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Moviegoers Shed Different Lights on 'Showgirls' : What Does Film Say About Us?

October 02, 1995|CARIE J. DELMAR | Carie J. Delmar is a free-lance writer specializing in entertainment and education. She holds degrees in theater arts and psychology and has worked as a reporter and publicist in the fields of entertainment, politics and education. She has also been a teacher and school counselor

It was a third date with a man I thought was family-oriented, moral-minded and had high values. He wanted to see "Showgirls," he said, wanted to see what all the fuss was about.

Naive as I was, I thought that the film (rated NC-17) would contain a limited amount of nudity with some suggestive dancing. Sounded like fun, I thought.

Boy, was I wrong! After just 30 minutes I was ready to leave. But I didn't. After all, I was with a date and didn't want to make a scene.

After the movie was over, the women in the restroom looked like they had been to a funeral.

"What a detrimental film for women," I said to my date as we left the theater.

"You mean you think that it's exploitive?" he asked.

"It's really a lot more," I commented.

My date went on to assert that the film would launch Elizabeth Berkley's career, that he thought she's an excellent actress because, after all, most accomplished actresses can dance as well as act. "The dancers in that movie really have good bodies," he said. "They must really work hard to maintain them."

Well, let me say what I couldn't bring myself to tell my former date: The movie is an outrage, just a hair short of pornography. What is it doing in a reputable neighborhood movie theater?

The acting is poor. There is a minimal amount of true dancing. The emphasis is solely on sex and sleaze.

My date was probably right on one of his perceptions, however: The movie is about much more than showgirls in Las Vegas. Without talking directly to writer Joe Eszterhas and director Paul Verhoeven, one could conclude that the film is an attempt to mirror society. And what a sad comment on society it is. What has happened to the virtues of love, kindness and compassion?

*

This is not the sexually permissive 1960s. I thought that the AIDS-ridden '90s have taught us to strengthen our values, to seek friendships and sexual relationships that are safe, loving and long-lasting. And, finally, I thought that the '90s have taught us to respect each other.

Well, this movie is totally contrary to everything that we, as individuals, have been striving for. It is extremely detrimental to women's quest for an equal, respected place in society. I never believed in censorship before, but after viewing this film, I suddenly find a place for its merits.

After seeing a movie like this, I have to ask, where are the politicians now, those who preach in favor of family values and espouse that they oppose sex and violence in Hollywood filmmaking? And where are the representatives of women's organizations who are continually fighting for the rights of women?

Yes, this film is much more far-reaching than it outwardly appears. It is our duty as human beings to address its abuses.

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