“Tootsie” (1982) – Directed by Sydney Pollack
The drama “Tootsie” is about an unemployed actor – Michael Dorsey who wants to raise fund for his friend’s drama and therefore he decides to work for money. However, as he is serious in acting, directors find him difficult to get along with; therefore, Michael can only cross-dressed to be Dorothy Michaels in order to get a job. In my opinion, the drama presents the idea of gender stereotypes, which shows the idea of biased view on different gender. For instance, in the 1980s, there are raising concerns on striving equal status between two genders, however, there are still prejudice in people’s mind, such as female cannot be the leaders since they are rather emotional.
In the drama, Michael Dorsey is a protagonist which refers to the main character who changes his/her attitude during the play, from the beginning of the play, Michael is a person who thinks he can handle things well and treats his acting as a major goal in his life. However, as a male, he does not know how to handle the relationship seriously. After his experience in acting as a female, and the “inspiration” of how Ron, his “soap opera” director treats Julie, he starts to change his attitudes towards women. In the following scenes, they show how Michael changes and how the dramatic meaning show that writer wants to communicates with audiences.
Michael Dorsey talks with Jeff at their house after the first day of acting Background
When Michael starts his first job bring a woman in the soap opera, he goes back to the house and has a talk with his friend, Jeff. They talk about the experience in the first day of drama; also, how the director, Ron, treats him and Julie. Jeff seems not interested in and started to get annoyed about the attitudes of Michael.
The scene demonstrates the variations between two characters’ moral stances, how Michael thinks about Dorothy and also the languages used in the informal setting. This shows the meaning about views on moral issues between male and female, what prejudgment Michael has, also, Michael starts to notice Dorothy’s intelligence on handling difficulties. Through these dramatic elements, the dramatic meaning of gender stereotype is created.
In the beginning of the scene, Michaels is combing the wig of Dorothy and says “she (Julie) is a very… very attractive girl, and she is not dummy, I don’t know why she hangs around with that director, he treats her like… Jesus… nothing!” This implies Michael thinks intelligent woman should not act like a “dumb blonde” who only relied on her looks rather than on intelligence (Sherrow, 2006). This is a feminine stereotype that Michael prejudges, without knowing Julie, he might not change his conception towards actresses who hang out with directors.
As we can see from the setting, the room is messy, clothes are everywhere, but Michael as a man, and surprisingly he is combing the wig carefully, which on the one hand shows that he respects his work, on the other hand, as he says, Dorothy deserves it as she represents a strong image of being her own master. According to McDonald (1996), “Our apparel was given us as a sign distinctive to discern betwixt sex and sex and therefore one to wear the apparel of another sex is to participate with the same, and to adulterate the verity of his own kind.” This specifies that when Michael dresses up as Dorothy, he experiences what a female experiences and to be, not only act like a female. For that reason, Michael expresses that Dorothy’s disobedience towards Ron is something that he did not expect. I started to think that Michael is changing during the play as he tries to understand what a woman will be faced in working environment, at that century, women are difficult to express their own feeling as men are much more powerful in making decision in working environment.
Meanwhile, the phone rang; Jeff wants to answer the phone but Michael stands up to stop him....
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