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who doesn’t love Dolly Parton? March 5, 2007

Posted by Wasik in 9 to 5, bodies, Uncategorized.

There were two things that struck me about Nine to Five. First, many elements that the film uses for comedic value are actually a bit problematic. One of the main characters fantasizes about dressing like a cowgirl and shooting her boss. The image of her wielding a gun and shooting her boss while he is curled up (in a very feminine way) on the toilet seat is supposed to be funny—there isn’t any real power in the image. The way that Dolly Parton imagines she will deal with her boss is even more ridiculous to the viewer—switching roles with him, she sexually harasses him by asking him to wear tighter pants to emphasize his package and calls him “hot stuff”. However, again, her words cannot be taken seriously. The idea of Dolly Parton forcing herself upon her male secretary, or even using terms that objectify him, is hilarious but not dangerous. Later, the fantasies of the three women accidentally become reality; once enacted, their ideas are carried through in an intelligent way, but the fact that the women’s power over their boss is the main comedic basis for the movie is still a bit questionable.

On a second, and completely unrelated, note, the clothing of the women in the film (and their general physical appearance) seems to directly determine how they are treated by others. What I found especially striking was the contrast between Dolly Parton’s and the new girl’s necklines. While Dolly Parton wears low-cut shirts that provoke unwanted attention from her boss (and make the other women in the office resent her), the new girl consistently wears shirts with extremely high necklines. Most of the time she emphasizes her ‘good girl’ persona even further with large bows or standoffish frills covering her neck as well as chest. Since most of the other women in the office fall somewhere in the middle of the Dolly-new girl neckline spectrum, I think that the necklines of those two women are intentionally meant to be revealing of their personalities—again, I find this a bit questionable.


1. priyanka2 - March 6, 2007

i, for one, totally love Dolly Parton. 🙂

i was thinking about the whole fantasizing-your-revenge/ fantasy-comes-true thing, and i also found that Dolly’s fantasy didn’t quite ring true. you can’t just switch the roles that simply. why? well, for one, it’s clear that neither Dolly’s character, nor any of the other women in the film (except maybe Roz and his wife) found the boss remotely attractive, indeed anything less than repulsive! so she would never be able to demean him the way he does her, because her lust for him was fake (and his resistance was unconvincing). it’s amazing the power a man can have to humiliate a woman just by looking at her in a sexualized way—the desire was missing the other way around, and therefore so was the power. now that i’ve said that, it appears to be more complicated than i had realized. hm.

okay and also, the movie definitely set up a contrast between the oversexed (but sweet, esp in that scene with her equally country-western husband) Darlene and the prim Judy—but that contrast also led to one of my favorite moments:
Dick Bernly: So! This is what you’re into now! Bondage!
Judy: What’s that?
Dick Bernly: Bondage, S&M, sex games!
Judy: That’s right! All of it, I’m into everything, now get out of here!
Judy breaks right through that innocent exterior, understanding that that innocence went hand in hand with a submissiveness to her husband. you would think she would be embarrassed when he walks in on the boss all tied up, but she totally embraces it, even without knowing what she’s embracing (“All of it, I’m into everything”–i love that.).

2. robynbahr - March 6, 2007

“I’m into all of that and M&Ms too!” LOL

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