Showgirls (1995)

Dir. by Paul Verhoeven

Another post in today’s Showgirls-a-thon. (Or is that a-thong?)

I can’t seem to find it now, but one of my all-time favorite Onion headlines is something like, “Area Man No Longer Able to Enjoy Ironically.” He’s a guy in his early-30s, married, maybe with a kid (I don’t remember), and one day he looks around his house, sees his Chia Pet or his KISS Meets the Phanton of the Park VHS tape or his collection of vintage mood rings or his David Soul albums — he sees whatever particular brands of kitsch he happens to have bought while thinking, “This is the greatest, stupidest thing I’ve ever seen!” — and he looks at this crap that litters his shelves and his walls and that fills his garage and his basement and he realizes, finally, that it’s crap. It’s all crap.

I’m willing to admit a certain fondness for Starship Troopers, Paul Verhoeven’s satire of fascism and the pornography of violence, but whatever it is that inspires some to extoll the virtues of Showgirls . . . well, I just don’t got it. That’s not to say that there isn’t something intellectually interesting about a film that remakes All About Eve with hundreds of bare breasts and still manages to be less erotic than, say, an episode of Quincy. (Surely Verhoeven knew he was making the, um, limpest of blue movies. I mean, a single still image of Gina Gershon’s mouth is sexier than this entire film.) But, to me, whatever parodic or subversive effects might be at work in the film — and that’s a big “might” — are undone by the movie’s crassness and by its remarkable lack of wit.

About thirty minutes into Showgirls — last night’s was my first viewing — I started fast-forwarding and continued doing so off and on throughout. I would guess that it took me about 90 minutes to watch the 128-minute film. I wanted it to end quickly because the scenes at the Cheetah Club gave me an urge to watch something else instead: John Cassavetes’s The Killing of a Chinese Bookie. The pathetic joke-teller in Showgirls, Henrietta ‘Mama’ Bazoom, reminded me of Mr. Sophistication, who is also pathetic, of course, but who is allowed some life and dignity as well. I prefer my entertainments non-ironic, I guess.