Whining Will: The Backlash Against Magic Mike
Recently I blogged here at The Buzz regarding the current upsurge (cue Beavis and Butt-head laugh here—“She said, Upsurge heh heh heh”) of erotic entertainment for women; using as a prime example the upcoming film “Magic Mike.” This motion picture, set to debut June 29, concerns the lives and careers of a group of male exotic dancers and is based on the real-life experiences of the film’s star, Channing Tatum.
In anticipation of seeing this film, which also stars Alex Pettyfer, True Blood’s Joe Manganiello , Matthew McConaughey, and Matt Bomer, I’ve been visiting message boards on the web that are devoted to the film; and while I’ve run in to really cool people that I’ve enjoyed getting to know (everyone from straight women and gay men looking forward to the movie, to a few straight men who support a woman’s need for her own erotic entertainment), I’ve also encountered some incredibly upset guys who see this film as a serious affront to men.
Some men cast shame upon any female viewer who dares to purchase a ticket to this ‘heinous’ film, saying that it objectifies men. Others accuse women—feminists in particular–of being hypocrites, in that they condemn men for watching porn and reading Playboy, but are more than willing to see a film in which the leading men of Hollywood doff their duds. Still others say that the film is biased and unrealistic, as it depicts all male strippers as active heterosexuals.
Wow, Ladies, I didn’t know that we were so very awful for wanting to see a movie, did you? Maybe we should all follow stereotype instead and take in a showing of How to Think Like a Man When You’re Expecting or whatever the latest super hit chick flick happens to be.
Yeah, OK, I’m a little hot right now and not in a good way; so let me address each of these objections one at a time.
As an active lifelong feminist, I’ve always been far more concerned with those instances of rape, sexual harassment and domestic violence that occur in real life, as opposed to whatever occurs on a TV or movie screen. I’m strongly anti-censorship; the way that I see it, if I see something I don’t like I can make the choice not to watch—and, better yet, I can write a story or script that reflects what I do like, then get it out there for everyone to see.
I honestly don’t know of any women who organized protests upon the release of flicks like Showgirls (although that film did depict a rape, and a graphic one), Striptease, etc. I do know of women who express offense at the numerous torture films that have been released in recent years—when you take a film that shows long and explicit rape scenes (re: I Spit On Your Grave, Chaos, Martyrs, and too many others to mention) or perhaps even simulated child sex abuse (re: A Serbian Film), how do you possibly compare that to a film in which willing adult males put on a dance show for a group of equally willing women?
I also find it most interesting that these guys will object to a film like Magic Mike before they protest a film like Basic Instinct or Body Heat—in which scheming femmes fatale actually killed or plotted to kill hapless male characters. Perhaps the heroines’ incredible hotness made up for their violent manipulation of men?
And as far as the charge that the film is homophobic; well, I’m all in favor of diversity in casting when it comes to any genre of any motion picture. Yet speaking as someone who has dated several male strippers and known tons of others who were married or had girlfriends, the concept of the gay male stripper is a stereotype all its own. C’mon Ladies, we know the drill; whenever we as teen-agers expressed interest in a screen or musical heart throb, we each had a male buddy or a boyfriend who tried to ruin the fantasy by saying, “He’s gay!” This is not because they supported gay rights per se, but they felt threatened by the concept of a woman asserting her desire, having a crush on someone who might be more physically attractive or in shape than they are. And while they may be correct, in the instance of a George Michael or Ricky Martin (not exotic dancers but sexy hoofers, all the same), in other cases they would not be, in the case of mainstream actors such as Channing Tatum, Mark Consuelos, adult actors such as Marcus London, Niko and Charles Dera—all former strippers who seem excruciatingly straight.
I know that not all men are like those protesting the release of Magic Mike; but to those who are, I have some suggestions for you. First and foremost, if you’re really interested in ending onscreen objectification in all its forms, then think twice before renting a torture porn horror flick or violent porno. And if you really want to build up a young man, become a Big Brother or a mentor—if you want to support families in general, volunteer at a domestic violence or homeless shelter.
Now leave us alone and let us enjoy our blasted male stripper movie—because that’s what we plan to do anyway.