Satisfaction, a movie about an all-girl rock band, gained an unexpected following after its release in 1988. What was meant to be a simple summer hit movie of the 1980’s became a cult hit among teenagers. Though critics berated it for its lack of consistency among cultural references, the movie’s music and story connected with the youth of the late 1980’s.
The plot line surrounds four best friends who, having just graduated high school, decide to try out for a gig at a bar for the summer. Though the band is intended to be an 80’s rock band, the women typically sing songs from the 60’s. Though many critics denounced this inconsistency as a major flaw in the movie, I think that it speaks to the disconnect that many teenagers felt with this time period.
Politically, the 1980’s were a time during which the country took a turn towards conservatism. Social and economic policies were vastly different from the liberalism of the 60’s and 70’s. With this conservatism came the evolution of a new class of youths, colloquially called “yuppies.” These privileged baby boomers were the new, young professionals with college educations and expensive tastes. They became the symbol of the decade and were further known for being shallow, materialistic and self-centered. Perhaps this is the reason that the rock group portrayed in Satisfaction didn’t play music from the 80’s. The girls portrayed in the movie were far from the conservative, privileged “yuppies” of the 80’s.
The lead females of the band each deviate from the ideals of the 80’s in their own way. Jennie, the lead singer, is the valedictorian of her class but is being raised by her older brother. Rather than study in preparation for her first year of college, she chooses to lead the band on this adventure for a summer gig. She is passionate about the band and the music, and is the driving force behind keeping the band on track and staying together.
Mooch, the drummer, plays the tough rocker chick who never takes off her leather jacket. Her style and attitude are very similar to the greasers of the 50’s and early 60’s. In one of the first scenes in the movie, she is shown in a confrontation with a local gang. Later, she steals their van to drive the band to the try outs. Her sassy, angry attitude can also be seen as a reflection of the late 60’s and 70’s, when the Vietnam War sparked a youth movement that was very against the war and “the man.”
Billy exudes the essence of a 60’s hippie. Her attitude is the perfect foil to Mooch’s closed off and tough attitude. Rather, Billy has a very lax demeanor and is most often shown strolling along the beach talking to a dog she befriended. She is the most likely to take liberties with the music while the girls are performing “yuppie” party, shend is the most free spirited in terms of caring what people think of them. In a scene in which the girls get invited to a distinctly “yuppie” party, Billy shows up in her trademark ratty clothes and tries to steal the expensive utensils from the garden party. Furthermore, she is frequently high from marijuana and other pills that are never identified, another trait of the hippie culture of the 60’s.
Daryle is known among the group for her blase attitude toward sex, another trait reminiscent of the 60’s. She is the flirt of the group and the most outspoken about sex in general. Again, this is very different from the general attitude of the 80’s further explaining why the ban performed hits of the 60’s rather than their own generation’s music.
The women of this movie are headstrong, talented, and entertaining. Though critics argue that it doesn’t make sense for an 80’s rock band to play 60’s songs, I challenge them. Maybe it makes total sense that a young rock band in the 80’s would play songs from a different era that spoke to them more than the one they were living in. They used music to express who they were and what time period most spoke to them and that the use of music is, essentially, timeless.