by Heinrich Domingo
A film which sexually objectifies male strippers has the potential of reversing the patriarchal norm. Yet, its makers decided to stay where it is safe – in a place where macho image is more important than gender discussion.
Magic Mike XXL initially starts with a clear sequence of events. The Kings of Tampa will be performing their last dance routine in a stripping convention in Myrtle Beach. As simple as that. The aim is to show more of the boys’ bodies and to sexualize them and emphasize their crotches as the world has never seen before. Everything was going well.
Except that, as the story progresses, the audience feels that everything is familiar. The film has been in constant allusion to its prequel as the script drags back the crowd to the year 2012.
To compensate the seemingly similar plot, the production decided to add sexier dance routines and hungrier cougars. For them, this would cover the story’s lack of originality. Unknowingly, the movie makes women as dependent beings who see themselves incomplete without a man. It abandons its ability to pose revolutionary stances on gender equality.
From this on, Magic Mike XXL struggles to look for coherence. The insertion of the dance scenes is forced and awkward. The unbelievable van accident, the too lucky search for an emcee, and the scripted meeting with cougars, showed the unsuccessful attempt of the filmmakers to salvage what is left of the storyline. At this point, there is none.
One apparent mistake in the film is the absence of a clear backstory that could explain The Kings of Tampa’s decision to embark in a journey. Magic Mike (2012) included issues of drugs, financial problem, and romantic relationships as the backbone of the story. This one merely suggests the plot to close old wounds.
From time to time, viewers would hear references of feminism. Magic Mike’s god is a she, the group’s emcee is an empowered woman who says “are you (women audience) not tired of being called good?”, and women are required to be loved. Yet, they appear to be lost in the jungle of male dominance.
It is entertaining to see a movie about male strippers grinding their gym-built bodies. Yet, cinema isn’t about pleasing the superficial demands of the crowd, rather, it is about entertainment with value.
It is saddening that it is only seldom we see movies with the chance to call for a role reversal. But, it is sadder that with Magic Mike XXL’s wide women fanbase, the film offer little to no effort in changing the paradigm of gender roles.
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