Episode 47: Tank Girl

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Glad to be back from the DDT-soaked swamps of Florida last episode, Sean and Cody are joined by Best Pick podcast host Jessica Regan for a journey into the heart of flashy pop-culture ‘90s-ness that is this 1995 science fiction comedy. In the world of Tank Girl, Earth has been desiccated by a comet and lovable desert-dwelling rogue Rebecca (Lori Petty) has the last water that hasn’t been sucked up by the evil Water & Power corporation. When W&P exec Nestlē Kesslee (Malcolm McDowell) decides he’s gotta have her water too, Rebecca nicks a tank and teams up with Jet Girl (Naomi Watts) to wreak some righteous revenge on the capitalist patriarchy. Environmental issues discussed include the real life water swindles, child poisonings and other horrendous deeds of Nestlē Corporation, and whether climate change is today what asteroid/comet apocalypse scenarios were in the ‘90s.

How does Nestlē gain control of water resources it doesn’t own, and how does it abuse the rights of indigenous peoples to choke the planet in billions of unrecycled water bottles? Did Nestlē’s soulless CEO really try to tell the United Nations that water was not a human right? Speaking of that CEO, what other evil planet-killing corporation did he sit on the board of? How was the vision of Tank Girl director Rachel Talalay compromised by sexist memos from studio executives? What’s the perfect age to see this movie? Is this film a noble experiment in feminism and queerness that went off the rails, or does it remain a hidden gem of ‘90s culture? How much would you pay for a prosthetic kangaroo pee-pee? Should there be a remake of this film (yes) and who should play Tank Girl? All these questions and more are rolling across the desert in this much-anticipated, long-awaited episode of Green Screen.

Big thanks to Jess Regan of the Best Pick podcast, which has been a major influence on Green Screen.

Original 1995 trailer for Tank Girl.
Early in Tank Girl, Rebecca (Lori Petty) gets sassy when attacked by goons of the evil Water & Power Corporation. The W&P soldier in this clip happens to be played by Richard Schiff, one of the “That Guys” discussed in the episode.
Kesslee (Malcolm McDowell), CEO of the Water & Power Corporation, demonstrates some of his corporate management skills. Perhaps he was a business school classmate of real life Nestlē CEO Peter Brabeck-Letmathe?
More sassiness from Lori Petty in Tank Girl. This was, incidentally, the portion of the film where episode guest Jess Regan said she “lost her connection” to the plot.
Late in the film, half-human, half-kangaroo mutants called the Rippers become allies of Tank Girl and Jet Girl. Witness the spectacularly unsuccessful makeup and practical effects used to bring them to “life.”
A compilation of some of the best moments from Tank Girl. NSFW language.

Additional Materials About This Episode:

Jessica Regan (Guest for This Episode)

Best Pick, the podcast they host (with Tom Salinsky and John Dorney)

Jess’s Twitter

The book: Best Pick: A Journey Through Film History and the Academy Awards by John Dorney, Jessica Regan & Tom Salinsky (Amazon.com link, preorder, comes out February 2022):
https://www.amazon.com/Best-Pick-Journey-through-History/dp/1538163101/

Environmental History: The Horrors of Nestlē Corporation

Paul Muir, “The Human Rights and Wrongs of Nestle and Water For All,” The National, November 28, 2013:
https://web.archive.org/web/20210215223339/https://www.thenationalnews.com/arts-culture/the-human-rights-and-wrongs-of-nestl%C3%A9-and-water-for-all-1.303517

Ian James, “Little Oversight as Nestle Taps Morongo Reservation Water,” The Desert Sun, July 12, 2014:
https://web.archive.org/web/20151230105710/http://www.desertsun.com/story/news/environment/2014/07/12/nestle-arrowhead-tapping-water/12589267/

Nivedita Balu and Nichola Groom, “Nestle Told to Stop Spring Water Diversions in San Bernardino Forest,” Reuters.com, April 23, 2021:
https://www.reuters.com/business/environment/nestle-asked-stop-spring-water-diversions-san-bernardino-2021-04-23/

Nestle’s permit to take water from the San Bernardino Forest expired in 1988. “US Forest Service Investigates Expired Nestle Water Permit,” Washington Times, April 11, 2015:
https://web.archive.org/web/20150412143133/https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/apr/11/us-forest-service-investigating-expired-Nestle-wat/

“Groups Challenge Nestle’s Bottled Water Greenwashing,” Polaris Institute, December 9, 2008:
https://web.archive.org/web/20141022031038/http://www.polarisinstitute.org/groups_challenge_nestl%C3%A9%E2%80%99s_bottled_water_greenwashing

Nestle’s “super-greenwashing” regarding bottled water. Michael DeJong, “Water, Water, Everywhere,” Huffington Post, May 25, 2011:
https://www.huffpost.com/entry/water-water-everywhere_b_177441

Asteroid/Comet Impacts

Robert Marcus, H. Jay Melosh & Gareth Collins, Earth Impact Effects Program, Imperial College (London) & Purdue University:
https://impact.ese.ic.ac.uk/ImpactEarth/ImpactEffects/

The Movie

Rachel Talalay (Director) and Her Vision

Larry Rohter, “Are Women Directors an Endangered Species?”, The New York Times, March 17, 1991 (discusses the sexist memos given to Talalay while filming Freddy’s Dead):
https://www.nytimes.com/1991/03/17/movies/film-are-women-directors-an-endangered-species.html?pagewanted=all

Emily Langer, “Paul Talalay, Researcher Who Found Cancer-Preventing Qualities in Broccoli, Dies at 95,” The Washington Post, March 13, 2019 (director Rachel Talalay’s father):
https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/obituaries/paul-talalay-researcher-who-found-cancer-preventing-qualities-in-broccoli-dies-at-95/2019/03/13/c0351f3a-4418-11e9-8aab-95b8d80a1e4f_story.html?noredirect=on

Ian Bailey, “Q&A: UBC Professor Went From Doctor Who Fan to Director of This Season’s Finale,” The Globe & Mail, August 8, 2014:
https://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/british-columbia/director-faces-british-pedestrians-fainting-cyberman-with-the-help-of-a-good-doctor/article19966559/

Clark Collis, “‘It Was a War!’: The Crazy Behind-the-Scenes Story of Tank Girl,” Entertainment Weekly, March 30, 2020 (extensive quotes from Talalay and Lori Petty about the film):
https://ew.com/movies/tank-girl-lori-petty-rachel-talalay/

A recent (December 2020) interview with Rachel Talalay by the Horrific Network.

Miscellaneous

Bonnie Burton, “Margot Robbie Gears Up For a New Tank Girl Movie,” CNET, September 9, 2019:
https://www.cnet.com/news/margot-robbie-gears-up-for-a-new-tank-girl-movie/

Leo Labs, “Analysis of the Cosmos 1408 Breakup,” Medium, November 18, 2021 (discusses the news item, related to the Gravity episode, about a recent event in Earth orbit):
https://leolabs-space.medium.com/analysis-of-the-cosmos-1408-breakup-71b32de5641f

Where you can find Tank Girl: https://www.justwatch.com/us/movie/tankgirl

Tank Girl (1995) on IMDB: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0114614/
Tank Girl (1995) on Letterboxd: https://letterboxd.com/film/tank-girl/

Next Movie Up: The Birds (1963)

The image associated with Tank Girl is presumably copyright (C) 1995 by MGM/UA. Its inclusion here is believed permissible under fair use. We are not the uploader of any YouTube clips embedded here.
The main episode includes a musical composition, “Modern Rock Boy,” by Audionautix, used under Creative Commons 4.0 license.

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