Rock 'n' roll in all its forms has always had an enormous power. As soon as white artists began adapting its catchy rhythms for the mainstream in the 1950s, conservatives began barking and howling, calling it "devil music" and trying to ban it and censor it every which way. Jerry Lee Lewis always believed that he was going to pay with hellfire and damnation, and played that much harder in spite of it. And each time the music grew too comfortable, someone came along with a louder, more ferocious idea, like Jimi Hendrix's feedback, or punk, or hip-hop. The musicians can seem godlike, with their simplified, direct line to poetry, sexual energy, anger, and overall physical, emotional release. Because of this, rock is self-propagating; there's no shortage of young, insecure musicians who yearn for this same kind of power.
This goes double for girls. There's a great list of girl rockers in history: The Ronettes, Patti Smith, Liz Phair, P.J. Harvey, Debbie Harry, The Pretenders, Siouxsie and the Banshees, The Go-Gos, The Bangles, Kim Gordon (of Sonic Youth), Lauryn Hill, Sleater-Kinney, The Donnas and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, plus many bands of mixed sex (X, Talking Heads, Smashing Pumpkins, The Velvet Underground, etc.). But for some reason, girls still have a hard time getting into this boy's club. These days it helps if you have a body like Fergie's, but that doesn't exactly send a hopeful message to those same young, insecure, up-and-comers. And so the new documentary Girls Rock!, directed by Shane King and Arne Johnson, begins by taking a trip to the annual "Rock 'n' Roll Camp for Girls" in Portland, Oregon and comes away with something a bit more.