The general reaction to Hustlers, which stars Jennifer Lopez, has been pretty positive.
We say ‘pretty’, but some outlets have even gone as far as to say that Lopez should be an Oscar contender for her performance.
One of those is the Daily Beast, which says that “J.Lo gives a career-best performance as the ringleader of a band of strippers who steal from their douchey Wall Street clients in one of the most fun crime thrillers of the year”.
Given that Wall Street steals from people constantly, you probably won’t find many folks shedding tears:
[J.Lo’s] playing Ramona, a veteran stripper and the main attraction at a New York City strip club where Wall Street pricks sling hundreds, right before the financial crisis of 2008. A sparkling G-string and bikini top do their best, but the truth is there is no diverting your eyes from Lopez’s abs—as much a special effect as there’s ever been in a movie—as she struts, twirls, writhes, grinds, dances, and preens. You’ve never seen the movie star exude such gritty, carnal energy. It’s as discomfiting as it is mesmerizing.
Well, OK then.
The movie is actually based off a famous New York Magazine article from back in 2015, but let’s watch the trailer before we go any further:
In the wake of all the buzz around the film, many have asked what actual, real-life strippers make of the movie, and J.Lo’s performance.
Again, the Daily Beast has the answers, speaking with Jacq the Stripper (Jack the Ripper – get it?) and others about their views:
For weeks, strip club locker rooms have been abuzz with debates about the movie. Was it exploitative or was it bringing the stripper narrative into the mainstream? Many sex workers wanted to know why Hollywood gets to portray sex workers’ stories while actual sex workers are censored on social media all the time…
Just a few hours earlier, Jacq stood in front of the Cinepolis cinema in Chelsea, waiting for a girl squad of five sex workers to go see Hustlers for the first time. The squad tonight is a premier selection of New York’s sex-worker-activist elite.
If you’re rooting for J. Lo and her movie, then you’re in luck:
Gizelle’s eyes widen as she watches the movie, and she keeps gripping my hand and telling me, “That’s accurate!!” There’s a montage of scenes she relates to: a stripper talks about not even wanting to have sex with her boyfriend by the time she gets home from work; a client can’t stop asking about a stripper’s daddy issues; another stripper gets chewed out by a jealous boyfriend; a manager takes a larger cut of a stripper’s salary than he promised; and Constance Wu’s character barely takes home any money after she splits it with the DJ, security, the bartender, and the house mom.
At one point J.Lo’s character says, “This whole country is a strip club. You got people tossing the money and people doing the dance.” “Now that is the real truth,” says Gizelle. In the next scene, it’s a cold night on the strip-club roof and J.Lo wraps Constance Wu’s character in her fur coat. “Alright, that’s not true! Strippers are not that nice to each other!” says Gizelle. “I mean, I am! But not everybody is and we should be if we want to move ahead.”
There are more accounts of how what plays out in the film mirrors the real-life experiences of those who work in the industry, but let’s skip to the end of the piece:
“I think every stripper needs to see this movie,” Gizelle tells me. In one of the opening scenes of Hustlers, J.Lo does a split on stage, and her lack of flexibility causes Gizelle to laugh. “Damn, J.Lo can’t do a split!” she exclaims.
Four hours later, on stage in front of us, a dancer melts into a split like butter on a hot frying plan. “Now that,” Gizelle says with a nod, “is how it’s really done.”
So the movie is pretty accurate, J.Lo’s split game isn’t great, and that instantly squashes her chances of winning an Oscar.
Or perhaps not – I don’t make the rules.
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