The 80 s movie celebrated ladies striving to get ahead. Now 30 times on, Hollywood seems to want to made women in their place

The women in Working Girl gazed stunning in their superpower clothings. How do professional girl reputations dress now? Cyrus, by email

I like the slashed of your jib, Cyrus! Any man who wastes his evenings not just watching but RE-watching Working Girl is welcome to sit by me. And you are right, girls don’t wear ability clothings in movies any more, but that is because women in real life don’t wear power dress these days. In information, one of the most interesting fashion floors told in Fancy woman, aside from that it really is possible to pay $ 6,000 for an item of robing and” it’s not even leather“, is that you can see the superpower dres changing figure in this late-8 0s movie, shifting to something decidedly more 90 s. Whereas Tess( Melanie Griffith) and Cynthia( Joan Cusack) wear big shoulders and heavy cases, Katherine( Sigourney Weaver ), the status of women with the real power, wears far more minimalist, slimmed-down suits. As Tess increases capability, she does, extremely. In the last scene, Tess turns up to her brand-new profession, which she thinks is a secretarial position, in a heavily shoulder-padded jacket. But when she realises she is actually the boss, the coat starts to slip off her shoulders. It’s 1988, newborn, and a brand-new era is beginning: no longer do large-scale shoulders symbolise female power.

( Whether then having Harrison Ford then parcel Griffith’s ickle wickle lunch casket for her, as if she were his toddler daughter instead of his extremely impressive lover, symbolises female power is a question we shall have to save for another day .)

But your question touches, I feel, on something that extends well beyond suits, Cyrus. The question isn’t what time ambitious women wear in the movies these days, it’s why aren’t they celebrated in movies the course they used to be?

Fortunately, a movie comes out tomorrow that exemplifies the degree. Now, you might have thought that if I had written a 2,500 -word article on A Star Is Born last week for this paper I might have got that film out of my method. Well, you, your best friend, have underestimated just how much I overthink popular culture. Now who’s looking like the foolhardy one?

While the new A Star Is Born puts very closely to the 1954 and 1976 versions of this movie, it differs in one huge and instruct way: whereas in the earlier cinemas the female reputation becomes more successful than the man because she is more talented, in the new version it is just because she becomes a creative sell-out. Instead of manufacturing Ally( Lady Gaga) a better singer-songwriter than Jack( Bradley Cooper ), the movie has her jettison her songwriting skill in order to become a pop star who sings garbage pop psalms, colours her fuzz silly colours and introduces up with cheesy parties around her. Thus, Jack remains An Artist while Ally is just a plastic product.

It is a fascinating twist, partly because Cooper targeted the movie and this is a definite change to the franchise that flatters his persona. It is also interesting to do this to the movie now, in an epoch when female papa virtuosoes are such a prevailing personnel: Beyonce, Taylor, Rihanna, Ariana and- oh yeah!- Lady Gaga. The whole thing may seem like a reassuring tap on the shoulder to all the male artists to stay in their dust, and it’s very weird to see Gaga play a persona who feels too close for solace. But this also feels like the natural conclusion to the direction Hollywood movies have been going in for the past few decades. Once female ambition was normal- seductive, even. Most clearly, in 1940′ s His Girl Friday, Hildy’s( Rosalind Russell) professionalism is what Walter( Cary Grant) adores about her and, even when they marry at the end, it’s obvious they are going to work on their honeymoon, and he is delighted by it. In Working girl, female ambition is sexy, in the form of Griffith- as long as she doesn’t become more successful than the three men, a number of problems embodied by Weaver.

Which brings us to the 21 st century and all you need to do to see how bad things have got is to compare Kay Thompson’s character in 1957′ s Funny Face with Meryl Streep’s in 2006′ s The Devil Wears Prada: they are both fashion magazine editors, but Streep’s professionalism is taunted whereas Thompson’s is admired.( And, of course, in genuine 21 st-century romcom style, its possible conclusion of the latter film is that the young female character should give up her excellent work and try to get her boyfriend back. Yay maidens !)

The question isn’t what ambitious women should wear in movies but when will ambitious dames learn their lesson and give up their jobs for their souls? Ally doesn’t in the latest A Star Is Born and, well, we all know how that is about to change. A salutary fib to learn from, ladies.


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