Spice Girls: 20 years later, many things have changed — except the need for girl power
A lot happened in the 1990s.
The Berlin Wall came down, Nelson Mandela got out of jail while OJ Simpson and Bill Clinton avoided jail, Princess Diana died, a cloned sheep was born and five young women from London told us that girl power was what they wanted. Really, really wanted.
Yes, I’m talking about Mel C, Posh Spice, Baby Spice, Scary Spice and Ginger Spice, a.k.a. the Spice Girls.
Now, don’t go scrambling to the back of your closet looking for your Union Jack mini-dresses. I’m not writing about the fabulous five because they are attempting another reunion. No, I am writing because this month marks the 20th anniversary of the release of the movie Spice World. Yes, you read that right, I am pointing out the 20th anniversary of the Spice Girls’ movie.
Why am I doing that? Well, it is a big anniversary for a big group that meant a lot more than catchy pop tunes to a lot of people. And a lot of those people now have their own daughters.
Also in this current culture of sexual harassment, gender pay-equity issues and women walking red carpets in pairs as a show of strength and co-operation (plenty of nitwits think women can’t work together) this couple of hours of pure female fun is a new year tonic healthier than any juice cleanse.
To celebrate the milestone as part of its One Nighters VIP events Cineplex Theatres is showing Spice World across the country on Jan. 22. For $10 you get into a VIP theatre and have access to specialty Spice Girls-themed drinks and food.
“It’s more of an event. It’s a chance to revisit something you loved with a friend or family member,” said Sarah Van Lange from Cineplex. “We’ve seen with our other VIP night movies that people are coming in groups and just having a good time. It’s fun nostalgia.”
For the record I was not a direct fan of the Spice Girls as they were dominating the world in the mid-1990s. I had no CDs, no DVDs, no T-shirts and honestly I thought the idea of a Baby Spice was a tad creepy.
But what I was a fan of was how these women made a couple of tween girls and a handful of their friends in my life feel. They inspired them, empowered them and drove them to put on Spice Girls shows in our living room. To be honest, at the time, I maybe didn’t appreciate the Friday-night tribute band gigs as much as I should have, but now, looking back it makes me smile and cringe. Perfect.
I’m sure we were not alone spicing up our lives. Girls everywhere were lining up in front of parents and siblings and becoming pretend pop princesses. You just have to look at the Spice Girls’ bottom line for proof of that.
In their six years as a group (I’m not counting that brief reunion thing in the late 2000s or even the widely popular 2012 Olympic Closing ceremonies appearance) they sold 75 million records. Those are the kind numbers make today’s record company executives weep. And as for merchandise sales, well, the Spice Girls branding machine was a far-reaching juggernaut that surely made even KISS’s Gene Simmons jealous. And that’s a guy who branded coffins and condoms.
When the movie came out, the kids came out. It was their Hard Days Night, their Grease. It did about $100 million in box office sales, four times more than it cost to make the movie.
The plot, like a good pop song, was simple but fun. Essentially a road trip movie that saw the group of besties facing all sorts of trouble and high jinx on their way to the big show. The movie was packed with guest stars including Sir Roger Moore, Elvis Costello and Meatloaf, who famously drove the double-decker Spice Bus and when asked about fixing clogged toilets said: “Hey, I love these girls. I’ll do anything for them, but I won’t do that.”
The movie made a busload of money despite being trashed by critics. Leaving one to wonder: what was it critics expected from a Spice Girls movie, another Little Women?
So, here we are now 20 years later and many things have changed — for goodness sake, Posh Spice is now Billionaire Spice — but one thing that truly hasn’t changed, is the need for girl power.