Mascott’s Movie Rewind – Showgirls

Originally posted September 30th, 2010.
showgirls poster

SHOWGIRLS
1995
DIRECTED BY PAUL VERHOEVEN

“That kid in BIG – Does he really say ‘fuck?’ the Kidd once said to me as we edited a Rewind.
“Yeah, he totally does. He says, ‘who the fuck are you.’ In a PG movie – that kind of amazes me.”
“Hrm…okay, so this week I want you to do SHOWGIRLS,”
“What?” I said, hoping that The Kidd was only Kidding. (‘Kidding,’ while not entirely unlike ‘kidding’, it’s more about just fucking with me.)
“SHOWGIRLS. You know it?” “I know….of it,” I replied, tugging at my metaphorical internet collar.

What I knew of SHOWGIRLS were two things- That it was the first (and only) widely distributed movie that was rated NC-17 on release, and the number of awards it had won in the year it came out. Oh, it didn’t win the good ones though – SHOWGIRLS won seven Razzies at the 15th Golden Raspberry Awards, and holds the record for most nominations ever. (13 – Inexplicably, that’s more nominations then there were categories.) In 2000, SHOWGIRLS won “Worst Movie of the Decade,” and until 2007 it was tied with BATTLEFIELD EARTH for most wins. (Lindsay Lohan’s I KNOW WHO KILLED ME won eight.)

“Can we errr….can we pick a….better movie?” I asked.
“What?”
“Well, I mean, I have to post this to my Facebook wall and everyone I know is going to see it and it’d be a bit…awkward…for everyone to read about how I basically watched…porn.”
“Mascott. You’re 18 now. It’s okay for you to watch a movie with boobies in it.”

He had a point.

The movie starts off with Nomi Malone, played by Elizabeth Berkley, hitchhiking to Vegas to realize her dream of being in the topless musicals in the casinos. (Really aiming high there, yeah Nomi?) However, she soon realizes that without a place to stay, she’s likely to be fighting rats and hobos for that last Chic-Fil-A waffle fry. A woman named Molly, played by Gina Rivera, takes pity on this latchkey kid and lets Nomi live with her in her trailer. Nomi begins working as a stripper – something she apparently enjoys, but still wants to be a (topless) star. (Apparently it never occurred to her that there are a number of stars that do not show their boobs professionally.) Through a private lap dance, she gets involved with the biggest (topless) stage musical in town, and begins a rivalry/lesbian relationship with the show’s star.

I want some credit for that, because this movie is not easy to follow.

First off, there are no pictures in this article, and there is a reason for that. You know how I said that this movie was porn? Yeah, this movie is porn. There is not a frame in this movie that does not prominently or sneakily feature T and/or A. Vigorous dry humping, lesbians, an absolutely awful rape scene and a monkey are all what this flick calls setpieces. This movie knows that it’s basically porn and as soon as it realizes it, it’s even more pornish. All it’s missing is a plumber who wears a denim with cut off sleeves and talks about how exactly he uses his “tool.” (Which genuinely would not seem out of place.)

I’ll be the first to admit, I’m kind of a sucker for musicals – LES MISERABLES, MY FAIR LADY, OLIVER – And if I see THE PRODUCERS one more time, I’m pretty sure I’ve negated the need for any activity with another guy when it comes to being considered gay. Working as a stage actor and film director has given me a huge amount of respect for the people who go up and put themselves out there for an audience, but there I was just constantly in awe that either 1) These topless shows actually happen and/or 2) the director would fictionalize the world of Las Vegas so much. I came to the conclusion that the respect I have for actors/dancers/singers is negated by the non-respect I have for topless actors/dancers/singers. If you want to call me out, sure – I’m an asshole because I don’t feel that topless stage shows deserve the same level of respect as my ninth grade production of A CHRISTMAS STORY.

I find it hard to really evaluate the acting, because the things that the characters are made to say are pretty ridiculous. Elizabeth Berkley deserved her “Worst Actress,” award for sure, but Gina Gershon would be pretty good as the spiteful lesbian if the written character weren’t so ridiculous. Robert Davi is watchable in his role as a club owner, but he’s the one hating all the women in the first place, so maybe it’s just that he fits in so well.

I’m under the impression that Paul Verhoeven, the director, hates women. Like, really hates them. The guy made ROBOCOP, then TOTAL RECALL, then BASIC INSTINCT. However, he seems to absolutely love strippers in the same way that a guy that wears sweatpants all the time loves them. One of the things I came up while I was researching for this article was a quote from Quentin Tarrantino, who enjoyed SHOWGIRLS. It was the “only […] time in the last twenty years a major studio made a full-on, gigantic, big-budget exploitation movie”; And it’s totally true – This is the modern exploitation flick. It has a lot in common with the exploitation (and porn) movies from the 70s. (I recommend taking the time to read the Wikipedia entry for DEBBIE DOES DALLAS. The plot overview follows Wikipedia’s style guidelines to a tee.) If you look at it that way, yes, it’s an exploitation flick, but it’s a really bad exploitation flick. The best exploitation flicks were made by people who had a certain amount of respect for the people they were…exploiting. My favorite one, COFFY, is about how Coffy fucking kicks ass and doesn’t take shit from anyone. Exploitation movies are not inherently bad just because they’re exploitation movies, which is something I hear far too often! SHOWGIRLS, on the other hand, is horrible. It just keeps saying again and again that women are weak and stupid when left to their own devices. I’ve been under the impression that this is not true, being as girls have a tendency to hit me whenever I perpetrate this idea and I have a tendency to not enjoy it, but, hey, Paul, you go ahead and do whatever if you can take getting smacked in the head by every woman on Earth. (Though, to his credit, he does have a style all his own, and it does fit with the style of the rest of his movies, despite being fucking awful.)

This is an absolutely terrible movie. Listen to me. It is bad. Just….Just really bad. Don’t make the same mistake I did. I was told, going in, that there is a lot of love for this movie out there. I have to assume this love is  ironic, because if it wasn’t I’d have to believe that there are a lot more masochists out there there I could have ever imagined. I feel that the people who actually enjoyed SHOWGIRLS the first time they watched it are the people that might have walked out of PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE in 1959 going, “Hey, know what? That movie was pretty good, I liked that – And so well made! Want to see it again?”

YOU ARE WRONG.

Now, I wanted to believe that this movie was picked because of the conversation that The Kidd and I had when editing BIG, but I know for a fact that Tom Hanks had nothing to do with this choice.  See, back when InfamousKidd.com was just getting started, I had things other than my article to worry about, such as how I was going to get into the movie WATCHMEN. At the time, I was only 16, and wouldn’t actually be old enough to get into an R-Rated movie for another two months. However, I NEEDED to see WATCHMEN. I hungered for it deep in my soul. I considered a disguise consisting of a leather jacket and a fedora (that was previously worn by me in The Mascott Speaks), and ran it past The Kidd.

“Are you fucking kidding me?”

He was not impressed. He felt that I should have been sneaking into R-rated movies since I was twelve. He told me that I would be as he was he in 1995, sneaking into the theatre for a screening of the NC-17 rated SHOWGIRLS with a group of friends.

He liked it.

AND THAT’S THE WAY THE COOKIE CRUMBLES.

Favorite Part – No.

Best Actor – Gina Gershon? I guess? Really I’m up here picking the best piece of shit from a giant pile of shit. There is no shortage of shitty acting here.

Most Thankful For – No.

What Date You Should Watch This On – NO.

After Watching This Movie, I… –Asked Billy if it was okay if I hung myself. He told me to finish the article first.

While Writing This Article, I… – Mainlined Woody Allen.

Word I Should Have Used in This Article But Refused To – “Pornographic.”

Recommended? – NO. As with all movies I watch for The Rewind, I have to acknowledge that I’m sure there is a time and place that SHOWGIRLS might be enjoyable. Maybe at a classy party in an apartment in Brooklyn, or while writing a book about the worst movies of all time. I’ve even been told that there’s a certain value in SHOWGIRLS if you take it, today, as social commentary. Of course, watching it as satire would require that I knew that was supposed to watch it as satire the first time, and I didn’t feel the need to suffer through it a second time. I watched this movie as “a movie,” not knowing anything about it going in other than the fact that it was certified as terrible. However, I can tell you from experience that one of these situations where SHOWGIRLS is good is most certainly not “alone in your basement on a disgusting couch shoving Bagel Bites down your throat and chugging Mello Yello like it was the Fountain of Youth.”  It is not a Christmas-Yet-To Come that I enjoyed having projected for me.

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