Inspiring docu about women in the electronic music industry.
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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Underplayed is an inspiring documentary about women in the electronic music industry. More for parents and educators than kids or fans, the documentary offers interviews with and profiles of pioneer women who helped build the electronic music era, current successful artists, and underground DJs, artists, and producers, many of whom identify as women of color and/or queer. The film works quickly to establish the presence of women throughout electronic music production before moving toward profiles of women DJs, composers, musicians, and producers. Some statistics, talking heads, culture critics, and journalists are also interviewed. Some discussion of the difficulties of struggling as an unknown DJ or electronic music maker includes references to unsafe sexual practices, drug use, and hanging out with unsafe people. Some discussion of sexist, racist, anti-gay, and anti-queer attitudes, beliefs, and behavior, includes screenshots and spoken hateful comments that include slurs. Some occasional strong language includes: "f--," "c--t," "s--t," "bitch," and "slut." Some women are shown wearing no bra under t-shirts. A few instances of bare breasts can be seen through sheer clothing.
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What's the Story?
UNDERPLAYED begins by establishing the fact that women have always been involved in the genesis of electronic music. Further, Black, Hispanic, and queer communities were at the forefront of the beginning of the electronic dance music future. These pioneering women have largely been made invisible over time, virtually erasing their influence, work, innovation, and contribution to the electronic music world as we know it today. Many pioneering women and current artists in the electronic music industry are featured. Their stories, beginnings, breaks, failures, journeys, and perspectives encourage everyone to help make the electronic music industry, scene, and community remember its roots.
Is It Any Good?
This awesome documentary about women in the electronic music industry is kind of two documentaries in one. On one hand, Underplayed is informative, statistical, and historical, demonstrating how women have been effectively silenced in the origins and histories of electronic music, artistry, engineering, and production. This approach naturally leads to a strong call for change and specifically getting more girls and women into the industry, and by extension, any and all industries that continue to unfairly treat, involve, and represent women, people of color, and LGBTQ+ groups and individuals. For example, the 2019 Billboard Dance 100 Artists list featured only 5 women. Women make up only 3% of production and technical roles in the music industry, and women of color make up only 0.3%.
On the other hand, the film is also a showcase featuring positive, strong, brilliant, and inspiring examples of successful, struggling, breaking, and underground women artists who have and currently are breaking down barriers. These profiles and behind-the-scenes looks at the creative processes behind artists like Rezz, Alison Wonderland, and Tokimonsta are affirming, necessary, and help break down unfair practices, positions, and behavior toward women. Further, this kind of showcase fights against the sexist misconception about women in the music industry that assumes that women never make, write, compose, produce, engineer, or perform their own music, that they simply cannot be the brilliant geniuses behind the music. Underplayed, however, decides to play these women to provide intimate looks at their dedication, passion, skill, and genius. This demonstrates without a doubt that such limited representation in these kinds of industries (that have such gender and power disparities) also limits the sheer amount of art, beauty, and creativity put out into the world.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about sexism and anti-queerness in the electronic music industry. Did anything in Underplayed surprise you? Often when confronted with sexism, sexual harassment, and worse, some people hesitate to believe victims, as this film shows. How might we combat this problem?
Talk about the effectiveness of delivering a message through the form of a documentary. How convincing was the movie? What could it have done to be more effective?
What kind of impact will the concept of the "50/50 inclusion rider" have on entertainment industries? What other similar ideas might work?
- On DVD or streaming: March 8, 2021
- Cast: Isabelle Rezazadeh, Miriam Nervo, Olivia Nervo, Alexandra Sholler
- Director: Stacey Lee
- Studio: Amazon Prime Video
- Genre: Documentary
- Topics: Activism, STEM, Music and Sing-Along
- Run time: 91 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
- Last updated: March 15, 2023
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