“9 to 5”: A spoonful of Skinny & Sweet and a dash of feminism

You know when you hate your sexist, egotistical, lying,
hypocritical bigot

boss and fantasize about poisoning his coffee, and then accidentally
poison his coffee, and then keep him in bondage for a while until you
can get documents with which to blackmail him, and then while he’s indisposed,
you make your company women-friendly while you dramatically increase
productivity? I know … it’s an old story and we’ve all been there. But,
still, Hollywood managed to make that tired plot fresh back in 1980
with Dolly Parton, Lilly Tomlin and Jane Fonda in the comedy classic 9 to 5. And now (drum roll, please), 9 to 5 is on the cusp of becoming a stage musical.

Take a moment to guess how
much I love the movie. Did you guess “a lot”? If you did, you’re right. As a general rule, I’m not a big fan of slapstick — and
there are moments when the movie gets too slapsticky for me — but I
love that movie. Love it. I don’t love every Dolly Parton movie (although,
embarrassingly, I do have a certain fondness for Rhinestone),
but I love most of them, and I still think Doralee Rhodes is her best role.

And Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda
are perfect as Violet Newstead and Judy Bernly, respectively.

To refresh your recollection
of the movie, watch this video.



But back to the stage
musical news
. I wish
I could say it was getting ready to become a Broadway musical but, unfortunately
for me, it will be opening in 2008 in Los Angeles and is not expected
to come to Broadway until 2009. Alas. But still, this is excellent
news. Dolly Parton is writing the music and lyrics! Movie co-screenwriter

Patricia Resnick is writing the libretto. And Allison Janney will be playing Violet.

And I will be making plans
to visit friends in Los Angeles when the show opens.

Since I first heard about the
show, I’ve been wondering whether it will be set in 1980 or will be updated. An element of that musing was wondering how anachronistic
the movie’s workplace sexism is. I read today that the story will be set in 1980.
Although I fear they will overplay the ’80s kitsch, I don’t disagree
with that decision. (I’m sure the creative team will be relieved to
know that.) Workplace sexism was a different, very blatant animal in
the ’70s and early ’80s. And women absolutely have dramatically more professional
opportunities today.

But ask a working woman over
40 and a working woman under 30 about sexism in the workplace — and
ask whether each identifies as a feminist — and I suspect you may get
two pretty different answers. It makes a difference to remember when
the Equal
Rights Amendment

was still the news of the day. I know that at my company, there are
plenty of women in positions of power, but I’ve definitely seen a boys’
club mentality dominate the promotions process, and I’ve seen the hiring
of women executives concentrated in discrete departments. Additionally,
I’ve noticed that the younger women see “feminist” as a dirty word.

The article I read today about 9 to 5 had
this to say:

“Underneath the comedy, the
movie was about the smart, industrious but invisible women behind the
power structure of corporate America.”

And Patricia Resnick commented,
"[t]hat’s changed a little, but not as much as you would have thought
in the 25 years since the movie came out." (And, coincidentally,

Gloria Steinem has a pointed commentary about sexism in politics in today’s
New York Times
.)

What do you think of 9 to 5 and its themes? And do you consider yourself a feminist?

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