The Punk Singer

Do you know who Kathleen Hanna is...

 The Punk Singer, Sini Anderson, 2013

By Ali Tenenbaum

Do you know who Kathleen Hanna is? You don’t need to say yes to enjoy this documentary.  It tells the story of the lead singer of the bands Bikini Kill and Le Tigre who is a punk girl turned hero of the 1990’s feminist movement Riot Grrrl.  Turns out her story is fascinating and dramatic enough to speak for itself but the movie does a great job of weaving in killer archival footage, iconic interviews with music legends (Joan Jett and Kim Gordon to name just two) and a birds eye view of the Northwest music scene.  She even talks about penning “Kurt, smells like teen spirit” on the wall, and getting sucker-punched by Courtney Love.  “Grunge” has never felt less cliché.  Ultimately, what makes the movie so compelling are the heart wrenching, honest, first hand accounts from Hanna.  She lets us into her psyche and what we find is a complete badass brilliant cultural icon and a wounded bird all wrapped up into one.


The good news is even if you don’t know her or love her, the movie is only 81 minutes which is such a rare pleasure these days that’s reason enough to watch it. But there are lots of reasons to watch the seldom-told story of this punk singer.

Grandmother and child need earplugs.

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