Saturday, May 25, 2024
Risky Business: Hookers, Teens, Capitalism Collide at 40

Risky Business: Hookers, Teens, Capitalism Collide at 40

The “hooker with a heart of gold” narrative convention, although common in modern storytelling, is considered hackneyed and ignorant. Filmmakers often try to make the hooker character unbelievably beautiful and attracted to the protagonist, who typically represents the filmmaker. This trope is seen in films like “Killing Zoe” and “True Romance.” However, it is not exclusive to these movies, as it can also be found in older films like “Night Shift.”

One film that stands out in terms of its influence on subsequent movies is “Risky Business,” which celebrates its fortieth anniversary this month. The movie not only launched Tom Cruise’s career but also popularized tropes that would shape teen comedies for years to come. However, the portrayal of sex work in “Risky Business” is complicated yet not entirely negative. The film subtly critiques American notions of free enterprise, as the protagonist, Joel Goodsen, is consumed by the pressure to succeed academically and socially.

When Joel’s parents leave for an extended trip, his friend Miles encourages him to take risks. This leads Joel to hire an escort, who turns out to be Jackie, a cross-dressing prostitute played by Bruce A. Young. While the initial introduction of the character may be shocking, the movie treats Jackie with a level of respect that is uncommon for the time. Joel invites Jackie inside and explains the misunderstanding. They come to an arrangement where Jackie will be compensated for their time and effort.

Here is where the movie takes a departure from reality. Instead of following the typical narrative of Joel’s dreams leading to ruin, he has a dreamlike encounter with Lana, another escort played by Rebecca De Mornay. Their stylized sex scene unfolds in a seductive manner, with the doors opening and leaves blowing in from the garden. This portrayal deviates from the reality of escorts and adds to the film’s dreamlike atmosphere.

As the story progresses, Lana stays overnight and forms a connection with Joel. She later informs him that he owes her $300, creating the driving force behind the movie’s title. Joel’s interactions with Lana and his involvement in the risky business of running a brothel for curious teens improve his social status and help him gain admission to Princeton.

The film’s original ending took a darker turn, but the public release offered a more uncertain conclusion regarding Joel and Lana’s relationship. Lana’s proposition to become Joel’s “girlfriend” during the duration of their business arrangement foreshadows the concept of the “girlfriend experience.” Ultimately, the movie presents a complex and somewhat respectful portrayal of sex work, challenging the stereotypes typically associated with this subject matter.

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About Eamon Connor

Meet Eamon Connor, a master of all things business, entrepreneurship, finance, and investing! With a passion for leadership and management, he shares invaluable insights on how to excel in the online business space, make money online, and stand out in the world of marketing and advertising. With Eamon's guidance, you'll be well on your way to startup success!

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