Ope! reviews Amy Poehler’s “Moxie” on Netflix

Ope! reviews Amy Poehler’s “Moxie” on Netflix

Out of our own Ope! curiosity, Roxanne and I watched the movie Moxie yesterday, a movie about feminism and zines, directed by Amy Poehler and currently on Netflix.

How’s that for a sentence rife with relativity?

The movie is not an earth-shattering film of epiphanic proportions, but it’s sweet, funny, problematic, sometimes over-reaching and sometimes selling itself short; basically, it’s a teenage girl, which is fitting, since the movie is set in an imagined Pacific Northwest high school. The school has glaring issues of pubescent Patriarchy, and these issues are triggered anew with the arrival of a “hot” new girl who takes issue with the school’s ability to be woke or not to be woke. Her point of view awakens the suppressed emotions of the movie’s main character, and one night, in a spark of rage-fueled creativity, she creates a zine from her mom’s old zines, while listening to the punk stylings of Bikini Kills (an actual 90s punk band from Olympia, Washington, an all-girl group who sparked the riot grrrl movement and, yes, published zines). And so a feminist revolution takes hold of the school, in all the messy clunky chaotic ways that creative anger and confrontation manifests.

Obviously, Roxanne and I have slipped past the youthful righteousness of the main characters, and our zines don’t have the same bold, urgent, and angry beauty of American girls. Regardless, there’s absolute delight in watching a whole movie about the space that exists around art and modern American girl power: the power of self-expression and the contagious energy that spills forth when you take risks. The power of letting go of what others want/expect and taking ownership of what you want. And the power of accepting all the messy imperfections that come with that goal.

Now, I’m going to give away a small bit of the movie here, so if you’re gonna watch, go watch, and then come back and read this.

The movie opens with the main character running through a forest with the implication that she’s being chased. It gets to a point where she stops and screams, but her scream is silent; she has no voice. At this moment, she wakes up, and the movie “begins”. Fast forward to the climax of the film and this scene is cut to again, ever so briefly, except her scream is full and loud and real. And while this moment isn’t overwrought in the film, it’s a cinematic representation of the whole damn point: women want to be heard.

And acknowledged, challenged, represented, and respected. Is there more? Yes, of course.
So we at Ope! clink our glasses and tip our hats to Amy Poehler. Good story, woman. And cheers to More.

Thoughts on 2020

Thoughts on 2020

With 2020 coming to a close, I’ve gotten retrospective about this first year of Ope!, about the eight zines we put out (7.5 is more accurate, because one is very wee, but I’m rounding up). I’ve been writing without an audience for a long time, under the wavering theory that someday it would come to make sense, simply because I meant it. And while it is still a crazy mix of sense and nonsense, this year has been an incredible shift in what it means for me to make literary art.

As someone who is also a mad hatter for music—these zines are the closest I’ve come to understanding what it means to create a song. Because when I look back on the collective whole of these eight zines, it’s like Ope!’s first album, these eight separate and tangible entities that tell a story and paint a scene with each turn of the handstitched page. But when you put them all together, bumping shoulders and shuffling feet, they become something more. A whole narrative of ideas and visions and thoughts and words from people living in this Midwestern place, on either side of the Mississippi River. Everything about these zines comes from right here, now. Prisoners in Minnesota, artists in La Crosse, writers out in the Wisconsin bluffs. In basements, in barns, in cluttered apartments, in prison cells—people who need to create as part of their experience of being human. It’s not just me, writing to myself. It’s a whole, wild cacophony of effort.

And when we finally get all the pieces in place—the rounds of edits and the arguing over word choice and the need to italicize something and which color and where the images all fit—we give it over to the printer man down on 3rd Street, and for a few days, we hold our breath. Then it’s usually Roxanne who goes to pick up the boxes, sweating on the details, and then, THEN, if all systems are go, we find a day or two to sit down in her living room and collate pages. Fold pages. Poke holes, thread needles, stitch the zines together. In that time, we run our mouths, give our ears, banter, bitch, bullshit, watch episodes of some bingeworthy show you can dip in and out of. We do this for hours. Her living room becomes a carpet of printed words and images, unfinished and finished. And then, when the sky has gone long dark, we’re done. It all fits back into the boxes in tight, neat, beautiful rows. One song.

A month or two later, another.

And then another.

Until nearly a year has passed, and suddenly, there are eight. And the most Wisconsin thing I can say about that is the same thing that slips past my lips when I briefly catch a toe on a tree root.


So cheers to you readers who have found us in one way or another. I sincerely hope the Ope! grows.

Welcome to our blog

I’m an old-school blogger. Started on geocities in the 90s as a television reviewer for Bartcop. (If you’re really old and have been politically active for years, you’ll recognize the reference.) My reviews morphed into an “I’m pissed” blog about politics soon after Bush v Gore. My creative partner, Rachel, is new to blogging. BUT she’s a MUCH better writer than I am so she’ll be doing most of the posts.

Check back every few weeks or so to check for updates. I’ll probably blog about the technical aspects of making zines. She’ll blog about the creative side.There will be something for everybody.