top of page
  • Writer's pictureShannon Heibler

Josie and the Pussycats (2001)

If you have not seen this movie because it "looks dumb" or whatever, I implore you. Go. Watch this subversive wonder. Feel free to cackle. Let go of alllll your conceptions about what this movie is. Get ready to sprain a finger trying to find the soundtrack on Spotify as fast as you can.


I saw this movie against my will in the theaters when it came out. My German exchange student, Uschi, wanted to see it and my mom told me I had to take her. Poor Uschi. No one told us the movie wasn't a candy coated romp so much as a hilarious and subversive paean of American consumerism/capitalism that doesn't really translate. I laughed so hard the whole time and Uschi just looked bored.


I'm going to keep pitching that you watch the movie. There's a reductive stereotype of late 90s boy bands and they named them "Du Jour."

I recently treated myself to a bumper sticker that reads "Du Jour Means Seatbelts" and I'm so delighted by it. Check out Super Yaki for that and more celebrations of movies that are just my speed, and hopefully yours too.


Doctoral thesis papers could be written on the product placement in this movie. That's the joke, of course. Product placement everywhere all the time. But I never clocked just how pervasive it was before this viewing. I was joined by my dear friend, Andy, while watching this week and we both kept calling out bizarre/hilarious products where there oughtn't be. There should be a pop quiz at the end: how many boxes of Bounce did you spot? My memory of the movie was product placement in places like the private planes and hotel rooms, but the movie is really smart in that it eases you into the saturation. Riverdale is believably decked out in corporate sponsorship in every frame. The list of brands beneath the welcome to Riverdale sign is overwhelming. Giant Coca-cola signage graced the tiny bowling alley. It's everywhere.


This soundtrack is an absolute banger. I've been listening to it nonstop since I ordered my bumper sticker but somehow it's going to ramp up even more now. I love the gently feisty girl rock of the beginning of this century. I'd say I wish there was more being made but we already have this soundtrack so...? I'll just listen to that.


The performances are mostly fine. The trappings of this film are what make it remarkable, not the story or the acting. Always excepting Alan Cumming (how did I ever let "eye contact! hand!" leave my vocabulary??) and Parker Posey (who, as Andy pointed out, lisped on the word "tried" which is such a choice). And somewhat surprisingly, Tara Reid, whom I feel we collectively wronged by not appreciating her enough. She understands the assignment. Her earnest, bubbly Melody could be very easily made annoying but Reid toes the line and I love her start to finish. Additional shout outs to the members of Du Jour. Terrifically unhinged performances that are featured exactly the right amount. Missy Pyle is an American treasure and I'm so pleased that she's in so many movies in my collection. (Golly I cannot wait for the Random Number Generator to decide it's time for Galaxy Quest.)


What struck me the most about Josie and the Pussycats this time around was what it is as a time capsule. It came out in spring of 2001 and what a different world that was. We were firmly in a new millennium. Technology was evolving faster than I could write out a text on my candy bar cell phone. There was a buzz of excitement to everything. And then, of course, 9/11 happened. There have been a few examinations about what happened to the US culturally following that horrible event. Some cultural scholars believe that we lost our unifying sense of culture in that moment - things became bland, uniform, and jingoistic. I liken it to the halt in the evolution of exaggerated feminine silhouettes as World War II arrived. Fashion certainly moved towards clean lines and non-invasive colors and patterns for a bit. But before that... Wow. It's important to note that Josie represents a heightened sense of fashion but it's not tooo far removed from the trends of the time. Futurism reigned. Iridescent and holographic fabrics. Synthetic everything. Overblown, unnatural animal prints. COLOR. Oily shine/sweaty sheen. BODY GLITTER AND STICK ON RHINESTONES. It's kind of incredible. The cuts of the clothing look horrible by today's standards but there's something so in-your-face-individualism about it all. No bras. Belly chains. It's inspiring (in a way I will never replicate - but I appreciate the attitude). It's jerkin'.


Ink, glitter on paper.



Takeaways:

-This was my first attempt at screen printing and I was soooo scared! It's pricey and fussy. But I really wanted to try it and true to form, I wanted to try a bunch of different techniques in this new medium I'd never used before (multiple screens/layers, ombre, glittah, tiny detail). My first attempt at coating the screens in photo emulsion didn't go great. But I figured it wouldn't so I rolled with it and redid it. The second go is far from perfect - the subliminal messages get fuzzy in lots of places - but I'm really happy with it.

-I didn't want to spend a lot so I just bought a cheap multi-pack of inks and one of my least favorite things about how this turned out was the color. Too deeply saturated, especially the pink.

-I watched parts of the movie again to gather as many of the subliminal messages as I could for the background and my god. This movie. One of my favorites was "Can't Hardly Wait was underrated" which is funny and true.

-Despite the fact that I usually have glitter somewhere on my face, I don't like it much. But I couldn't do a Josie piece without it.

-I will absolutely be doing screen printing again. I really like print work, it turns out. This and the lino pieces really fit some niche in my brain. LOTS of serotonin. I get excited to do it. And I figured out where I could put up a quick dry line in the house and this image brings me *such* joy.



Next week, a movie that intimidates me so much artistically I hoped it would come up much much later so I could feel worthy/another banger of a soundtrack: Labyrinth.


Have a great week and remember: Du Jour means hygiene.

41 views4 comments

Recent Posts

See All

4 Comments


Emily Christoffersen
Emily Christoffersen
May 14, 2021

I am in the sad, sorry camp of never having seen this film, but just like all of your blog posts and coupling art, I'm incredibly inspired to see it! And I'm so glad that printing dumps that serotonin!!!

Like
Shannon Heibler
Shannon Heibler
May 14, 2021
Replying to

Oh my gosh, Em. You will love it. I'd happily watch it again with you if you want a movie buddy for this journey!

Like

ajkahnke
May 13, 2021

So much body glitter! So much reflective animal print! This print is incredible!

Like
Shannon Heibler
Shannon Heibler
May 13, 2021
Replying to

Thank you, friend! And double thanks for being my movie buddy!

Like
bottom of page