Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Alien Working Girl

I enjoy watching old movies from time to time. Every week I read the TV Guide from cover to cover and circle the movies I haven't seen or would enjoy watching again. (By this, of course, I mean I program my TiVo.) But as I get older I'm noticing it's getting harder to watch classic movies without getting distracted by certain details, details completely irrelevant to the original plot.

Details the film makers probably never considered, or were chosen simply because they expressly did not want attention called to them, yet now they glow like neon. In some ways it adds a certain charm to a movie that could use a little something extra as it matures. (To which I can relate.)

I was reminded of this the other day watching "Working Girl" when I simply could not take my eyes off that hair. Made in 1988, I'm sure the intention wasn't to induce gasps of delight at every scene change. Was it?
Joan "crash helmet" Cusack shares a Hostess cupcake with
Melanie "is that a dead octopus on your head?" Griffith.
The transition of Tess' character over the course of the movie is an important plot theme, so there had to be somewhat of a contrast between the "administrative assistant" teased and feathered aqua-net hair scaffold and the "fuck you bitch, you're nothing but a stepping stone on the way to satisfying my own career ambitions" barracuda blow-bob. But jeez Louise.

In 1988 I was hanging out in sorority houses. I'm not stupid, I know this shit really happened. So why do I find it so surreal to watch the human beings in this movie interacting in a completely normal (for a Hollywood movie) fashion, as if there's not one thing completely insane happening on their heads?

It reminds me of another 1988 movie called "Alien Nation". If you never watched, it was about huge spaceships full of alien refugees who assimilate so completely into Earth society, before long nobody even notices their Starbucks barista is a polka-dotted bald freak. But this nonchalance wasn't the result of existing in a pop-culture fashion bubble isolated from it's audience and unwittingly destined to become a source of anachronistic glee. Instead it was an intentional plot device designed to bolster the blatantly obvious allegorical message of racial tension and tolerance.

Whereas in Working Girl, the message was the modern woman's struggle to be taken seriously and find professional success in a society ruthlessly dominated by... other modern women? I'm sorry, I was looking at the hair.

Stay tuned next week when I report TCM to the NTSB...
There is nothing keeping this child from the pavement
but the friction of wool and his mother's undivided

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