Why Josie And The Pussycats Means So Much To The Millennial Generation

Why Josie And The Pussycats Means So Much To The Millennial Generation

Here at Graffiti With Punctuation, we thought we’d give you a break from the usual programming - jerking off Michael Mann – to talk about something deeply awesome, deeply feminine, and deeply important to the millennial generation.

Odds are that if you’re sitting among a group of 24 to 40-year olds and someone shouts out ‘DU JOUR!’ they’re going to know what that means. Du Jour means friendship, Du Jour means teamwork, and Du Jour means, above all things, seatbelts. It also means that Josie And The Pussycats, a movie that was considered a box-office flop at the time of its release in 2001, has had more of a lasting cultural impact than Avatar. One movie grossed barely $20M globally, the other over a billion, yet the satirical musical comedy has endured in a way blue cats traversing through space never could. 

Primarily, because it was smart. Josie And The Pussycats wit is delivered in a glossy, pop package complete with body glitter, metallic halter tops, and female friendship mantras. Yet that does nothing to diminish its intelligence or its enduring influence among the audience of kids, teens, and young adults who saw it at the cinema upon release or – more likely – watched it on DVD as it gained cult status, being passed among friends, and through sleepovers like a chain letter. It was a viral hit before that term was even a thing. It knew that because of its outward appearance, its timing (it came post-The Spice Girls movie, after all), and triangle of female narratives that it wouldn’t be taken seriously, yet it didn’t seem to give a shit. It delivered its biting commentary on consumerism, identity commodification, and mass-market pop culture with a knowing wink from a heavily mascaraed eyelid. Critics, however, and the more serious among us were perplexed (to say the least). Legendary film critic Roger Ebert gave the film half a star at the time, commenting on how “dumb” it was.  

But Du Jour means art is subjective and 18 years later, it’s one of the more beloved films of the naughts. To the point where Mondo re-released the soundtrack on vinyl in 2017, complete with a throwback screening of the film at the Alamo Drafthouse in Los Angeles, which was attended by the Pussycats themselves – Rachael Leigh Cook, Rosario Dawson, Tara Reid – and featured a live performance of the soundtrack. The full thirteen songs have just been made available on streaming services for the first time, much to the joy of Twitter stans and the Josie And The Pussycats film is a slow-burning hit for local streaming service Stan, who host it. Not bad for a live-action adaptation of a girl group that first appeared in Archie Comics back in the sixties and recently had its own reboot in the utterly bonkers Riverdale television series. 

Co-directed and co-written by Harry Elfont and Deborah Kaplan (who also penned the songs and directed another cult gem in Can’t Hardly Wait), Josie And The Pussycats was as meta as Scream, as clever as Election, as funny as Old School, as glossy as any Britney Spears video, and as audibly catchy as any great female-fronted 90s LP, which isn’t a huge surprise given Kay Hanley from Letters To Cleo provided the lead vocals on the soundtrack with support from Buffy OST favourite Bif Naked (Cook, Reid and Dawson supplied backing vocals). It was a riot grrrl movie with No Doubt mass appeal, featuring just enough weird elements to make sure it endured in the pop culture lexicon. Dawson, for instance, was the long shot for Valerie and T.L.C’s Lisa ‘Left-Eye’ Lopes considered the original favourite (Beyonce and Aaliyah also auditioned). Parker Posey and Alan Cumming delivered a one-two punch of high camp performances, while Donald Faison, Seth Green and Breckin Meyer gave a tone-perfect parody of the boy band phenomenon at the time as Du Jour: a minor cameo that’s a treat given their combined star power in 2001. 

Then there’s the jerkin’ trio at the centre of it – Cook, Dawson and Reid – providing street smarts, ambition, and empathy as the grungy girl group we’re rooting for. Their unity as they work towards a shared dream is not dissimilar from another female-centered and equally underrated project at the time – Blue Crush – albeit one was tackling the music industry and the other pro surfing. Both, however, were about a trio of diverse young women fighting the patriarchy and powers determined to fit them into a box. And like The Pussycats, the film itself has never managed to be easily categorised. Part musical, part comedy, part satire, it almost defies categorisation and somehow manages to be all three things at once … something its audience understands and connects with deeply. 

Sydney, Australia. Getting her start as a police reporter, her writing on pop culture has appeared in publications such as the New York Post, Guardian, Penthouse, The Daily Mail, Empire Magazine, Gizmodo, Huffington Post, The Daily and Sunday Telegraph, i09, Junkee and many more. Previously seen as a presenter on SBS Viceland’s nightly news program The Feed and as the host of Cleverfan on ABC, she has been a journalist for over 15 years.

Her best-selling debut novel Who's Afraid? was published in 2016, followed by its sequel Who’s Afraid Too? in 2017, which was nominated for Best Horror Novel at the Aurealis Awards in 2018. Who’s Afraid? is being developed for television by the Emmy and BAFTA award-winning Hoodlum Entertainment. Her Young Adult debut, It Came From The Deep, was released globally on October 31, Halloween, 2017 and is a twist on The Little Mermaid meets Creature From The Black Lagoon.

Her fourth book, The Witch Who Courted Death, was released on Halloween, 2018 and nominated for Best Fantasy Novel at the Aurealis Awards in 2019. Her fifth novel set within the share supernatural universe is due for release in October, 2019.