TIFF15 REVIEW: Rock the Box [2015]

Score: 7/10 | ★ ★ ★


Rating: NR | Runtime: 10 minutes | Release Date: 2015 (Canada)
Studio: National Film Board of Canada
Director(s): Katherine Monk

“I’m out to destroy that virgin whore dichotomy”

The story Katherine Monk brings us in Rock the Box isn’t necessarily unique when you only have to look at the Pop charts to see Miley Cyrus—or Lady Gaga to a more art-house abstraction—doing much of the same thing. What’s different between them and Rhiannon Rozier (DJ Rhiannon) is that EDM (Electronic Dance Music) is far from the same universe as Pop. While it’s become the biggest moneymaking sector in the industry, its not-so-radio-friendly tunes and messages keep it from gaining the mainstream exposure those other artists have at their fingertips. So this straight-A honors student turned DJ couldn’t simply take her “mask” to MTV or the Grammys and cause a publicity stir. No, Rozier had to go to Playboy.

To hear her tell it as she’s applying make-up for a show is to fully understand how conscious a decision this career move was. EDM is 98%-dominated by male performers to the point where she couldn’t get gigs she needed to become a heavy-hitter in the genre. Not only that, she had to watch women far less talented go and do what she believed she deserved after her hard work and patience. What vaulted them ahead on the food chain was the branding they carried with them as Playboy models. Audiences weren’t necessarily going for the music as much as the spectacle that label inherently brought with it. So despite being the “goody-two-shoes” everyone who knows the real Rhiannon is, she took the plunge and liberated her outlook in the process.

Monk takes a peek behind the curtain at artist, manager, publicist, image-consultant, etc. Rozier wears each of those hats for the DJ Rhiannon persona herself and therefore crafted said image from the start. Her move towards Playboy wasn’t “slutty” or “opportunistic” like social media outsiders are quick to judge—it was calculated. There’s something inspiring to this fact for young women the world over. She’s showing them that it’s okay to take control of their bodies and use a handicapped system against itself to find success. Who she is on stage or online isn’t necessarily who she is in the real world. It is possible to be the person you want to be while also providing an audience what they crave. Closed-minded thinking be damned—life and art can be light years apart.


photography:
courtesy of TIFF

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