Buying a ticket as a single man for a film where everyone knows the theme is male exotic dancers and plenty of armadillo-in-your-trousers jokes in a town that thinks a blue scarf is the universally-recognized symbol for “I prefer men” is not as bad as you think.
Because even the regularly dazed-over attendants who work at the theatre know something is different about Stephen Soderbergh’s Magic Mike.
Sure, the audience—made up of Rockstar-energy-guzzling 4-wheeler drivers accompanying their hair-stylist girlfriends and middle-aged women with Snooki bumps on a “night out”—make up the bread and butter of your Mitt Romney Americans. But from the very first slam when Channing Tatum’s “Mike” (a stripper who dances to save up money for a small business loan for his custom-made furniture company) not-so-covertly slams the banks—rather than the federal government’s bailout—to a stubborn loan officer, you can start hearing the straw-sucking on the 40-ounce Diet Pepsis becoming increasingly prescient: wait, this guy sounds like those dirty liberals Rush talks about!!
And it gets better. Here’s the liberal ideology of Magic Mike:
1) Economics: Our protagonist is like a David Plouffe wet dream. Magic Mike (played by Hulk-like specimen Channing Tatum) is a white, working class male who belongs to the local construction union, works hard, parties like a frat boy on steroids, and bitches about big banks and slimy “job creators” like a stereotypically pointy-headed, east-coast, college labor professor calling into Hannity. When his foreman supplants lost labor with non-union guys who trip over the shingles on the roof and steal from the food truck, Mike lashes out. And when the bank officer who purchases her jewelry from Target can’t cough up a small loan to Mike, he makes the aforementioned parting shot impossible to miss about miscreant banks controlling both his and her fates. Basically, as far as the American Dream goes, this is not your average supply-side rodeo clown.
2) Sexual politics. Strangely, stripper and prostitute films are dependably conservative.Striptease and Show Girls routinely reaffirms the stereotype that sex-for-money, or even just sex-for-show is somehow fundamentally flawed, women are objects of lust, and the moral police are sent in to confiscate all the fun. But, Magic Mike, with its bawdy muscular-men-dressed-as-firefighter scenes and unquestionable comfortability with males (and their, ahem, axes) becoming the object of sexual gazing (and all the dance of power and vulnerability that goes along with it), upends the genre in the same waylast summer’sBridesmaid revealed shockingly that women like dirty jokes, too.
3) Climate Change. The Hurricane Partyat head stripper Dallas’ home on the Tampa coast (marking the second time this year this blog has encountered Matthew McConaughey) is a subtle reminder to the ever-omniscient presence of extreme weather in our climate. Basically, the message here is we keep partying while we boil the world into a tempest.
4) Ivory Tower. While lightly based on Tatum’s experiences as a stripper, the script was written and produced by one of those Harvard-educated elites.
So, basically, Fox News missed it y’all. Because Magic Mike is obviously the most liberal blockbuster since Avatar did a nice double-take-down on plutocrats and Manifest Destiny on planet Pandora in the Alpha Centari district or whatever.
And it’s actually quite refreshing. Because in a post-Citizens United world, where the wealth of CEOs can only be matched by the manipulative efforts of the creative class (traditionally wildly liberal, sans your ever-so-often Burt Reynolds, SNL album Victoria Jackson,and Ayn Rand—who makes a good sex scene so whatev), this kind of film is a necessary bulwark.
And I’m not talking Woody Allen or Steven Spielberg like boycotting the Chinese Olympics or something. In fact, notable blockbuster films of last few years—Transformers, Hunger Games, Twilight—are at least optically coming off as anti-the-black-guy-in-the-White-House, anti-big government, and anti-feminine (no hyperlink necessary).
Liberal Hollywood needs to flex its muscle in the seats for the big-ticket films. Meet the enemy face to face. And my guess is that a lot of hockey moms who toss off references to “death panels” while cutting the summer salad will be in the audience when the lone spotlight flashes on the guy in the trench coat on the edge of the catwalk in the fictional Xquisite of Tampa strip club. Which is another way of saying a healthy two-party democratic electorate may just be dependent upon Matthew McConaughey in a cowboy hat and G-string covered in glitter.