contentsINTRODUCTION CHAPTER I. Americanization of the Cinderella Narrative A. From Dependence to Independence B. From Passivity to Activity C. From Cinderella tale to the American Success Story CHAPTER II. The Eighties' Renditions of the Cinderella Story A. Fantasy/Dream Quality B. Feminist Issues 1. Work Opportunity 2. The Sisterhood 3. Rape 4. Patriarchal Resolution C. Cinderella and the Yuppies 1. Cinderella Joins Yuppiedom 2. Cinderella Helps Change Yuppie Ethics. CONCLUSION FILMOGRAPHY BIBLIOGRAPHY
The Hollywood movies Working Girl (1988) and Pretty Woman (1990) are about two very different women, a secretary in Manhattan and a prostitute in Hollywood, and their different stories, one attaining executive status and the other, the movie leads us to conclude, marrying an extremely rich businessman. Despite the differences in the settings, characters and plots, both movies contain the basic narrative of the Cinderella tale: through the love and help of a man of a higher social position, a girl of a lower social status moves up to join the man at his level. Both movies have had controversial reviews.
The most critical ones see Working Girl as "an embarrassingly transparent feminist backlash" (Palmer, 270), and find that Pretty Woman keeps the gender role stereotyping unchanged and " is unaffected by any form of feminist ideology"(Kelly, 88). I would like to argue that although both movies reflect certain conservative trends of the decade during which they were made, the influence of feminist ideology as well as some commonly recognized American values, for example, individualism and self-reliance, on the adaptation of the original Cinderella tale are everywhere and undeniable
in the two movies. To study the changes in these late eighties' Hollywood versions, it is necessary to take a look at the original tale itself first to see what it is and represents, and then compare it to what can be found in these two Hollywood movies.
The Cinderella story contains a basic narrative of a female in a disadvantaged condition rescued by a rich and powerful man. According to folklorist studies, it is the best known tale in history. It can be found in almost all cultures and has appeared in more than 700 versions, the earliest one being in China in the ninth century (Opie and Opie 1992, Bettleheim 1977). The universal and ageless qualities of the Cinderella story have inspired much research interest and effort. Besides the folklore studies on Cinderella, including Cinderella: Three Hundred and Forty-five Variants by Marian Roalfe Cox in 1893, and The Cinderella Cycle by Anna Burgitta Rooth in 1951, scholars from the fields such as literary history, psychology, feminist studies and cultural studies have been trying, from various perspectives, to explore more deeply the meanings and the influence of the Cinderella story. The following three studies are considered to be representative.
Colette Dowling's well-known book The Cinderella Complex: Women's Hidden Fear of Independence appeared in 1981. In this book, the author examines the negative influence of the Cinderella tale, pointing out that Cinderella is in fact a patriarchal instrument to produce and nurture a psychological dependence in women, which is very harmful to women and their development. In order to deal with the fear caused by dependent psychology, she argues, many women become quot; counterphobic" --putting on a "I don't need anybody. I can take care of myself" attitude outwardly to push down or deny the deep inward anxieties when lacking a man (67, 80). This work has provided a new point of view for many people, and has broadened the field for later studies. Another important work appeared in 1983, titled Fairy Tales and the Art of Subversion: The Classical Genre for Children and the Process of Civilization, by Jack Zipes. From a sociohistorical perspective, he compares different versions of the Cinderella tale and finds how, over time, the motifs, characters and themes were rearranged or eliminated to reflect the changing values of society (Zipes, 6-7). He argues that from the older version of the Cinderella story to Charles Perrault's adaptation in late 17th century, the best known version in American culture, there is a shift from matriarchal to patriarchal ideologies. In Transforming the Cinderella Dream: From Frances Burney to Charllotte Bronte, a book published in 1990, the author, Huang Mei, presents a systematic study of the formation and transformation of the Cinderella theme in the English novel. By examining many variant Cinderellas and the woman writers who created them, and by comparing Perrault's Cinderella to some oriental versions set against feudalist social backgrounds, Huang Mei reaches her unique interpretation that,
the Cinderella myth has functioned as a double-edged (or multiedged) ideological weapon. On the one hand, the code of propriety is carefully woven into a myth that romanticizes woman's subordinate and domesticated role within the patriarchy; on the other hand, the Protestant individualism that is simultaneously programmed into the plot inevitably arouses in women (and underprivileged people in general) a sense of individual dignity and an urge for self- realization. (25)
She further concludes that the story of Cinderella in the classical English novel, especially the ones by female writers, is, ultimately, not a personal Bildungsroman leading to marriage, but a collective female battle for a larger narrative as well as existential space. (29,141)
These previous research works enable us to view the Cinderella story from different perspectives.
Dialectically, the Cinderella story contains a strong negative narrative which serves the patriarchal purpose of keeping women in a passive and subordinate position, while at the same time it embodies a (perhaps taken-for-granted but still as strong) positive ideology which brings forth the sense of the individual person in Her hope and desire for personal betterment.
Sociohistorically, the tracing of the development of the Cinderella story indicates that there are generally rearrangements or modifications of the motifs, characters, themes, functions and configurations in the retelling of the tale (Zipes, 6). And the repeated appearances of the tale and the changes in the retelling more than often reflect the values, morals or ideologies of the particular time and society (Zipes, 6, 7, 55). Whereas the earlier versions of the Cinderella tale before Perrault represent either a matriarchal tradition depicting the struggle of an independent, active and witty young woman toward her goal not of marriage but of recognition (Zipes, 30), or a feudalistic ideology showing how a mistreated princess (not an ordinary girl) regains (not gains) her stature and rights within society (Opie and Opie, 117), Perrault's version apparently conforms to the patriarchal and bourgeoisie ideology of late 17th century France. Perrault's Cinderella demonstrates how a girl possessing the virtues of honesty, patience, prudence, industry, and obedience can be rewarded with a husband and the attendant better life and higher social position (Zipes, 16, 27, 30). Since the translation of Charles Perrault's Cinderella into English in 1729, it has been the most popular form of the Cinderella tale in America (Opie and Opie, 117, 121), because, among all the forms of the tale, it best represents Christian and bourgeois values and ideology.
As the retelling of any tale commonly brings with it new meanings and messages which may manifest the social, historical, political, economical, cultural information of the given time and place, so when the Cinderella tale is adopted into American popular culture through, for instance, the medium of film, Americanization is inevitable. Forty -five years ago, when Walt Disney made his animated feature Cinderella, the version he chose was the one by Charles Perrault, because it was the closest to American culture. Disney's Cinderella nevertheless differs from Perrault's in certain regards. For example, in Perrault's tale, when Cinderella and the Prince meet at the ball, most of the description is devoted to how the Prince is attracted by "the unknown Princess" Cinderella's beauty and grace and therefore falls in love with her, whereas there is scant mention of how she feels about the Prince. The assumption is that only the lofty Prince, and not the poor cinder girl, has the right to pick, and that what Cinderella can and should do is to remain good and wait patiently till she is recognized by him. She has the honor but not the choice. In Disney's movie, Cinderella falls in love with a nice and handsome young man, who comes to the door of the ballroom to receive her and invite her to dance, without knowing he is the prince himself. Cinderella is here provided with the opportunity to fall into love with the person rather than the inherited position. Implied in this little change is an important characteristic of America: the belief in the equality of individuals.
Hollywood's ability to mirror or diffuse society and history is yet another factor in the study of the American culture through these movies. In his book The Films of the Eighties: A Social History, William Palmer points out that because of the nature of the movie business itself -- forever seeking to attract the widest possible audience --, movies, likely not out of any altruistic or socially responsible motives, "have always shown and explored either directly or metaphorically what was on the mind of the ticket-buying public& quot;(xi), and these movies are usually able to "subtexualize the surface modes of discourse with potent sociohistorical messages& quot;(9). The reappearance and the changes of the Cinderella narrative in the two late eighties Hollywood movies Working Girl and Pretty Woman should, therefore, also reveal something about their time and place: the Reagan era 1980s America. Although in sociohistorical or cultural studies, as in reality, time and place are perhaps inseparable, for the convenience of the discussion, the analysis of the two movies will be divided into treatments of place and time: Chapter I, the Americanization of the Cinderella narrative--a general ideological examination of the modifications to the tale as seen in the two movies as compared to the original tale; Chapter II, the eighties' renditions of the Cinderella story-- an examination of the relevant issues and phenomena peculiar to the era. In Chapter I, three kinds of transition are examined: A. From dependence to independence; B. From passivity to activity; C. From Cinderella to the American Dreamer. In Chapter II, three issues are considered: A. Fantasy/Dream quality; B. Feminist ideology; C. The yuppie values.
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Submissiveness and dependence, basic characteristics of female life as it has come to be known, are central among the feminine virtues described and celebrated in the original Cinderella tale. Cinderella's life is basically a transformation from one kind of dependence--on the protection and aid of her dead mother's spirit (in the form of a cow or a tree or a bird) or a fairy godmother, to another kind of dependence-- on the final and highest protection promised by marriage to the Prince. But, in the two movies under study here, the two American heroines must, first of all, rely on themselves and not submit to any kind of domination.
Tess McGill (Melanie Griffith) in Working Girl lives in downscale, working-class Staten Island and works as a secretary at the bottom of the Wall Street business world, and Vivian Ward (Julia Roberts) in Pretty Woman comes from a small town in Georgia, and works as a prostitute on the streets of Hollywood to support herself. Although of low social backgrounds, they share a strong sense of personal dignity and independence. Tess, despite all the resistance she encounters, maintains a stubborn confidence in her ability to do her job. She tells the personnel director at her firm that although her straightforwardness has led her to be moved laterally from position to position, she knows she can do any job assigned to her. Her ability is ultimately proved by her accurate estimation of the stock market, and especially in the major acquisition deal she sets up and conducts. She seeks, in her relationships with her male colleagues, equality and mutual respect. For instance, she insists on buying drinks for men she drinks with to make plain her sense of equal footing and to circumvent the traditional implications of accepting a man's offer of a drink. She is consistently pleasant and cooperative with her friends, co-workers and her bosses -- she gets coffee not only for her bosses (on request) but for other secretaries (voluntarily); she serves food at her new woman boss Katharine Parker (Sigourney Weaver)'s introduction cocktail party; she even brings toilet paper to one of her male bosses in the men's room; in short, like Cinderella the cinder girl, she performs the services of her position without complaint. But she does not allow herself to be treated as an object by anybody, be it her male bosses, her female boss, or her boyfriend. As the result of a string of personal battles against the sexual exploitation of her male superiors, she is forced to change her positions within the company three times in six months. When a male boss of hers uses Tess's eagerness to get a better job as an opportunity to set her up with his friend, another male executive who wants to take her to a hotel instead of discussing the job offer or her qualifications, she refuses categorically, and takes her revenge on her boss by typing the message "David Lutz is a sleazoid pimp with a tiny little dick" on the quotron for everyone in the office to see. When she finds out that her new boss, Parker, wants to steal her idea for an acquisition deal, she does not complain or feel sorry for herself but instead starts out immediately to arrange everything on her own, making use of the perfect opportunity of her boss's absence due to an accident during a ski trip. Tess's boyfriend seems conventionally very fond of her -- arranging a surprise party for her birthday and often buying her presents, but his fondness for her is much more for her body than for her mind. In the scene after the surprise party, Tess tells her boyfriend, while trying on some erotic black lingerie, a birthday present from him: "You know, Mick, just once I could go for like, a sweater or some earrings, you know. A present that I can actually wear outside of this apartment." In another scene when Tess is excitedly telling Mick how her new woman boss really respects her and listens to her ideas and how this new boss is like a mentor to her, he shows no interest in what she is saying, but instead urges her to walk faster because the pizza he is carrying is getting cold. In another scene expressing their basic incompatibility and the irreconcilabilities of their outlooks on Tess' aspirations, he notices her new career woman's wardrobe and, through ignorance and perhaps contempt, remarks: "Classy. (chuckles) What, did you have to go to traffic court or somethin'?" The main cause of the conflict between Tess and her boyfriend is best presented in the conversation after he proposes to her and before their subsequent break up:
Tess : Three nights ago, I find you in bed with Doreen. We barely have a drink and a dance and then, boom! You want an answer about the rest of my life!
Dugan: All right, okay. Here we are, just the two of us. Will you marry me, or what?!
Tess : Jesus, Mick, do we have to decide this right now?
Dugan: I wanna get things solidified. Things in my life! You're not the only one who's got plans, you know.
Tess : I said, maybe.
Dugan: Maybe means dick! Fuck maybe! I want an answer now!
Tess : Please don't yell at me. You treat me like I'm dumb.
Dugan: (very annoyed) Why are we always talkin' about the way you get treated, huh? Who the fuck died and made you Grace Kelly?!
Tess : I am not steak. You can't just order me!
Dugan: Look, I don't need this. You get your priorities straight, maybe we'll talk. Right now, we're history.
What Mick wants is to arrange Tess into his life, and what Tess pursues is her right to arrange her own life. Like Cinderella in the old story, Tess has a good heart, charm and beauty, but beyond that, she also possesses, in her own words and reflected in the eventual acceptance of her male colleagues, "a head for business" and an ability to compete with, not just appeal to, men. She wants to be recognized, accepted and respected for all her qualities as an equal and independent person. She seeks a more "culturally masculine & quot; recognition, confirmed not by marriage but by career achievement (Traube, 126-127). This sense of independence and self- reliance is also presented in Pretty Woman.
Although Vivian's social position is even lower than Tess's, she is equally conscious of her dignity and independence. Even though sometimes they have to stand by the street with empty stomach to wait for clients, Vivian and her friend Kit (Laura San Giacomo) still keep themselves from the control of pimps, and "act as their own agents" (Radner, 59): "We say who. We say when. We say how much." Later, at the end of Vivian's one-week business arrangement with wealthy Edward Lewis (the Prince to her dream), which culminates in love and growing mutual respect, he offers her an apartment, a car and a credit card to get her off the streets, but she refuses. In his mind, he is doing something very special to take care of her; for Vivian, however, this arrangement is only different in terms of "geography" and terms of payment for the "business& quot; between them, while the prostitute-client relationship between them remains essentially the same. As his mistress, her life would be secure and safe, but she would lose the control she values in her work to say "who", "when" and "how much", her independence and the dignity of equality she demands in a love relationship. Consequently, she is willing to sacrifice the opportunity to be with the one she loves in order to maintain her independence. The truth is simple to her: if he cannot treat her as an independent and equal person, either he does not love her enough or this love is not worthy. Although some critics have concluded that the movie is rather conservative, as the heroine chooses marrying the hero over starting her life anew in another city by herself (Kelley, 88, 92). Some others argue that although the marriage plot seems to preserve the conventional narrative, it in fact reflects new terms of value and new structures of identity (Radner, 61). Therefore, the marriage in this particular case, is not a sign of a woman giving up her independence and career to seek the protection of a man, but of a man finally recognizing and accepting the woman he loves as his independent equal. This is the true politics of love or marriage. The same solution of marriage provides different meanings. In the Perrault tale, the marriage to the prince is the reward to the kind-hearted and long- suffering cinder girl; and in the Disney's Cinderella, the marriage is more a person to person relationship, but in Pretty Woman, the marriage stands as a political statement, a declaration of liberation of the heroine.
Concerning the plot of marriage, although it seems true that in both movies, as in the original Cinderella story, the heroines finally find the men they really love and are supposed to get married and lead a life better than before, their position in the marriage relationship have changed significantly. Compared to Cinderella who finds someon to depend on through her marriage, Tess and Vivian have kept and even reinforced and improved their individual identity and equal position as a worthy life companion and/or a respectable career partner, in the process of their love-relationship development.
Along with the change of the heroine's position from dependent to independent, another critical modification in the modern versions of the Cinderella tale in American movies is the change of the character from passive to active.
The lesson Perrault's Cinderella tale teaches is that a girl should be good and be patient. No matter how hard her life is, she should endure and wait to be saved. But in the two modern movies, the realization of ones goals cannot be expected by waiting passively but fighting actively. The heroines in the two movies are both very conscious of the importance of their own efforts to create better opportunities for themselves.
Tess, for example, has earned a night-school degree through five years of hard work. In order to further improve her ability and meet the educational qualification required in higher level positions, she attends speech classes during her lunch break, and attends an Emerging Markets Seminar after work, and applies to her company's Entree Program. But her efforts go entirely unrewarded, even seem to work against her. The company turns her down time and again for the Entree Program in favor of Harvard and Wharton graduates. Coming home early one evening when she is scheduled to have class, she finds her boyfriend in bed with another woman. Finally, her new woman boss whom she trusts so much and regards as her mentor, steals her idea, she does not, however, become apathetic and give up. She redoubles her efforts, seizing all possible opportunities, even tailoring opportunities to her evolving and progressively complex strategy. With the convenience of the temporary vacancy of her boss's office, Tess creates a false executive identity for herself to pursue the acquisition deal she originated but her boss has attempted to take over without giving Tess any credit. In the whole process of the deal, all her male colleagues are more experienced and more powerful than she is. Despite her false executive identity, and occasional slips of the facade -- automatically popping up when someone needs coffee -- Tess's ability as a business professional and her sharp sense of information collecting and convincing data analyzing make her the true leader of the team executing the deal.
Like Tess, Vivian knows that in society her own effort is the key to supporting herself and eventually securing a better future. She wants to set up a life in the city and tries very hard to look for a job. Due? to lack of a skill, although she is willing to do heavy or dirty work, she˙ is not able to find a job with enough pay to support herself. Her goal in life, as opposed to the more "culturally masculine" one of Tess, is simply to support herself by her own effort instead of letting somebody else arrange and control her life. This, in it self, represents a spirit of active effort for someone like Vivian. In addition to her efforts in trying to support herself and realize her own goals, Vivian also endeavors to help others. With a part of the $3000 windfall she earns from her week with Edward Lewis, she presses her friend Kit to pursue her long-dormant desire to become a beautician. And her most significant achievement is helping Edward Lewis, the corporate raider, rediscover his humanity, so he can build things instead of dismantling the work of others for profit, and find a more meaningful life other than locking himself in work. Her effort of helping him finally, in turn, helps her. This point will be discussed further in Chapter II, C.
The two aspects discussed above display the changes of emphasis on self-reliance and individual effort. And this emphasis on self- reliance and individual effort consists the essential difference between the Cinderella story and the American success story. In spite of its similar theme of upward social mobility, the Cinderella tale stresses the faith and patience for salvation from without. By contrast, the American success story promises that anyone, no matter how poor or disadvantaged, so long as one has the will and put in one's own effort, can realize one's dream of success. Notably, the Cinderella tale, especially Perrault's version, mainly designed to model women and their desires in life, assigns women a passive and subordinate role and a static position, while the American ideal, in principle, establishes an open class system for all men with equal access to the avenues of active success. (Though, of course, it should be here noted that this open class system was first limited, in actuality, to white men rather than to every human being regardless of race, sex, or ethnicity, due to the limited concept of the word "man" before the human rights and feminist movements.) In the early history of the American success story, in reality as well as in cultural presentation, the protagonists were almost exclusively men, working their way up the social ladder. The absence of women in the American success story shows, in fact, what the Cinderella tale implies: women are incidental to the fate of their mates and men endow the lives of women with purpose (Zipes, 26). Therefore, the appearance of the female characters who are self-reliant and active in the two movies, actually transforms the Cinderella story into two women's success stories, realizations of the American Dream for women. The two movies illustrate, on the one hand, through their active effort, women have gained access to the American Dream and the broadened opportunities outside the traditional domestic sphere. There are now female executives like Tess, Parker and Ginny, and many female secretarial personnel. And on the other hand, however, access and opportunities are still very limited to women. Men still hold higher positions in the work place while most women are often still at the bottom in the secretarial pool.
Besides Hollywood modifications, certain messages inherent in the Cinderella tale remain unchanged or are reaffirmed in the two movies: the importance and power of faith in the fulfillment of one's dream. Tess and Vivian are not satisfied with their situations, and they believe that they deserve something better, be it a managerial level job or marriage to a "prince". Finally, their urge for upward mobility and determination in realizing their dream are rewarded. Their goals and ultimate success are contrasted with the more modest desires of their friends, Cyn and Kit. Tess's friend Cyn believes one should know her limits, any personal improvements should remain within ones given sphere, not go beyond it. Although she is truly excited and happy for Tess's success, she sees Tess in the attempt to raise herself into a higher position as "a total impostor" and is "screwin' up" her life. Kit has a wish to go to beauty school, but she is in no hurry to actualize it, and she does not see any hope or necessity to leave her life as a prostitute. Their lack of higher dreams or faith in their dreams will thus, the movies tell us, keep them where they are and, perhaps, where they believe they belong.
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Working Girl and Pretty Woman were released during Reagan-Bush era (1980-1992), a period known for its conservative policy and right wing ideology. Promising to launch the economy on an era of unprecedented prosperity, the economic policies during the Reagan recovery years appeared "spectacularly successful in reducing the uncontrolled inflation that had been the bane of Americans during the Carter presidency", and created eighteen million new jobs and dropped the unemployment rate (American Presidency, 1288). Although the nation paid a heavy price later for the recovery, the seemingly favorable economic conditions, together with Reagan's famous & quot;style over substance" rhetoric(Palmer, ix), raised a shining optimism of unlimited possibilities during the time of his presidency (Presidency, 1288). The "Reagan-era fantasy of unrestricted desire" (Traube, 23) is first glimpsed in Reagan's speech announcing his presidential candidacy,
If there is one thing we are sure of, it is... that nothing is impossible, and that man is capable of improving his circumstances beyond what we are told is fact. (Presidency, 1288)
This fantasy, as it grew from that quintessential American optimism, also finds its best exemplification in the eighties unique phenomenon of the yuppies. The Young Urban Professionals, or more specifically, as designated by Fred Pfeil (1985), "the baby-boom professional- managerial class", are characterized by materialism-- high earning and rapid spending, and an acquisitive lifestyle (Palmer, 280~282, 291); the dress-for-success ethic (Palmer, 289) -- image manipulation over hard work and actual achievement (Traube, 22, 23, 108); and a ruthless competition ethic-- the job preceding everything: self, relationships, family, morality (Palmer, 280, 282, 285). In spite of his conservative policies, Reagan appointed, for the first time in American history, a woman, Sandra Day O'Connor, to serve on the Supreme Court, a move widely hailed by moderates and liberals alike (Presidency, 1287). The appointment and the reaction it raised indicated another important factor of the eighties, namely, the maturity of feminism and its profound influence on America (Palmer, ix).
The changes inscribed by the era will be considered through the interaction of these issues and the Cinderella tale and the American dream new to women in the two Hollywood movies.
The opening scene of Working Girl is a 360( aerial shot of the Statue of Liberty. When the camera, leading all the audience, soars around in the morning light, from a close-up of the goddess's confident and inspiring face to a long shot of the entire Statue with her right arm tirelessly holding up the torch lit with hope and the American spirit, the boundless water, land and sky all around her, it not only sets forth the tone for the movie -- a liberation story of a working girl in the central business jungle of New York --; but also invites the audience into a symbolic and fantasy world where one is supposed to be able to enjoy the freedom of a flying bird, and all the possibilities and opportunities such freedom implies. Over these images, the sound track repeats the chorus:
Let the river run; Let all the dreamers wake the nation. ... We, the great and small; Stand on a star; And blaze a trail of desire.
Words such as "dreamers" and "desire" in the lyrics of the song echo Reagan's rhetoric and the eighties' fantasy- like optimism. At the end of the movie the song is repeated, framing the personal emancipation story in the dream/fantasy.
A similar framing structure appears in Pretty Woman, too. Opening the movie, before the hero and the heroine meet, a black man walking on the street chants:
This is Hollywood. Everybody comes to Hollywood with a dream. What's your dream?
And, closing the movie, after the hero and heroine finally "rescue " each other and embrace, the figure reappears:
This is Hollywood, the land of dreams. Some dreams come true, some don't. But keep on dreaming.
The appearance of these two movies, with their fantasy quality, and the popularity they enjoyed in the Reagan eighties, undoubtedly suggest a certain trend and mood of the era and people. The effect of the framing reprise, Lapsley and Westlake point out, may serve a more complex purpose, too: to retrospectively introduce a measure of irony into the otherwise traditional form of the movies (27). In this way the movies may resolve the contradiction the audience faces in an age of lost innocence: the strain between the attraction to the fairy tale/myth and the difficulty of consciously embracing it is eased, by attaching a mark of dream/fantasy deliberately onto the product (28).
Since the women's movement of the 1960s, the United States has been undergoing remarkable institutional and ideological changes regarding gender issues. The institutional changes are generally much easier to measure or show statistically than the non-institutional ones. Non-institutional changes, in, for example, ideology, however, usually occur gradually yet are more representative of the depth of changes. That is why even in these two mainstream (not essentially feminist or radical) movies produced by male filmmakers in the conservative Reagan era and criticized by some as "feminist backlash" --in the case of Working Girl (Palmer, 270), or & quot;unaffected by any form of feminist ideology"-- in the case of Pretty Woman (Kelley, 88), the profound influence of feminist ideology can be traced in most of the following issues.
From Working Girl we can see that some women have secured places for themselves in the world outside the home. Although the higher and more powerful positions in a work place are still beyond their ascendancy in many cases, their opportunities have expanded greatly, a trend born out by the statistics: more than fifty percent of all women work outside the home in the eighties (Radner, 59). The movement from the traditional domestic sphere to the work place results from a growing financial need coupled with the expending influence of feminist ideology and the traditional middle-class ideology of success through individual initiative (Traube, 127).
Even in Pretty Woman , which is not set in a conventional work place, we can still find working women everywhere: in the hotel, in the stores, and in offices.
Both movies are criticized for the betrayal (Palmer, 258) or unfavorable depiction (Kelly, 92) of the sisterhood, an important concept in feminist ideology, emphasizing that women are bound in a communal oneness. To study the issue of sisterhood in these movies, it is necessary to be aware that there are both facts and concepts involved. While determining whether the two movies are actually presenting the relationships among women in a negative light, we need to, at the same time, reconsider the concept of sisterhood: whether sex should be viewed as a wholly independent, deterministic factor in human relationships, or in other words, whether gender functions separately and beyond other social divisions such as class or race.
The criticism of Working Girl is based mostly on the relationship between Parker and Tess. Looking more closely into the movie, it is not difficult to see that Parker is actually one prominent exception. Most of the women in Working Girl are cast in positive and predominantly mutually supportive relationships. Cyn and Tess are close friends and they support each other; the woman director in the personnel department is sympathetic and helpful to Tess; Tess brings coffee for a co-worker, and others gather around Tess's desk to celebrate her birthday; and they all hail Tess's success.
In Pretty Woman, Kit and Vivian are also very supportive of each other. Although, in a critique of the movie published in Journal of American Culture, Karol Kelley insists that Kit is not a true friend because she "steers Vivian into prostitution" (92), if we evaluate what Kit does against the backdrop of her own character, limits and situation and not according to an external moral standard, it might be evident that Kit is not purposely leading Vivian into something she herself believes to be bad, but, given the limits of her own abilities and condition, she may be providing the best possible way she knows to help Vivian to support herself. Thus we may conclude that Kit is acting positively on her friend's behalf. In another scene, when Vivian is introduced by the hotel manager to a friend who will help her buy a cocktail dress, Vivian feels she should be honest with her and confesses to her that Lewis is not really, as the manager has stated, her "uncle", the woman chimes in, "No, dear, they never are," tacitly expressing a natural understanding between them. The movie also mentions in an early party scene that one of Edward's former girlfriends, though estranged from him, has developed a strong friendship with his secretary, the secretary eventually serving as her maid of honor. These provide a convincing view of good sistership existing in the movie Pretty Woman, too. Now let us take a look at the opposite examples. There are women who are deliberately nasty to Vivian in different situations. At a polo match Vivian attends with Edward, Edward's lawyer's wife unaware of Vivian's real function, in a phrase, ridicules her to be the disposable latest in Edward's string of girlfriends; other young ladies at the match make similarly comments right in front of her; and the women clerks in a Rodeo Drive boutique first discourage her then outright ask her to leave the shop. But the women in the store do not treat Vivian badly as a woman but as a member of an inferior economic class (her dress indicates her class and perhaps her occupation). As Edward puts it, "they are never nice to people, they are nice to credit cards.& quot; And the women in other examples are jealous of her relationship with Edward Lewis and make their comments in the spirit of that competition which can have only one winner. In these situations class or social group consciousness or matters of the heart play more decisive roles than the questions of sisterhood.
This shows, as has been pointed out by some recent feminist theories, that gender is not the sole or the top decisive factor in human relationship. Gender co-exists with other factors, such as, race, class, ethnicity, etc. Although in different cases, certain factors may function more strongly, the process and the ultimate result will always be of the interaction of all the involving factors. The criticism regarding any depiction of trouble or confrontation among women as being against sisterhood is, therefore, trying to exercise something not existing in the real society: gender completely without class, racial, ethnical, religious, or any other social, cultural background.
The issue of rape has stirred bitter argument through American history. Heated opinions on the nature of rape range broadly from, for instance, blaming the victim for the crime, or viewing rape as only a momentary loss of control over sexual desire, to the more feminist view point -- seeing rape as attempt to enforce male power over women through sexual violence. Therefore, even though rape is not a direct Cinderella issue, it is relevent to the discussion of the influence of feminist ideology, which is expressed in Pretty Woman`s presentation of the attempted rape of a prostitute.
In Pretty Woman, Edward's lawyer Phil observes the changes in Edward -- softening and a loss of desire for the aggressive and heartless aspects of their business--, and he attributes those changes to the moral influence of Vivian. All his consequent rage toward Vivian culminates in an attempt to rape her. In the attempted rape scene, it is very clear that Phil wants to rape Vivian not to quench an uncontrollable sexual impulse, but to give vent to all his anger for what he has lost -- the money from an unfriendly buyout that Edward has overturned with his newfound humanity, and the control of Edward. Phil wants to humiliate Vivian as he feels he has been humiliated, and, if possible, destroy her. Although the rape scene occupies a rather small part of the movie, and the movie does not pursue the issue, the way in which the movie deals with rape itself is important, for it gives no ambiguous explanation for rape but reaffirms the feminist view point that rape is not about sex but about abasement and power.
Working Girl comprises the progress of a woman's liberation and success despite various obstacles. Tess convincingly establishes herself as a capable business woman and fundamentally good person who deserves recognition. Nonetheless, neither her nor her partner and her love interest Jack Trainer's efforts are enough to rescue her from the ultimate injustice that has propelled the story to its conclusion and threatens to destroy Tess. They have to wait until Trask, a & quot;paternalistic figure of authority" (Traube, 23), judges right and wrong and grants Tess her success at the final critical point. This resolution to the woman's struggle through the intervention and approval of an authoritative father figure(Traube, 112) echoes those in the traditional American success mythology, seen most vividly in the stories of Horatio Alger. Even Tess's modern success story does not fundamentally escape the bounds of the formula.
Although from the beginning of the movie, Tess already possesses all the qualities required in pursuing the American Dream -- effort, commitment, ability and hard-won skills --, she can not succeed. The film suggests that in the eighties (and early nineties) in order to become successful, one must learn to present oneself through a successful image, not through achievement; and one must rely on cunning, even dishonesty, calling it "bending the rules" (Traube, 21). Despite her false identity, "borrowing" Parker's wardrobe and her office without permission, Tess is presented as an honest and capable woman, better than her yuppie bosses. Therefore when Trask finally drives Parker from her position and invites Tess to join the yuppiedom, the film is in fact exposing, and criticizing aspects of the yuppie ideology.
Edward Lewis, as a corporate raider, holds perhaps the highest position among the Yuppies. He arranges his entire life, including his relationships, all around his work. His lifestyle has forced his humanity down deeper than he himself can reach. This symptom can be summarized as a disintegration caused by the combination of the heavy pressure, the fierce competition, frantic pace and material oriented goals, as presented not just in the two movies under discussion here but in many other eighties' productions, such as Wall Street (1987) and The Secret of My Success (1987) (Palmer, 282, 286). And very often, when the yuppies reach their dream, "they find it empty", or feel it ultimately a nightmare, because in attaining the dream/goal, they have to give up many precious things, even including themselves (Palmer, 290).
From where then, can someone like Edward, who is already on top, receive help? In the beginning of the movie, Edward drives Phil's new Lotus from Phil's party on the hill to his hotel in Beverly Hills. He first drives up the hill, but there is no way to go any higher, so he has to turn back and drive down. This can be interpreted as symbolizing Edward's help will come from below. Although Kelley sees Vivian as powerless and helpless (90) in terms of money and position, she has more power than Edward's society girlfriends and even Phil in her own way to reawaken Edward's humanity, and to allow Edward to rediscover his childhood love of "making things". In this way, Edward's ruthless competition ethic and destructive desire are turned into positive and creative forces. And he begins to feel positive and good about himself as well as about his feeling for and relationship with the person who helps bring all this out. At the end, when Edward comes to rescue her in terms of Cinderella tale Vivian requires, Vivian replies that she will rescue him right back. For while the pretty clothes he provides her do make her look like a princess, these are only superficial changes. They make her beauty more visible and admirable and her virtues more recognizable. But the changes of Edward are more internal and profound. He is the one being transformed (Lapsley and Westlake, 47). Here the saved is also the savior (Zipes, 37).
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The Cinderella tale contains a rich narrative which enables the tale to carry various messages. The two major aspects of Charles Perrault's version under consideration here are its patriarchal ideology and its sense of individual values. Since Perrault's European Cinderella was introduced into American society, it has gone through changes inscribed by American culture through different historic periods.
Working Girl and Pretty Woman, two 1980s Hollywood versions of the Cinderella tale, embody many new as well as old values and ideologies. The old themes and sexual stereotypes are not completely abandoned, but the old portrayals of gender stereotypes are transmuted by blossoming feminist consciousness (Palmer, 255~256). Working Girl provides an American career woman's positive success story, presenting the new woman's access to the American Dream, but also offers the patriarchal order as the final judge and granter of success.? Pretty Woman presents a conventional narrative of the marriage plot, yet rejects the stereotypical dominance/submission relationship. The Reagan Era manifests itself through various elements in the movies and describes the terms of the kingdom both dreamers rise to enter. Cinderella becomes the American Dreamer by learning that she should "not expect anything to be handed to her, but expect everything.& quot; (Radner, 56)
Both movies hold Yuppie ideology in some contempt. They bring low those who engage in ruthless competition and do business by destroying businesses others have built. Nostalgically, they celebrate those who, like Cinderella, begin low but are good of heart.
Despite their conservative elements, which are appropriate to the period in which these movies were made, and despite the fact that these are mainstream (not radical or fringe) Hollywood movies created by male directors and writers, the changes they make to the Cinderella tale at their base reflect the deep changes feminist ideology has made in American society and culture. Perrault's Cinderella in Eighties' America still enters the kingdom, but the magic that brings her there comes from within. And that magic is her eternal sense of herself.
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Huang, Mei. 1990. Transforming the Cinderella Dream: From Frances Burney to Charlotte Bronte. New Brunswick and London: Rutgers University Press.