In the Blog
Magic Mike Likes It Big
Photo via The A.V. Club
Just watched Magic Mike XXL with my bestie, and have to say that I was very disappointed. The plot was very weak, loose and didn’t follow that well. The film’s only redeeming qualities were the gorgeous men dancing and taking their clothes off. Sex sells and this time, refreshingly, men are the focus. The movie opens with Channing Tatum working in his tool shed, and eventually breaking out into a seriously hot number that reminded him of his stripping days. Chainsaws were never sexier.
I couldn’t for the life of me explain or justify what happens in the film during the parts where there aren’t sexy men dancing for a crowd, but I did think to myself as I left the theatre that big women were quite the focus of the film and perhaps even inspired the title. Throughout the film, I noticed big women making appearances—in line to get into the clubs with their friends, or sitting on the couches watching the acts, or dancing with their friends. It was as if they were commonplace, and yes, of course there are plus size women out there in the world, but they are rarely the focus of a mainstream Hollywood film. There is even a scene where this skinny blond white woman is eating red-velvet cake spooning it into her mouth from the entire tray completely unapologetically!
There was one scene that is permanently seared in my memory of this beautiful big bootylicious black woman sitting on a couch in the middle of a room surrounded by a throng of folks, getting her very own special treatment at the hands of a very pretty boy. He works with her body and plays with it teasingly seducing her and she is grinning from ear to ear loving every second of it. I watched that scene waiting for some suggestion of shame or insecurity on her part or some discriminatory behaviour from those watching but none came. It blew my mind and I realized how many plus-sized women would be watching this moment unfurl and how they would react. Would their panties get wet? Could they also start to love their bodies and accept themselves if they hadn’t yet? Would it give them hope for a society that isn’t fat-phobic especially towards women of colour? Would it challenge their notions of what is considered attractive? Would they start to consider themselves as desirable? Could utopia be attainable, in our hands and in the form of a reel that you can watch on screen?
I felt this was important to write about for Shameless because I wanted to draw attention to the notion of fat being hot, fat being desirable and completely accepted. It’s not easy being a fat body in this world due to stigma and discrimination based on body size, race, class and gender as well as what we compare and measure beauty to but I think the world is changing fast. Our attitudes towards fat folks are shifting, and constantly need to be examined and challenged to make it a safer and better world for everyone.
I also want to take a moment to draw attention to the gorgeous Jada Pinkett Smith who has an important role in the film. I have always found her stunning and was happy to see her playing the role that she did. As an aging actress and as a woman of colour, it’s easy to slip through the cracks in the film industry but she proved otherwise by handling her character like a pro, full of grace, humour and sensuality. Playing a madam, and an MC, Jada’s role in the film is revolutionary because it’s rare to see women in charge in the sex industry. And for Jada to take on the role helps unpack the stigma and shame of being in this line of work.
I am not saying that you should all run to the theatres and watch this film pronto but I know that Magic Mike XXL will likely be the prime choice for a lot of movie goers for obvious reasons and I wanted to add a little bit of layered analysis to what is otherwise a blur of the male-stripping industry.