Month after month, Netflix releases a brand new batch of films and given today’s time they tend to have a prominent and topical topic behind them. Sometimes they are excellently executed and sometimes we have movies like Moxie where it completely misses the spot. Having had just finished Haikyu!!, I was once again scouring Netflix for something to entertain myself with. I came across Moxie, which was immediately appealing, considering that Nico Hiraga was in it. I started watching with no expectations and was quickly hit with the epitome of white feminism.
Essentially, the movie follows a 16-year-old girl, Vivian, who is in need of a life experience to write about in a college essay. After finding out about her mom’s rebellious teenage years and meeting a new classmate who isn’t afraid to call her teacher out on how all of the books in her English class are based on white guys’ problems, she decides to start a mini publication called Moxie where she exposes all of the sexism going on at her school. On the surface, it seems to have a good foundation — empowering women, standing up to the injustices going on at school, and the production supported a diverse cast. But something about the movie just irked me; something felt off. After a good hour of just aimlessly thinking about it, I finally figured out the root of the problem: the main character has nothing to lose compared to her POC counterparts.
Netflix really decided to make a movie about feminism and included an incredibly diverse cast made up of Black, Asian, Afro-Latina, and even trans women, just to make the main character a cis white girl with nothing to lose. Now, there is nothing wrong with the main character of a film being white, don’t get me wrong. However, when you have a diversified cast of characters with completely different yet complex backgrounds about how feminism plays into their lives as minorities, it all just seems like a missed opportunity. When talking about feminism, we have seen it from a white perspective time and time again. Why not explore the experiences of the other minority characters?
At one point in the movie Vivian’s best friend Claudia, who is Asian, confronts her after taking the blame for running Moxie in order to keep Vivian out of trouble. She tells her that Vivian doesn’t understand what she is going through because she is white. She explains that her mother had immigrated from another country and that her expectations for Claudia are high, putting her under a constant amount of pressure. Most importantly she says that she doesn’t have the liberty to take the risks that Vivian does because of this very reason. Logically one would think that the movie would elaborate on this — they should surely delve into how non-white women show and express their feminism and how it coincides with their ethnicity and race — but they never touched on it again.
The movie highlights this massive problem that other people face and just doesn’t elaborate on it, but this is exactly what the movie needed. Claudia’s story is enticing and something that could definitely be developed more — why not make the movie from her perspective rather than Vivian’s? And this goes for all of the other non-cis or non-white women in the film, they all have stories that arguably are more intricate than a girl who needs to find something to write for a college essay.
If there is one thing that this movie does correctly it’s that it perfectly describes how the media uses minorities in today’s age — as props. Think about it: the movie makes Vivian this girl boss main character who has probably never faced any sort of marginalization in her life and leaves the minorities as supporting characters who only help her realize that inequality is real. While the movie did a somewhat decent job of empowering women, they probably should have reconsidered the main character. So before you go and draw hearts and stars on your hand in hopes of abolishing the patriarchy, maybe listen to the stories of minorities and their experiences in a patriarchal society.