I did it. I finally acquiesced to a combination of cultural pressure and my own personal movie mania and saw "Magic Mike." I wasn't going to do it; I'd seen the trailers and I figured that if I wanted to see beautiful men take their clothes off, I could stay at home and watch porn. Why, I asked myself, should I get all hot and bothered in a theater with the general public when I could see the whole enchilada, and quite a bit more, in the comfort of my own home? I'd also heard that audiences have been whooping, hooting, and cat-calling during the strip/dance numbers, and I could hardly think of a movie-going experience that might appeal to me less. But the all-around positive feedback that the film has been getting coupled with the fact that it had been directed by Steven Soderbergh, an interesting and thoroughly thoughtful filmmaker, piqued my cinematic curiosity.
What I saw was a provocative and measured testament to the increasing elusiveness of the American dream, and the demoralizing lengths that average Joes (though these Joes are anything but average) might go to in order to achieve the piece of the pie that had been promised them. Of course, the table-turning, gender-bending centerpiece of the film being that men are the objectified pieces of meat paraded in front of a predatory female audience might be interesting enough in itself, but what I found most compelling was the cautionary implication of the human cost of a failed capitalist system.
Only a few generations ago these very same rippled and gyrating hunks might've been trying to get in good favor with their construction site managers so they might make some headway with their local labor unions. Or they might've been driving cabs, or slinging burgers behind a grill in order to pay their way through school. In his fleshly and exhilarating attestation to the plight of the (not so) common man, Soderburgh demonstrates the need for the average guy to not only juggle numerous jobs, but also to prostitute himself simply to get by. It's not surprising that there's such excessive drinking and drug taking in this movie; who wants to deal with this kind of a reality?
In this current recession, amidst continued threats of union busting, increased tuition costs for higher education, and drastic cuts to social services, is it any wonder that the men of "Magic Mike" bare their oh-so-smooth and muscular asses for crumpled, estrogen-sweat-drenched bills? No, not at all. The only question that remains is, what's an average Joe supposed to do if he really is average, or if, heaven forbid, he can't afford a gym membership?