerous aspects of intersectional feminism with complete grace. The film addresses the model-minority stereotype Asian-Americans face, how dress codes affect education and the sexualization of women, microaggressions and their development into bigger problems, and so much more. The movie even spends time to digest how involvement in activism is difficult for some people, even if their heart is in it.
Don’t worry, there’s indeed a romantic subplot to the film. The romance is great in context because the focus of it isn’t on their relationship. Instead, Moxie uses Vivian’s relationship with her boyfriend to demonstrate how a straight man can stand side-by-side with their partner in activism.
Next time I need something to make me feel good, feel understood, and feel empowered, Moxie is my go-to.