The fact that a movie like Magic Mike is enjoying the kind of mainstream success that it has achieved is a testament to how the millennial generation has come to reverse the traditional gender stereotypes of its parents and grandparents.
The film, starring Matthew McConaughey, Channing Tatum and Joe Manganiello, follows a troupe of male exotic dancers who struggle between getting paid for entertaining a room full of ladies and finding true love, blah, blah.
The point is that the movie, loosely based on Tatum’s own past as a stripper, is not as bad as Showgirls but not as good as Boogie Nights. At most, it will have a decent box office performance while accompanying a popular soundtrack and perhaps spinning off a Broadway version.
Warning: NSFW Trailer
But in what Magic Mike really excels is in capitalizing on the entertainment needs of a female millennial generation who is both emotionally and financially independent and doesn’t mind to reverse the traditional gender stereotypes of its parents and grandparents (while for grandma, attending a male “revue” could border on amoral and for mom could be a once-in-a-lifetime crazy thing; for the daughter, a ladies night out to a male strip joint is just one more entertainment option for the night).
Furthermore, Magic Mike gives the already empowered millennial ladies the driver seat by placing the guys on display and the women in the role of the observer. They’ll go to the movie theater – or to the nearest male strip club – to be entertained as opposed to be the entertainment themselves. They get to pick, choose and order; and the fact that they’re paying for it, makes it all more interesting.
But Magic Mike is not all about gender roles. The movie also has an underlying socio-economic premise as it portrays guys who are struggling to find work in recession-hit America as considering stripping as an alternative. However, Steven Soderbergh’s film is not the first one attempting this fate; the 1997 British comedy The Full Monty, successfully achieved it (and arguably with more cinema cred). Not sure if ladies today, though, would like the unshaven and six pack-free dancers of The Full Monty. Or, would they?