Showgirls has been called the worst movie ever. Well, that’s just not true. While I have serious misgivings about endorsing such a clearly misogynistic film, I felt compelled to at least defend it in some way. Despite the mostly horrible acting on the part of about 98% of the cast, there really is a story there. It’s set in Vegas, and is about strippers and showgirls, so going in, you know it is going to be flamboyant, ostentatious, and way over the top. So don’t act as though you went into this expecting Sophie’s Choice, or something. As you guys know by now, I try to see the story within the story. Either that, or I just think about stuff too much. Probably a bit of both.
We all know Nomi. While I felt strange seeing Jessie Spano’s vagina, I think she is a compassionate character deep down. She truly feels she is a dancer in every sense of the word, and either cannot see she is being exploited or feels that is the only way in the world to get where she wants to be. She has had a tough life, so the viewer can see how she might think that. She also is conflicted about what it is they are actually doing. The audience members at her shows don’t respect her – they just want a little T&A. But I think, redeeming her, towards the end, she realizes it’s all a bunch of bullshit, and not worth it. She finds herself.
Cristal Conners is the quintessential washed up has-been who can’t hear the clock ticking that her time on stage is over. She is struggling to hold onto her fame, beauty, and prestige, with the next generation nipping at her heels. Her love-hate, nearly lesbian relationship with Nomi completely explores this denial. She is attracted to Nomi, yet hates her for the attention she begins receiving, and yearns for her youth, spent getting naked on stage for what some call art, but most call stripping.
James is yet another character who dreams of making it big in the entertainment industry. He sees art in dancing, even erotic dancing, and wants to respect Nomi, and for her to respect herself. His big debut at the Crave Club, that is itself sexually charged but contains no nudity, is poorly received, and it is also revealed that the girl he’s been sleeping with is pregnant, so he plans to marry her. Another dream dashed. No matter what the dream is or was, you would always wonder what might have been. You can see he is crushed that his life is now basically over, and while it does take two to tango, you still feel for the guy for some reason.
Molly is the sweet, best friend of Nomi. Her horrific rape and beating scene is one of the most difficult things to watch, no matter how shitty you think the rest of the movie is. This scene wakes the viewer up and makes them think, “Wow, maybe I should have been paying attention to the underlying story instead of giggling and masturbating”. She really wanted to have one perfect night with her dream guy, singer Andrew Carver, but this is Vegas, and nothing is ever really as it seems. She is gang raped viciously, and the hotel staff including Zack, Nomi’s new boyfriend, refuse to call the police, because of the old ‘families take care of each other’ excuse. I feel it did take this awful moment for Nomi to realize what kind of shit she is into, and that she might be able to salvage some self-respect if she gets out now. But not before kicking Carver’s ass to kingdom come.
You can almost see a child-like quality in Nomi when she is given nice clothes, or realizes Molly is a true friend, or when she gets a callback for an audition, and when she pronounces Versace as “Versayce”. There is still some miniscule amount of innocence still in her, despite the tough exterior she puts out. This movie may not be the best acting wise, but how can anyone say that this is bad? Besides having more nudity than probably any other movie out there, save straight up porn, you might enjoy this movie more if you know what it is from the beginning, and just read into the story underneath all the thongs and glitter. So, don’t lie, you like it, you just probably won’t admit it! It’s definitely crude, crass, and just about every other adjective you could think of, but it is far from the worst movie ever.