five young English girls in the wind


“Spice Girls.  Girl Power: those girls who changed the world”.

ARTE – FRIDAY SEPTEMBER 23 AT 10:25 P.M. – DOCUMENTARY

Organize a casting in London to select five pretty young women who are unknown but capable of dancing and singing on stage. Then cross your fingers hoping that this girl band of fortune make a hit. This is what Chris Herbert, a famous English manager, had in mind in the mid-1990s when he chose Melanie Brown, Emma Bunton, Melanie Chisholm, Geri Halliwell and Victoria Adams.

The following ? A global surge. Five ambitious girls, united, determined to co-sign all the songs proposed and not to let themselves be walked on by an environment as sexist as that of the music industry of the time. The Spice Girls were born and will, for four years, sell millions of records, fill gigantic halls and spread their slogan as brief as it is effective (“Girlpower! ») in the whole world. “We created a movement inspired by 1960s feminism but adapted to the 1990s”says Melanie Brown.

media storm

Yet far from the feminist punk rock movement of the American Riot Grrrl before them, the Spice Girls will both claim their feminism and play the game of capitalism by accumulating fortunes thanks, among other things, to the massive sales of multiple derivative products. From 1996 to 1998, the Spice Girls mania invades everything. Which annoys a lot of people. “They even advertise crisps and sodas! »launches, grimacing, Noel Gallagher, of the group Oasis.

A little too long, this documentary has the merit of recalling how the female group faced the formidable tabloid press. Then, starting in 1999 and the departure of Geri Halliwell, how criticism piled up on the four Spice Girls who continued their careers.

When Victoria Adams ("Posh Spice"), become the girlfriend of footballing icon David Beckham, reveals her pregnancy, the media storm is unleashed. At the time, it was inconceivable that a girl of girl band can have a child. Pregnant Melanie Brown will meet the same fate: “The media has gone so far as to blame us for British teenage pregnancies! We are no longer teenagers. »

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From more or less failed solo careers to depressions, new fulfilling lives to the reunion of the five Spice Girls on the occasion of a triumphant world tour in 2008 and 2009, this saga reminds us that, for an entire generation, this group will have ignited the spark of an emancipatory revolution, long before the #metoo era.

And, let's face it, this documentary will also have made it possible to jiggle like in the good old days on Wannabe, their rather irresistible first hit, which sold 7 million copies. Two minutes fifty-two seconds of formidable efficiency.

Spice Girls. Girl Power: these girls who changed the world Documentary by Vari Innes and Alice McMahon-Major (RU., 2022, 89 min). Arte - Available on Arte.tv until March 31, 2023

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