Friday Film Review: Nine to Five

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Here we are!  This is my last post on this blog, and I’m very excited that I’m reviewing Nine to Five for it.

First off, if you’re one of those people that, for some inexplicable reason, do not like Dolly Parton, I don’t even know what to say to you.  Shit like that breaks my heart.  She is literally everything that is amazing about Nashville.

This movie revolves around three women working in an office.  Judy (Jane Fonda), a newly divorced lady, has snagged a new job at the office and is working/being trained by Violet (Lily Tomlin), a widow and mother of four kids.  There is also Doralee (Dolly Parton), the sassy personal assistant to the boss, Frank Hart (Dabney Coleman).  The movie is about sexism (and, if you’re paying close attention, racism, ableism, and ageism) and Frank is pretty much just one of the worst bosses around.  He only hires [young/pretty] women, and rules them like slaves from 9-5.

On a technical aspect, there’s nothing that really stands out to me with the film.  It’s a pretty straightforward 80s film.  I liked the opening sequence, because they focused on everyone’s shoes, and all the women had to wear heels as part of workplace attire.  And anyone who’s ever worn heels, you know, it’s kind of the worst thing ever when you have to do it for more than a couple of hours.  And just from looking at the sequence, about half the people looked like women going to work – so a lot.  The women looked stressed, they are getting their kids to school, and they are rushing off to barely make it to work on time, all the while, Parton’s “Nine to Five” song plays in the background, and clearly lays out everything we are about to see.  There’s also a weird murder fantasy sequence, that’s hilarious, as a result of the girls smoking pot (and, most importantly, bonding).

In some ways, this film is mind-blowingly revolutionary.  I’ve seen plenty of films that take a really close look at sexism in everyday life, but not a lot of mainstream ones.  They are few, and very far, between.  Even now, I see movies that aren’t a whole lot different than movies during times where people claim “things were different.”  Hell, it’s rare to have a film starring women, even now.  Ask any Hollywood producer, or a female director – female-lead films are something they hate touching.  So, if you’re afraid of watching this movie because you think it might be boring or a “chick flick,” go away, I don’t want to talk to you.  This film was awesome.

And in other ways, this film shows how far we’ve actually come (it’s not very far).  I worked for YEARS in offices, and dealt with a lot of the same stuff these girls dealt with.  I’ve been sexually harassed.  I’ve been verbally abused.  I’ve trained people to move up over me.  I’ve created projects that my boss took credit for, including materials that went national.  And I’ve been denied promotions, even when they were promised to me, and even though I might have trained everyone in that department, and wrote their training manual.  It hurts.  My feelings actually hurt FOR the characters in the movie.  Because it’s still there.  Maybe it’s less likely for some of the things in the film (at least without repercussions) but it’s all still there, looming over anyone who isn’t a straight white guy.

Then there’s Doralee.  Her character comments on the all too familiar thing girls tend to deal with – sex-based gossip.  She tells her husband, “I’m as nice as I know how to be to every single person down at that office.  Everybody treats me like a bastard at a family reunion.”  Doralee, girl, I can relate.  And she IS one of the sweetest sounding people ever.  So people assume she’s a whore and dumb.  But we, as an audience get to see all the gossip before we really meet her, and with her tight sweater and fluffy blond hair, I know some probably made knee-jerk judgements.  Actually, when Judy first meets Doralee, she subtly touches her own breasts in a weird, judgmental, yet self-conscious gesture.  I’ve actually seen people do that with me (hey, I’ve knocked things over in stores with my knockers, so I’m hyper aware of people’s reactions to my chest).  It was like, a genius thing.  I don’t know if that was a writing thing, or a Fonda thing, but it was beautiful.

All the actors were amazing.  Tomlin is one of my all-time favorites, and she just shined in this role.  She’s intelligent, independent, strong, and yes, just a little crazy.  She shows that even the most level-headed people will snap after a while.  And she’s pretty level-headed.  She can take just about anything in stride, shown by the scene where she’s taking calls, and without skipping a beat, is able to navigate her children’s arguments via a phone call in the midst of madness.

My only criticism of this film is Judy’s character.  I feel like she was the main character, but was the least developed.  It was like, “oh, her hubby left her for a secretary so now she hates secretaries.  Oh, now they are friends, she was wrong about all of them, okay bye.”  They could have done better.  Fonda is a great actor.

Now, as for the boss, I’m not going to really go into that.  Watch the movie, it’s pretty obvious.  He’s a very 2-dimensional character that serves a purpose beyond the actual character.  We don’t need him to be a person.  Women are so flat in movies most of the time, that making him flat was a statement in itself.  The only big difference, is that society doesn’t notice that female characters are flat, that they are only defined by their romantic relationships (or lack thereof), by having/not having children, and most importantly, by their bodies.  They are not making a statement by doing this.  They do this to spotlight the male characters.  I wonder why rape culture is so prevalent?

I did mention very briefly that this film also alludes to other unresolved human rights’ issues.  While they don’t state anything outright, because they are only dealing with WHITE feminism, they still note it.  We see African Americans unable to advance, and when things “change” in the movie, you should notice that there was a lack of diversity in many ways.  You don’t notice, until it’s there/not there anymore.

So, if you are one of those people that don’t believe everyone should be paid equally for the same work, and be afforded dignity with their occupations, AND you see this movie – you are just an asshole.  Because your arguments are idiotic, and they were the same arguments they used to argue against anti-sexual harassment, healthcare, overtime, childcare, etc.  It’s frustrating.  People like that frustrate me.  And hurt my feelings.  I get lots of hurt feelings.

But seriously, watch this movie.  It’s fun, it’s funny, and it’s an easy movie to watch.

Favorite Line:
“And if I wanna have an affair, or play sex games, or do M&M’s, you can’t stop me!” – Judy

Favorite Scene:
I really like the scene where Frank is pursuing Doralee in the office.  It’s the first time I’ve seen a scene like that in a movie, and didn’t get intense anxiety.  Because Doralee is the most calming character with a gun I’ve ever seen.

IMDB Stats:
Director: Colin Higgins
Year: 1980
Rating: PG (although, it’s like, old-school PG – there is a lot of naughty language, and like, drug-use, so if your kids aren’t used to that, proceed with caution)

Currently streaming on Netflix.

That’s all folks!  I’ve enjoyed writing for you all, and I’m even more excited for all the things that I’ve got going for the future.  Happy blogging!

xo – Meg

 

“Leave me alone, I’m reading”

I’m so irritated today, so irritated, that I’m pretty sure I have a psychotic smile on my face.  That’s how bad it is.  Laughably bad.  Irritated by things that don’t matter, and some that do.

But one of the things that kind of just pushed me over the edge happened at the dentist today.

At first, I was happy because I had a new hygienist, and it was nice because she didn’t lecture me on the importance of having children (which, by the way, Zach doesn’t get this lecture) and how being a mom is the bestest thing ever, unless you have a daughter, and it becomes awful because she will turn into a mouthy little slut.  I kind of wish I was exaggerating, but I’m not.  The last hygienist I had complained about her daughter being sinful with her boyfriend, and maybe being around too many gay people THE ENTIRE TIME.  She took like 45 minutes cleaning my teeth because she spent so much time freaking out about this.  And while sometimes I might dress like an elderly woman, and while my music tastes reflect that of someone in their 90s, I don’t give any shits about teenagers doing teenager-y things.  If it’s not on my lawn, I don’t care.  And as a personal philosophy, I am judging a parent SO HARD if they put moral judgments and conditional love on their kids.  SO HARD ARE MY JUDGMENTS.

So the new lady was awesome and talked about her dogs the whole time and how much fun it is to sleep.  My kind of person.

But after my appointment I had to wait for Zach to finish his.  So I brought The Sound and the Fury to read while I waited.  It was fine until this guy, middle-aged, came in and said,

“Wow, The Sound and the Fury.  Classic.”

I nodded politely and went back to reading.

Like the asshole he ended up being, he went on,

“Are you reading that for school, or for pleasure?”

“Pleasure.”  I continued reading.

I know I’m spoiling things, but like the biggest asshole ever, he continued,

“Wow, I don’t ever see girls like you and your age reading books like that.  All girls your age just have their faces in their phones.  I see all the girls at high school wandering around staring at their phones all day.  That’s all they do.”

Looking at him appalled, and also wondering how old he thinks I am.  He continues:

“I don’t want you to get offended by this, but this is true:  This is better than an IUD (pulls out phone).  Honestly!  Girls would rather be on their phones than have sex.  Pretty soon, the Pope will be recommending them.  Don’t you agree?”

At this point, I’m beyond anywhere near my comfort zone, in fact I’ve lost all semblance of any grounding.  I continued to read and tried my best to ignore him.

I’m honestly not blowing this out of proportion.  In fact, I left out all the creepy body language, and most of what he said, because it mostly was just offensive and implied I was a teenage girl.  I’m pushing 30!

When Zach was finally done, I told him the exchange, and he was appalled, but also surprised I didn’t blow up at the guy.  I asked, “What was I supposed to do?  Tell him he’s being a sexist asshole and to stop talking to me?  Because then I’d be ‘making a scene’ in the office and people would think it was me being rude.”

It wasn’t like the guy was blatantly trying to be awful.  And I guarantee every girl has a story like this one.  I have a million more.  Some guy will seemingly be friendly, and totally be a creep in an underhanded way, and there’s nothing you can do.  This happened ALL THE TIME when I was a teenager, but I never understood why I was uncomfortable.

Unfortunately, when people treat me like this, I still don’t know what to do.  “Family” members do this.  The last family wedding I went to, this happened.  But what am I supposed to do?  Everyone writes off my complaints as, “that’s just the way he is/he doesn’t mean anything by it.”

Well you know what?  It’s unacceptable.  I should haven’t to worry about a creepy uncle coming at me with disgusting and inappropriate comments about my mind or body, just because he’s been a creepy asshole forever.  You know why he’s a creepy asshole?  No one told him to stop.  And everyone told anyone who complained that it was fine that he was like that.

If this was an isolated event, I’d be pissed, but I would ultimately brush it off.  But this isn’t isolated.  I’ve had to put up with this shit my whole life.  And today was so blatant and obvious that it kind of hurt my feelings a little bit.  That’s it.  It hurt my feelings.  It hurt for someone to imply that because I was young (apparently I have a calling in undercover work at high schools) and pretty, that it was a miracle I was reading a “real” book.  It hurt my feelings that he was talking about women’s bodies like something that needed to be controlled, like sex is something bad, it’s the teenage girl’s “fault” for getting pregnant, and luckily girls are so dumb and shallow they won’t have sex.  It hurts.  And for some reason, there’s definitely a weird psychological thing that happens when an older person talks down to me, like I don’t have the right to stand up for myself.

So when someone is so hurtful, even though he’s smiling and laughing like it’s all lighthearted, like it’s no big deal, it’s hard to find that voice inside myself to say, “Stop.  You’re an awful human being.  Leave my sight immediately.”

Because this is normal.  This is so so normal.  But it’s not right!

I mean, eventually, I WILL become an elderly woman, and I won’t have a problem saying what’s on my mind, because elderly people are awesome like that.  Until then, I guess I need to work up the courage to politely tell people off.  I’m sure there’s a WikiHow tutorial, if not, I will dedicate years of research and figure out how to do it.

So FYI, after a quick search, my favorite thing was on reddit and my favorite response was: “I ask you to slowly and carefully go fuck yourself.”

That may be not helpful, but it gave me a chuckle.  And that will definitely be my response when I’m old, and knitting.

Until next time.