Inside the Absurdity of ‘Spice World’

(AP Photo/Adam Nadel)

I wish I could say that my love of the Spice Girls as an 11-year-old was based on some innate wokeness, but really, when I first heard the group’s debut album Spice 22 years ago, all I cared about were the insatiable melodies, catchy hooks, and Mel B’s rapping (“Here’s the story from A to Z”) that carried ‘Wannabe’ into its final chorus.

From the jump, I was a Spice Girls stan. The group, an all-female pop band cobbled together following a blind audition, made one of the first tapes I played non-stop, continuously transferring the record back and forth between my boombox and my walkman. It got to the point where my younger brother also became an uber-fan, eventually receiving a copy of Spice World, the group’s 1997 biopic-slash-ode to the Beatles’ Hard Days Night.

For Broadly, Sirin Kale perfectly illustrates the film’s appeal to a generation of adolescents who were struck by the Spice Girls’ inherent coolness and fun vibes:

In 1997, the Spice Girls were cresting the Girl Power wave. I, an eight-year-old weirdo in platform trainers with an imaginary boyfriend, revered the five-piece with a doglike devotion (except Geri—more on that later). The Spice Girls were my childhood soundtrack and the object of all my worldly ambitions. To quote Mel C’s well-received 1999 solo offering, they were my northern star.

Kale delves into the backstory of the film’s production, including an ever-changing script, persistent paparazzi (e.g. posing as a cow to snap a pic of the super-group), and an utterly absurd plot that involved bombs planted in the Spice Girls’ bus and an alien invasion.

Despite this, Tickner does have some fond memories of the shoot. Without him, the iconic alien invasion scene might have crash-landed. “For some reason, no one was addressing the problem of what the spaceship was going to be on set,” he explains. “Here was a very obvious prop in the script. An alien was going to come down in the spaceship. But the art department hadn’t been asked to make one.”

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