Saturday, 5 January 2013

Hit So Hard: The Life and Near Death Story of Patty Schemel

A couple of firsts for your humble narrator last night: first trip to the new Duke of York's cinema within Komedy Klub Komedia, and first trip to a cinema alone.

First mistakenly walking to the toilets, and then to the café (where music impressively tailored to fit the film was playing), I eventually found my way to the screen. There was a little sound trouble at the start, but these little quirks make the Duke's what it is. It's reminiscient of mate pissing about burning pizza and trying to work the remote upside-down before a movie marathon. You don't care; because you're in good company.

(And let's hope the recent purchase of Picturehouse by Cineworld really does just equate to a financial boost rather than ironing out these kinks altogether).

The first visually striking aspect of 'Hit So Hard' was its chapter titles, stark white fonts on a black background and hot pinks. This tactic of pulling key quotes out of interviewees' mouths and slapping them up on screen proved an annoying distraction by the documentary's second half, however. It was suggestive of when magazines do the same, leading to the reader's eyes constantly drifting from the main columns to focus on Robbie Williams calling someone a cunt or whatever*.

*Based on a true story. I remember the Reader's Letters in Q containing the missive of a chastising chap whose young daughter had spotted the naughty quote in the mag and kept asking Daddy what a 'cunt' was).

There was also the split-screen feature, where you'd be able to see a younger Schemel rocking out at 1995's Lollapalooza, while the older, wiser, been-there-sold-the-tshirt version chats from on a cosy sofa with a snoozing dog about things like leaving her job at Microsoft to go on tour with the band. This is an ode to what Little White Lies described as the 'cut-and-paste fanzine aesthetic'.

"Business as usual, not a gender issue" was how Courtney Love explained the decision to contract a session drummer to do Schemel's parts on Celebrity Skin. Harsh, but good on C-Lo for saying that. I'd made a similar point earlier in the day on Twitter when I'd read a journalist saying "Hurrah for Haim, winners of the Beeb's #soundof2013 poll! Take that, male guitar-music! Will 2013 be the Year of the Woman, finally? SMASH THE PATRIARCHY!". Or words to the effect.

I went on to compare it to Sports Personality of the Year Awards last year and how those were apparently sexist as there'd been no female nominees. Perhaps males had simply been more talented and personable that year? This is why I don't go in for 'positive discrimination' when it comes to gender. Elaborating upon this would require a separate post, but hire the best person for the job, says I.

There are plenty of libidinous, rock 'n' roll scenes for punters to feast on, and talking heads from the era of grunge giving their two cents. There are also a few surprises in form of endearing scenes (Melissa Auf der Maur and Schemel's sisterly, redheaded bond shines through in previously unseen backstage footage), amusing lines (Schemel's exceedinly entertaining mother on her daughter's playing: "I could watch her for hours. I'd shout at the camera, 'hey, stop cutting to the singer!' ") and genuinely shocking moments. The footage of Love stage-diving, only to have her clothes torn off while bouncers throw punches to rescue her from a crowd shapeshifted into a starved pack of wolves will haunt me.

Well, that and Erik Erlandson's teeth.

Alright, the same might happen if a male threw himself onto a clutch of screeching females at a gig with regards to clothing, but they'd be wanting keepsakes and to inspire envy by breathlessly saying "I swear I touched his hair!" rather than trying to rape the idol in question.

When the temptation of heroin managed to eclipse even Love's ego in scale, it was revealing of just how easy it is for anyone to disappear. How people stop caring as soon as you start sinking. Those of you trying to give up smoking or drinking as part of your New Years resolutions may, on an obviously smaller scale, relate. You may be afraid of your friends shunning you, complaining that you're no fun anymore simply because you no longer wish to damage yourself by drinking to their levels of excess. Everyone left Schemel to wander down her own path of destruction, Love cackling with her particular brand of gallows humour as she recalls.

It's important to try to remember then: there is life without Love.