★★★★ - STUFF
- Superb doco recounts how wave riders stood up against sexism -
In the 1970s, surfing became a big money sport.
Sometime in that decade and the one that preceded it, the usual swivel-eyed pack of muppets who pass themselves off as “marketing", or "management", or whatever other title a middle-aged white male saddo adopts when he hopes desperately to be taken seriously despite having no practical talents himself, had sat up and noticed that the world of surfing was ripe to be exploited and packaged as a way to sell clothing and accessories to the mythical “youth market".
And so began a long campaign to make as much money as possible out of something that had once just been a lot of fun, if you were brave enough to get any good at it.
And, just as with every other sport that got snatched up and re-sold, the women got left behind, as the forces of commerce spouted all the buzz words and slogans of a brave new decade in their advertising, but saved the usual misogyny and drivel for the boardroom, where the decisions on how this lucrative new target-market could be sliced up were made.
So, the women who surfed took on the exact same bloody battle that women in pretty much every sport you could name have been forced to fight: To be allowed to compete, to be taken seriously, to pursue an equal share of the prize money and to be seen as professional sports people, not typecast as a sideshow to the blokes, at best.
Girls Can't Surf is an Australian production that looks back with fondness, clarity, hilarity and plenty of still visceral fury at the indignities of the fight, as legends like Wendy Botha, Pam Burridge, Jodie Cooper, Pauline Menczer and a dozen others, stood up to the slurs, took on the idiots of the establishment and eventually carved out some official respect and recognition for their sport.
Girls Can't Surf is a spectacular, angering, engrossing and inspiring yarn, well-assembled and packed with indelible personalities.
One of the true pleasures of this job is being reminded, pretty much every week, that a well-made documentary is always a great watch, whatever the subject matter. Girls Can't Surf is a terrific film. Go and have a look.
- Graeme Tuckett, STUFF
Girls Can't Surf is now playing at Light House Cuba for limited sessions!