50 Shades of Drunken Feminism
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50 Shades of Drunken Feminism

A new screening series wrings social commentary from a drinking game.

A still from the YouTube video that started it all, DFF's Twilight drinking game

A still from the YouTube video that started it all, DFF’s Twilight drinking game.

At first glance, it might not seem inherently feminist to invite a group of people to get plastered and then shout at middling mass-culture movies in the name of women’s rights. But, as Drunk Feminist Films co-founder Gillian Goerz explains, that’s kind of the point.

“I didn’t want it to be angry,” she says of the series, perhaps making reference to the tired trope of feminists as angry, humourless man-haters. “I wanted it to be fun.”

Tomorrow, on April 15, the collective of feminists that—you guessed it—make live, feminist-slanted commentary on not-so-feminist movies, will be hosting a screening of 50 Shades of Grey at the Revue Cinema. The event, which will be kicked off with a lecture by the video games writer-designer (and BDSM and kink expert) Soha Kareem, sold out within a day. But never fear: there will be more drunken feminist film screenings to come. In the meantime, we spoke with Goerz about the series and what it means to put the fun back into feminism.

Drunk Feminist Films started two years ago as a group of friends—digital marketing entrepreneur Amy Wood, recent Women’s Studies M.A. graduate Shaunna B, and feminist activist Steph Guthrie, along with Goerz—with some spare time on their hands, trying to have a few laughs at the expense of politically regressive entertainment.

“I started a feminist Twilight drinking game,” Goerz explains. “So we decided to put four people in one room and do something kind of like [the Comedy Central show] Drunk History.” They recorded the viewing and put a condensed cut onto YouTube. When viewers showed interest, the friends decided to make a series of it.

Very quickly, the DFF foursome of white, cisgender women realized that by concentrating their efforts on single YouTube screenings, they were shutting out large swathes of the population. They opted to turn their attention toward small-scale, in-person events.

“White feminism gets a bad rap for a good reason,” says Goerz, acknowledging a growing sentiment that the feminist movement has been co-opted by white, and thus inherently privileged, individuals. By opening their events to the public, they were also opening up the conversation. And, in turn, the events did wind up being more diverse.

“We had a bit more of a dialogue,” Goerz says. “And people were pretty content to call us out on intersectionality.”

After taking a year off, the group was approached earlier this year by the Revue cinema, which was looking to host more interactive and theatrical events within their space. Realizing that their format lent itself nicely to a participatory, Rocky Horror Picture Show–style audience experience, the four women jumped at the chance. “It becomes half-party, half-screening,” Goerz explains.

For future events, the group are looking at potentially bringing more guest lecturers with broader perspectives into the fray, such as Kareem. And, above all, Goerz says, “We want to encourage people to appreciate that we’re not going to all agree.”

The Drunk Feminist Films hosts will announce their next film at tonight’s screening. Future consenters include modern classics like Bridesmaids, Clueless, and Empire Records.

“The idea is to take a shot and commiserate together,” Goerz says cheerfully.

CORRECTION: 8:43 PM The original version of this article accidentally stated that the screening will be taking place on April 14 when, in fact, it is set to happen on April 15. We have corrected the date and apologize for any confusion!