Celebrity Skinned: Patty Schemel Lesbian Hero featured in film Hit So Hard

Curator's Note

LGBT people, (lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans) have long been both underrepresented and misrepresented in society. Most often, in the arts, LGBT people end up being pigeon-holed and boxed into sexualized categories, only recently emerging as full three dimensional characters, who just so happen to be LGBT. The music documentary, Hit So Hard: The Life and Near Death of Patty Schemel, is a breath of fresh air in lesbian representation in rock-docs. Too often, hidden, reduced to sex objects, ridiculed, and more, women in rock have long struggled for equality. Lesbian women, even more, struggle to be seen AS women, let alone viable artists. As the drummer for the band Hole, out lesbian drummer, Patty Schemel’s life put her on the music map, in the limelight as one of few lesbians in rock and opened doors that few women, let alone lesbians, have ever walked through. Schemel represents a handful of women drummers in rock, let alone successful women drummers. As such she stood out, resulting in enormous pressure as revealed in Tom Tom Magazine, the only magazine dedicated to women/girl drummers, in the world. This rock-doc is edited with more than 40 hours of Schemel’s own personal video footage, this rock-doc is also an honest portrayal of the ups and downs of celebrity life, the spectacle, the friendships on the road and the shallowness of their ‘celebrity skin’. Schemel embraces the spectacle and gets lost in it, but hers is also a story of recovery. What shines through the most in her story that is shared by thousands of LGBT folks is the universal story of addiction to deal with personal trauma. After all, anyone is susceptible to addiction once they start drug use. Too often, because LGBT people are already seen as less than and othered, we feel we must be perfect and attempt to hide our inadequacies and personal challenges. If we become successful we have to represent our WHOLE TRIBE. Those pushed to the margins tend to embrace drug use as a remedy of eliminating the pain of being othered—fame only adds to the challenges. Hit So Hard is a too common story from the margins but a universal lesson of survival too. In the end, Patty Schemel wins and is classified as a true Lesbian Hero for the lives she will save by sharing her own.


Shani, Thanks for this post. I have to admit I have not seen this film yet, but with a bit more space to write, I'd be curious to hear some other titles (whether admired or disliked) you could add to this discussion. Is Hit So Hard entirely exceptional as a lesbian rock doc or are other others?

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