Monday, July 2, 2012

SM Johnson ~Bloody Monday~ Magic Mike

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We're going with pop culture today, rather than dark fiction.

The darkest thing about the film, Magic Mike, is the strip club when the lights are out.

The circles I run in (virtually and in the real world) are all talking about Magic Mike. The gay boys, the m/m erotica writers, the consumers of "mommy porn."
Kind of interesting how women enjoying their sexuality is suddenly okay.

E.L. James Fifty Shades books are hit best-sellers - women are reading them in public - not only secretly on their Kindles and Nooks, but reading the paperbacks on the bus, the subway, and even at work. Perhaps with a nick of embarrassment, but for the most part completely without shame.

Now wait a minute. This is all wrong.

Women who enjoy sex are sluts and whores and prostitutes. Trashy tramps out to steal the men who have been brow-beaten and stomped to the ground by their frigid good-girl wives. Sex is a weapon, a reward, a measure of control.We're supposed to tolerate sex, not enjoy it.

What is the world coming to? First gay marriage, and now women holding up their sexuality, out and proud, drooling over hot men dancing and taking their clothes off.

Ooh-la-la. I kind of like it.

All right, so let me tell you about Magic Mike, the movie. I'm not much of a movie critic, so consider this more of an op/ed piece.

I watch very little TV, and very few movies, but it's hard to pass up a movie date with the girls when the temperature is upwards of 90 degrees. Or at least feels like 90 degrees to this northern WI girl. Darkness. Air conditioning. Butter-soaked popcorn. And almost-naked men.

The "scenery" in Magic Mike was stellar. No complaints.

The story itself, however, was pretty thin. 10% romance and 90% "bromance." Lots of hot straight boys touching and hugging and staring deeply into the eyes of other hot straight boys. I have absolutely no problem with this, BTW. I love it. I'm the original "OMG, I love Vin Diesel and Paul Walker in The Fast and the Furious" girl. Mmm, honey. I am good with the bromance. But it was a little much, even for me. Just on the scale of plausibility, really.

Actually, there were a lot of plausibility issues in this film for me. I guess, as a woman, I'm supposed to be rendered stupid, speechless, and thoughtless because of the man candy.

Yeah, okay.

The characters:

Image from Just Jared
Magic Mike (Channing Tatum) is a man of many talents and a whole lot of energy, despite the fact that his 20s are behind him.

He has an auto-detailing business, although we never see him detailing any automobiles. He's a construction worker by day. He's a male stripper Thursday through Sunday nights.

And he makes cool furniture from objects he scavenges on the beach.

Magic Mike apparently rarely sleeps.

His dream is to make the furniture business his full-time gig. In fact, he's been saving his stripper dollars for 6 years in hopes of having a reasonable down payment on a business loan, which he can't get otherwise because his credit is crap. Actually, even with a $13,000 down payment, he can't seem to get a loan at all. One loan officer suggests that he spend a few years improving his credit score, but Magic Mike apparently hates credit. (I hear ya, dude. Our policy is that if we don't have the cash, we don't buy it).

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I have to say that again there's a believe-ability issue here. Mike lives in an awesome house right on the beach. He drives a beautiful, brand-new gas-guzzling black truck, with the factory plastic sheeting still covering the dashboard and instrument panel, so it "stays new." He also owns, as I mentioned, a truck or van for the auto detailing business. This is not a guy who's pinching his pennies (or dollar bills, in this case).

And, um, well. When I was building credit, I bought a car with a loan from my credit union and made payments every month until it was paid off. Not a gas-guzzling truck, mind you, but a nice fuel-efficient little car. So why isn't Mike building credit with his shiny black truck?
All right, so a little reality interfering with my fantasy.
It's all right. I can get over it.

Image from The Film Stage
Next character, Adam "the Kid" (Alex Pettyfer).

Adam is a 19 year old who lost his football scholarship because of drug and alcohol use. He's living with his sister, Brooke (Cody Horn), and looking for work, but not having much luck.

Two things: A) he doesn't really look like a football player. But I don't watch football, so maybe it's just me.

B) the thickness of his beard changed, sometimes noticeably, from scene to scene. I know, I was supposed to be staring at his pecs and imagining his pecker, not noticing his facial hair growth. My bad.

Mike and Adam's relationship (bromance) is totally baffling. They meet on the construction site, where Adam doesn't know anything about construction, including the importance of steel-toed boots. No way would any foreman allow a guy on a job site without the proper attire. Talk about liability. But anyway. The foreman lets Adam work anyway. Mike and Adam work together on a Spanish-style tiled roof for one day, until Adam gets fired for taking an extra Pepsi out of the cooler.

Mike obviously doesn't think much of Adam. But even so, when he runs into Adam later that night outside a club, Mike gets the Kid in, even though Adam again blows the dress code, wearing a hoodie and sneakers.

Sigh. I don't know.

Mike tells Adam to warm up to a girl in the club celebrating her 21st birthday, and Adam manages to do this. Then Mike swoops in and invites the girl and her whole party to a hot Male Review strip show.

Honestly? It doesn't even seem like Mike likes Adam - he sort of has a huge disdain for the Kid - so the whole "Mike takes Adam under his wing and brings him into the male stripper business" doesn't even make sense. But somehow they become instant best friends.

Mike has no motivation to engage with Adam in this way. I mean, he hasn't even met Adam's sister (Mike's real love interest) yet.
The final character I'm going to talk about is Dallas (Matthew McConaughey). Not because the character was stellar, but because, let's face it, most of the women going to this movie are going to see Matthew's naked butt.

Dallas owns the male strip club in Tampa. He doesn't dance anymore, but he dresses like a male stripper, and he warms up the female patrons with charismatic patter and a sort of carnival-game "Carnie" persona. He's high energy and looking good, but often he's actually somewhat smarmy.

His goal is to close the deal on some real estate and move the whole shit and sha-bang to Miami, and make some real money. The character is good, in kind of a hot-but-creepy Johnny Depp kind of way. Definitely he's a performer. And he  looks damn good wearing almost naked.

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Dallas has some pretty specific goals. So again, my plausibility meter jacks itself up, wondering why Dallas, who seems pretty ambitious, would risk his club, his livelihood, and his dream... not just by employing a 19 year old (originally hired to to manage the dancers' props), but then allowing said 19 year old to dance, drink, and drug in the club.

C-c-c-crazy. There was a bunch of drug-dealing going on with the employees of the club. It wasn't altogether clear to me if Dallas was in on it, approved it, or even ran that operation, as a sideline - but Magic Mike knew about it, and the Kid got involved, and that part of things went bad, bad, bad. And actually, I thought that part of the plot-line was pretty decent.

Finally (finally!)... the Bromance:

I mentioned 90% bromance, right? Because you know that being the highly sexualized females that we are, we just can't get enough of boys touching boys.

image from Breitbart
It may sound like I'm being tongue-in-cheek, but in reference to myself, personally, this is an absolutely true statement. The part of my writer's brain that's intrigued with m/m erotica is whispering, "So the new guy joins the all-male practically naked dancing group, and, and, and...."

But I am liberal. And I am a GLBT ally, and in some respects I consider myself queer. I love being voyeur to a little male-on-male action. Anyway, my point is that, compared to a lot of other people, I am a little off.

So I found the touchy-feely stuff in this movie to be pretty great.

Whether on stage, in rehearsal, or just standing around bullshitting, these boys are so confident in their masculinity that they have no physical boundaries whatsoever.

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When Dallas was showing the Kid how to dance, he got behind the kid, snugged up right against him, and held his hips to demonstrate the wiggle and thrust. It was hysterical. Would have been even hotter if Dallas hadn't been dressed like Richard Simmons.

The funny thing is, even if this were a gay movie (it's not) there is A LOT of long serious looks, neck clasping, manly hugging, and pelvis thrusting.

The dancing is wonderful - hot choreography and fabulous male stripper costumes that disappear with a quick tug.

Notice the lack of personal space? Whenever these guys talk, they get all nice and cozy with one another - which, you know, might be normal in a club with loud music, but is not all that normal in general conversation under more regular circumstances. But these guys are really comfortable with one another, and extra-super affectionate.

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All right - so, do I recommend this movie?

Sure, if you're looking for a some hot male eye-candy, awesome dance/strip routines (I wish there had been more of them, and longer ones!) and are willing to suspend common sense here and there.

It's a lovely way to have a great night out with the girls. And maybe even arrive home ready for a  bedroom rendezvous with the husband.

What's not to like about that?

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