Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
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Monday, May 21, 2012

Magic Mike and the male stripper advantage

The latest issue of Entertainment Weekly has a big fold-out cover highlighting the male stars of the upcoming movie Magic Mike,which is about the world of male stripping. The main character is played by Channing Tatum,who happens to have been a male stripper at one point in his life and some of his experiences have been drawn upon for the screenplay.

In the interview that goes along with the cover,Tatum was asked if he was concerned about people respecting his acting abilities due to his past and he replied that no one cares about that,if you have talent. He even said if Meryl Streep had been a stripper,that wouldn't have been a big deal.

As much as I would like to believe that honestly made statement,the same standards simply don't exist. So far,Channing's extra special connection to his new film has gone under the radar of the censor happy folk but if this was a movie about female strippers and the lead actress had some real life experience in dancing on a pole,plenty of eyebrows would be raised and protests announced. Magic Mike,however,appears to be getting quite a bit of respect in some circles since Steven Soderbergh is the director and his art house credits help to raise the bar here:

The movie may well turn out to be a good one but I find it rather annoying that for men to be strippers on film,it's seen more as a power trip and/or a joke whereas women are usually depicted as being losers in every way for the same thing. Granted,a campy flick like Showgirls makes that image hard to ignore but why is it that something that is considered a negative for women being made a positive for men?

On the other hand,there are those in the audience who are happy to see more male nudity and any excuse for that is great in some quarters. Perhaps this is a way to mainstream that other inequality in Hollywood,where most of the leading men aren't as exposed as their leading ladies.

After all,if The Full Monty can become a Broadway musical that still gets performed in repertory companies today,maybe this is a sign of better things to come:

Then again,I can't help but think about what happened with the 1996 movie version of Striptease,based on Carl Hiaasen's humorous crime novel about a woman who had to resort to stripping to pay for legal counsel in a child custody case and gets tangled up with a lot of shady characters in the bargain.

The book was smart and funny,but the film was not and most of the promos for the film focused on Demi Moore's physique. Moore was happy to oblige in that department, showcasing her body as much as possible in the ads and TV appearances. Unfortunately,her good looks weren't enough to save a film saddled with a sloppy script and a buffet of overacting.

Striptease was a box office bomb,followed by bad reviews and several Golden Raspberry nominations(it won six of the seven it was up for). It's a shame that such a prime opportunity for a strong savvy and sexy fictional female to be presented on screen turned out to be a real bust:

So,you can see why I can't resist giving the side eye to Magic Mike. While folks can argue over whether a positive pop culture image of a stripper of either gender is something to promote,I don't think it's too much to ask that women at least get a bit of the respect that men do when playing similar characters on film or TV.

Perhaps this isn't the most serious subject to make a fuss about,however,it would be nice for gals to be in on the joke instead of being the punchline. Some guys have all the luck in this category,one way or another:

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