Meet Carrie Brownstein: A Triple Threat
Although there’s nothing Jewish about her music, Carrie Brownstein is a bonafide Jewish rock star, as well as cowriter and co-star of the hit sketch comedy show “Portlandia” on IFC. In an interview on the MAKERS website, she reveals her early interest in acting, her start in rock music, and her success as an actor and comedy writer.
Brownstein was only 21 in 1995 when she formed the punk-inspired rock band Sleater Kinney along with Janet Weiss (also Jewish) and Corin Tucker. The band enjoyed critical and popular success until it went on indefinite hiatus in 2006. In the MAKERS interview, Brownstein talks of the frustration she felt when Sleater Kinney started performing. Although it wasn’t the first female rock band, and there was nothing “feminine” about its sound, it couldn’t escape being labeled a female rock group. Critics and reporters constantly highlighted the fact that Sleater Kenney was three women musicians. It wasn’t until the group had released a few successful albums that people stopped using “female” to describe the band, ignored gender, and instead just spoke about the music. Brownstein expressed relief that she eventually arrived at a point where her music could be judged without regard to gender.
When asked about the word “feminist,” Brownstein says that she considers herself one and laments the fact that there is a stigma attached to using the word, a holdover from a time where feminism seemed “anti-man or anti-fun or had an overly academic quality to it that is off-putting.” She goes on to say that people might be wary of the designation because it is politicized and there is a responsibility that comes along with it: people feel they need to understand feminist theory or be a women’s studies major to use the word. But Brownstein feels that the current definition of feminist is so broad and encompassing that everyone can feel comfortable identifying with the term.
Though Brownstein would most likely bristle at suggestions that her hit show be judged differently because she is a woman, feminism and gender are common topics on “Portlandia.” Co-writer and co-star of the show, Brownstein doesn’t shy away from these subjects in her writing.
A talented musician, actor, and writer, Carrie Brownstein is a strong role model for women in the entertainment industry. You can enjoy her latest work on “Portlandia” and with her current band, Wild Flag.