By Jeremy Essig
By Jason Robinson
By Hans Morgenstern
By Joseph Hess
By Peter Gilstrap
By Julia Burch
By Jeremy Essig
By Nathan Smith
Music is ostensibly what brought everyone together, but very early on the story shifts to being about 'zines and networking. Was music actually an incidental part of the movement?
The songs were like a dream everybody was sharing. The bands were inspiring people and providing a rallying point. Punk-rock music was functioning as a metaphor, a theatricalized version of power and guts that people took and turned into whatever they wanted. Music wasn't incidental, but it was one part of the whole.
Could Riot Grrrl have happened the way it did without the mainstream coverage from Sassy, Newsweek, Spin, etc.? I've always wondered whether, without the media attention, it would have just been another strain of '90s underground music.
I think you're right, and I think that's one of the central dialectics of the story.
One of the repeating themes of the book's subjects is the idea that they thought they were alone, then after much hard work (letters, 'zines, word of mouth, 7" singles), they found this cool group of people. Could Riot Grrrl have happened today in this interconnected age? Is it almost too easy now?
It's too easy, and it's also too difficult. The hard-won relationships we formed in the '90s via zine and mail networks were so precious because we had had to do so much work to find them. But it's also important to remember that those relationships were very individual, very handmade. We may have Xeroxed 100 copies of a 'zine, but we hand-addressed every one, and in most cases we also hand-wrote a personal letter to insert into each issue we sent out, and we expected a well-thought-out handwritten response in return. I think online connectivity is too wholesale these days; there's not enough retail. And so we see that online communities and social networking is not actually alleviating people's isolation; it only appears to, but the connection too often doesn't go beyond skin-deep.