So last night—for no particularly good reason—the son and I watched “Flashdance,” the 1983 cinematic hit that grossed more than $200 million worldwide (keep in mind, this was nearly 40 years ago—that total is enormous) and had every American woman (and some men) craving black legwarmers and an off-the-shoulder sweatshirt.
I was 11 when the flick came out, and it truly felt like a cultural shifting point. For music. For style. For the way we think about lobster. Just—BOOM! One of those movies.
So, again, last night we watched it.
I mean—seriously brutal, and perhaps the worst film I’ve ever watched beginning-to-end.
I actually don’t get it. Roger Ebert didn’t get it, either. For that matter, the wife didn’t get it, either—she was the one who suggested the watching from long-ago memories, then sat sorta dumbfounded thru the unambiguous awfulness. Without a precise accounting, I’d say there were about 20 brutal pieces of this movie, ranging from all the awkward cuts and pastes to make it (not) look like Jennifer Beals was dancing to the unexplained senior citizen friend to the weird welding shots to the sexulizing of seafood to the one-dimension bad guy (In 1983, bad guys wore earrings) to the judges nodding knowingly during Beals’ breakdancing-inspired audition for the Pittsburgh Ballet Company.
But the worst—the absolute worst—was this: At the time of filming, Jennifer Beals was 18 (as was her character).
At the time of filming, Michael Nouri (her love interest) was 36 (as was his character).
In “Flashdance,” he’s the boss of the construction company, Beals is the welder. Again, he’s THE BOSS. And he’s THIRTY-SIX. This is serious Matt Gaetz territory, only it’s signed off upon by everyone involved in this puddle of vomit manure. At one point, the two characters walk arm and arm thru the construction project, and workers clap and howl in delight. I actually don’t get it—it’s 1983, you’re casting this movie, you have a good budget, you think to yourself, “Let’s straddle the line of statutory rape! Viewers will love it!”
And, oddly, the did. “Flashdance” remains a thing in American culture.
Shame on us all.