9 p.m., July 27
Retire this trend: strippers who don't strip.
One of the many reasons I loved The Sopranos was that the show didn't glamorize stripping. Mob guy Tony Soprano operated out of a strip club called the Bada Bing!, and it was just as depressing a place as you might imagine. Yeah, there was a lot of skin, but boy howdy, there wasn't a lot of heat - because guess what? Money has a way of cheapening the whole sexual transaction thing.
Some movies get this. Viz. the opening two minutes of Faster, Pussycat! Kill! KIll!
But soooo many others do not, because it's not in the best interests of the bottom line. Better if we can keep imagining Stripper to be the preferred profession of Women on the Outskirts of Polite Society. It's the feminine version of dudes who wind up as cowboys, or writers, or private investigators.
The trouble is, a lot of girls who are pretty and/or talented enough to wind up as movie stars seem reluctant for some reason to actually strip on camera. So we get the strange phenomenon of strippers who don't strip, sort of the cinematic equivalent of a samurai who never unsheathes his sword. Salma Hayek almost made this work in From Dusk Till Dawn, because, well, she's Salma Hayek, and she worked with a huge snake:
But try for a moment to imagine a real-world strip club where the patrons would be satisfied watching Jessica Alba gyrate with a lasso and nothing more, a la her appearance in Sin City:
Still, at least she had props. Poor Julianne Hough in Rock of Ages had to try communicating the degradation of being forced to peddle her body instead of her voice while belting out that great anthem to cheerful self-indulgence, "Any Way You Want It." And all she had to work with was the pole.
I mention all this because over the past couple of days, Ye Olde Internet has been abuzz, abuzz I say, with talk of the trailers for The Frozen Ground and Butter, two upcoming films that feature pretty stars playing strippers who will almost certainly not strip. The former features Vanessa Hudgens, late of Disney's High School Musical:
The latter, Olivia Wilde:
Mind you, I'm not putting in a plea for more skin onscreen. I'm saying that strippers who don't strip are a dumb cinematic trope, and so let's maybe come up with something else for ladies to do, like maybe streetwalking. Sigh.