The Go Go’s: A Story About Female Ambition

The 90-minute documentary directed by Alison Ellwood explores and follows The Go Go’s on their long and arduous journey to becoming the first successful all-female band to play their own instruments and write their own songs. On August 1st, the new documentary premiered on the Showtime channel, giving viewers the opportunity to look at the girls through a different lens, as well as revealing that the band, which consisted of Belinda, Jane, Margot, Elissa, and Charlotte, is in fact deeper and more influential than many assume.

With old footage from stage performances, the documentary makes the band members, as well as the fans, reminisce about the band’s playful punk/pop beat. They started off as girls who wanted to rebel and didn’t want to conform to society’s ideals and expectations; little did they know they would make a breakthrough in the history of not only music but also feminism, inspiring many women to follow in their footsteps.

Ellwood’s documentary goes back in time, retracing what happened to the members and how they got where they are today. The documentary includes a mixture of footage, including old interviews, the band performing on stage in the 1980s, and current interviews of them today – debating and discussing their youth, how everything started, and where everything went wrong. The members specifically discussed how misunderstood they felt back then and how fame seemed to ruin everything, leading to their 1985 break up, which they acknowledge was also influenced by drugs, money, and popularity. Now that they have grown wiser and older, they collectively feel they have learned to prioritize what’s important to them and can finally come back better than they were before. 

“We did it all ourselves,” says Belinda, the lead singer. Many assume some man put them together, but the truth is they did it all on their own. They essentially took the first steps into putting an end to sexism in the music world and made it a world of their own by owning the stage and unapologetically owning their success. 

The documentary is truthful and uncensored, showing all parts of their careers. According to Ellwood, she just wanted to make a documentary about their lives to save the legacy of hard-working women who made history. Another thing she wanted to accomplish with her documentary was to help finally get The Go-Go’s where they belong: the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

According to Belinda Carlisle, the overdue induction of the band into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has to do with gender inequality.  Currently, only 8% of the inductees are women. Carlisle said, “the Rock Hall has discredited themselves…just with the lack of women.” Documentaries such as Ellwood’s demonstrate the relevance of such artists; even when artists go unrecognized by the industry, their fans continue to appreciate their work and their impact as they continue to pave the way for future generations.

Photo by Paul Natkins/Getty Images (Paul Natkin)