South Park Self

bump and grind

So, Jo and I had one of those Girly Movie Evenings last week, wherein, in the absence of stv, we watched Magic Mike. I am compelled to admit that, on the evidence, we probably don't get this Girly thing in the terms in which we possibly should. Because there we were: us girls together, a movie about male strippers, a bottle of wine, appropriately phallic hot dogs for supper, a general predisposition to giggle, and a completely unblushing tendency to pause the movie frequently at precise psychological moments in order to ... seriously discuss the implications for gender politics in the scene. As in:

"Gosh, the body language is interesting..."
"Yes, watch the women: open mouths, hands over mouths. They're shocked at themselves, caught doing something they shouldn't. Totally different to men at a strip show."
"It's still about male sexual dominance. Look at how often they use the women in the audience as props."
"I don't find them attractive. Should I be finding them attractive?"
"They're still filmed like sex objects."
"It's not about the sex. This is a sad movie."
"Millennial generation, it's all about drifting without meaning."
"Stripping is actually just a metaphor for empty display."

I found it very odd to watch: the cultural coding of almost naked men on display for a female gaze is radically different to that of men watching women strip. (We conducted further research by digging up clips from a bunch more male stripper movies, and they're all pretty much the same). It's not actually subversive of a gender paradigm in any way, because there is a clear sense in which the male stripper is getting off on the attention: that is, he's a subjectivity more than he's an object. As Jo pointed out, he has none of the subtext of shame which attaches to a woman in the same position, and a very clear sense that attention paid to his sexual flaunting is somehow his right. (Which is probably why I am profoundly not turned on by the display). The ramifications of this in the overall plot, and the development of the character called the Kid, were bloody terrifying.

Charming Potato, however, is moderately endearing in the actual story part of the lead role, and he's clearly a dancer - he moves beautifully. Matthew McConaughey made my skin crawl, as did the character development of the Kid. But it's not a bad film.
Gender politics aside, I thought Magic Mike was disappointing (although the Kid was kinda sexy).

I've developed a grudging respect for McConaughey (besides the fact he's in pretty good shape for a man aged 40-something :-) ). He did "greasy" in Magic Mike exceptionally well. I saw "Killer Joe" recently, which saw him greasy AND scary (and was nicely dark and twisted). Tomorrow I'm off to see "Mud" (, which has had pretty good reviews and been described as a coming-of-age film with a Mark Twain "Huckleberry Finn" feel to it, so I'm expecting good things.

I tend to agree on the disappointing bit - not a bad film, but not a great one. I have to disagree on the Kid, though - creepy little self-absorbed drifty type. Made me want to thump him. Possibly way too much like the more narcissistic students I have to deal with...

McConaughey went through a period of terrible movies, but seems to be on the up, which is nice to see. He was truly horrible in that role, as in it was a horrible character he portrayed brilliantly ;>.
Aah I see. Yes, he did "horrible" really well. :-)

So "Mud" turned out to be a nice little indie film about an adventure that two boys have. Impressive acting from the teenage boys (ably assisted by McConaughey and also Reese Witherspoon). The photography was the unspoken hero though - nice languid shots of the river, the swamp, and the open skies. Worth catching if it comes to any cinema there.
One of my first gigs as a reporter for the local student rag, a loooong time ago now, was reviewing a male stripper. Horrible experience, for all the reasons you mention above - I felt exploited and dirty. And incensed, by the end of it. All the women around me seemed to be trying just a little too hard to show what a fabulous time they were having.
Yes, exactly that! women stripping are being exploited. Women watching men stripping are also being exploited. You can feel patriarchal culture closing around you like a steel trap.