The Sydney Pollack movie Tootsie (1982), named one of the top 100 American films by the American Film Institute, is a successful attempt to portray the public pressures on the first generation of women trying to get into the workplace en masse by using the intricacies of the image-making industry - the media - that houses our collective prejudices and the distorted collective identities of marginalized groups like the women and minorities.
The television industry has been exploited to get into the details of the sad, painful compromises women are seen to make so as to cover distance and make headway in the world of careers that has traditionally been the domain of men. In the process we are also given the gift of hope for the often-encountered hopeless, dead-end streets of the maze called gender relations and cross-gender communication, pithily summarized at the end of the movie by the lead character Michael Dorsey (Dustin Hoffman) when he tells Julie Nichols (Jessica Lange) that he was "a better man as a woman, and I need to learn to do it without the dress." "I was a better man with you as a woman than I ever was with a woman as a man. Know what I mean?"
Dorothy also known as Michael
Dustin Hoffman character has great depth to it as I look at it. Dustin's portrayal as a woman starts out as an effort to prove he can find work and secure a sought after role. The role advances to the point where s/he is making money. Does he end up being a better person by his understanding of what is going on? I think so. Through Dustin's portrayal of Dorothy Micheals we are exposed to both sides of the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes. Whether one could call him a beacon or emblem that is open to debate. Mr. Hoffman seems to fashion his career around playing difficult roles. One of my favourite scenes is where Dustin/Dorothy tells Dabney Coleman not to call her/him "Tootsie." I think this is a...