Favourite Films: Spiceworld

I need to put Spiceworld on this list. I am so aware that it is a very bad movie. Probably one of the worst on this list. But I need to put it on because… I’m still in awe of how much it has stuck with me, and how listening to the Spice Girls still gives me shivers.

Spiceworld was one of the many sleepover movies I’ve had over the years, and definitely not the first one to make this list. Its plot is downright simple, yet ridiculous at the same time. Before I dive into that, let me just give you some quick background info: The Spice Girls were a UK girl band created by a record company and who then became mega stars. They championed the slogan of “girl power” and have been heavily criticized for this watered down feminist message–especially since they wore skimpy clothing on stage and had their own line of Barbie dolls. But, as I once literally argued in one of my Women’s Studies classes, the Spice Girls were actually hugely feminist in their method and deserved to be called that. At one point in their career, they fired their own manager and took over their own touring/music/emotional life. They may have had a watered down message of “girl power” but so what? They popularized feminism. They made it seem cool. They made it seem like you could be a feminist and also show your belly button and like boys and still have a career. I don’t know about you, but when I was a kid, all I heard about feminists were that they were gay and they were ugly. Since I was often called those things as a kid, too, I figured I may as well embrace the labels. Being a feminist was good, I already knew that much, and so, if that meant I was also a “lesbo” as the girls chanted in my gym class, and ugly as the boys chanted at recess, well, then, I was going to embrace being a feminist.

Then the Spice Girls came around. And I slowly realized that feminism and beauty–or feminism and sexuality–did not have to be mutually exclusive. They could exist together, and so, of course I wanted to experience the Spice Girls in all ways possible, including this horrible movie.

Because this movie is bad. It tries to be a Beatle film but it comes off as a B film (maybe even D or Z). Even though the Spice Girls were a created band, this film attempts to give them an origin story of friends who are having a hard time and just want to be devoted to their art. They also have a pregnant friend in this who, of course, gives birth to a girl at the end of the film. Some of the movie is them on tour, doing photo shoots, things like that–but there is also an alien invasion scene and some strange chases through downtown London. I honestly don’t remember, and honestly, the plot is hot garbage. I recommend the podcast “How Did This Get Made?” and their episode on Spiceworld because it is so bad and so hilarious to listen to actors rip it apart..

But young me loved this movie. I memorized the dances with my friend. We watched it over and over, analyzing the fashion choices, the makeup, the movements… everything. We wanted to be Spice Girls, which is to say, we wanted to be both in charge of our lives, our creativity, and our sexuality–though that last realization would come later. I had no idea who or what I really liked when I watched the Spice Girls–but I knew I liked something, and felt like I wanted to express it, and so, these strange five women with their five code names gave me the hope that I could eventually do that once I figured out if I was more Sporty or Baby or Ginger spice.

So yes. This movie is ostensibly terrible. But it was so important for me, and I don’t think I’m the only one. The sheer amount of press the Spice Girls have gotten recently affirm that for me, along with the possible reunion tours.

Also: I would like to note that in a recent interview, Scary Spice Mel B confirmed that she and Ginger Spice Gerri Halliwell were an item at one point. Check mate for my latent Sapphic feelings as a young girl. I really do think this is important to note, because once again, it demonstrates that these ideas of sexuality and feminism need not be mutually exclusive.

I will end this post with a Spice Girl’s music video, since it’s probably better acted and directed than Spiceworld. Enjoy!

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