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Here's a brief synopsis ():
Patty Schemel's a badass drummer, drugs, drugs, music blah blah, Courtney chews on something. Drugs, Kurt Cobain, drugs, Kristen Pfaff, drugs, crazy Hole tour, drugs drugs drugs, Courtney chews. AND THEN. Hole goes into the studio to record their commercial pop album Celebrity Skin. Producer Michael Beinhorn gaslights Schemel and wears her down by making her play her parts over and over again for eight hours a day for TWO AND A HALF WEEKS STRAIGHT before she finally breaks. Then Beinhorn plays Schemel's weakest takes for Courtney and convinces her to bring in some fancy session drummer whom he's secretly had on retainer the whole time. This pretty much drives Schemel directly to Crack Mountain, she quits the band, drugs drugs drugs, rehab, she gets better, plays with dogs. And then Courtney eats another cracker or something.
If you were around in the 90s, played in a band, or were a participant in 90s rock culture in any way, this movie serves as a reminder of what the industry was like at the time, and what it was to be a band in the 90s. The underground was real and the underground had clout to a point where people actually used the term "sellout." You didn't want to sell out because that was uncool; even worse, it meant you were betraying your authenticity and you might as well leave your street cred behind in a sad, crumpled-up pile next to your plaid flannel shirt and your duct-taped Vans. Nevermind was Nirvana's sellout album, with In Utero perceived as an attempt to regain said street cred. Celebrity Skin, in all of its intentional glossy commercial-production session-drummer glory, reinforced the warning tale to emerging grunge bands to avoid the wrath of shiny major labels and the lures of mass-market success.
In these modern times with the fleeting Internet, the accessibility of digital recording programs, and the traditional model of the music industry basically in shambles, I can't help but ask—is it still possible to sell out? Is that still a thing? Considering our easy access to mass exposure, does a rock underground still exist? Hearing our favorite song in a car commercial once made us cringe a little because it meant our favorite band had joined the ranks of the mainstream; it was no longer "ours." If your band gets a song in a commercial now, it's not considered a sellout, but rather a success. In fact, getting a song anywhere that yields even the tiniest scrap of cash is now considered a success. Bands used to make money by selling albums; now licensing seems to hold the only gold. Given the amount of people making and recording music coupled with our collective Internet-induced short attention span, the rise and fall of a band no longer gets the luxury of three albums. It happens in three months, three days, or better yet, three minutes . . . Millenial translation: that's roughly the length of a YouTube music video.