(I bet that you thought by the title that this was going to be a personal post about the legendary extremely tough bad girl Valerie Loftus! I’m actually just going to talk about the song “Bad Reputation” by Joan Jett. Sorry.)
At home in Mayo and availing of the ridiculous amount of movie channels the Sky box offers, I watched Easy A and Kick Ass back to back. Both extremely enjoyable movies. Both teen movies. But other than that, completely different, right? Nope. Easy A and Kick Ass have one more thing in common.
They both use this song when the lead female character does something cool or badass. OK, so Olive Penderghast’s creation of her slut wardrobe doesn’t really compare to Hit Girl’s killing spree in terms of badassery, but…you know what I mean.
Maybe it’s because the song works extremely well (I mean, can you imagine 11-year-old Hit Girl pulverizing ten men to, say, “Party in the USA”?) but “Bad Reputation” is fast becoming a movie cliché. So you have a girl doing something slightly risque or dangerous – sure we’ll stick “Bad Reputation” on! Cos she don’t give a damn ’bout her reputation! See? SEE? That’ll explain the situation nicely.
If you don’t believe me, here’s some more proof:
The song was the theme tune to the awesome Freaks and Geeks, the lead character of which was a girl trying to break out of the “geek” mould while getting into all sorts of scrapes with the bad crowd. She don’t give a damn about her reputation!!
It was used in the first scene to Ten Things I Hate About You, to create a contrast between Kat Stratford in her beat up old car (baaad grrrl, duh) and the fun-loving popular kids listening to Barenaked Ladies in their shiny jeep. She’s never been afraid of any deviation!!
In a rare subversion of the cliché, the song was used in Shrek when SHREK HIMSELF (yes, a male ogre!) fights off Farquaad’s knights in Duloc. He don’t really care if you think he’s strange, he ain’t gonna change!!
Adding to these examples Easy A, Kick Ass and The Runaways (which is a film about Joan Jett herself, so acceptable) we have quite a hefty pile of evidence to support our case. I suppose it’s easy to understand why all these people-who-choose-songs-for-film-soundtracks (what’s the technical term? I want this job) plump for “Bad Reputation” for the tough-chick montage scenes time after time after time. It’s bouncy but not too pop-oriented, and angsty without being alienating. Off the top of my head, I can’t think of any other song that would do the job quite as satisfactorily as “Bad Reputation”.
However, both Miley Cyrus and Avril Lavigne have covered “Bad Reputation”, meaning its badass quality is diminishing by the second. It’s time to find a new theme tune for the “badass girl doing badass stuff” scenes fast, before Kelly Clarkson or Selena Gomez get to it and we have to abandon “Bad Reputation” altogether. Let’s hope that day never comes, for everybody’s sake.