I saw Kevin Kurslake‘s Bad Reputation, a life-and-times-of-Joan Jett doc, during last January’s Sundance Film Festival. It tells her scrappy story in a thorough, relatively straightforward fashion, and therefore earned my admiration. The whole tale, start to finish, warts and all. Eight years ago I saw and mostly liked Floria Sigismondi’s The Runaways; I would classify Bad Reputation as a respectable complement to that film, and an essential sit if you’re any kind of fan.
I had one slight issue, and that’s the decision by Kurslake to sidestep — i.e., not directly address — Jett’s sexuality. It’s not as if her tough, hard-rock, leather-clad butchy persona hadn’t been telegraphed all along, but it still seems odd that it wouldn’t be discussed at all in a wide-open, this-is-me portrait such as this one. In a 1.29.18 review Autostrada’s “Fonseca” wrote that “Jett’s sexuality isn’t relegated to its own very special narrative segment [in the doc], and that’s because it’s everywhere — as it should be for a rock star, and as it should be for all of us.” If you say so, but it still feels like avoidance. To go by Bad Reputation, Jett not only never fell in love — she never even got laid.
BMG Films is releasing the doc sometime in September.