Stripper Music Monday: The Sad Stripper Trope Exemplified

by suzyhooker on August 25, 2014 · 10 comments

in Naked Music Monday

Reposted with permission from Jacq the Stripper.

I found this music video. It made me so angry I wanted to vomit.


(Eds. note: this song is absolutely terrible.)

Behold, another sad girl who “drinks all day, dances all night.” She’s sad; she misses her daddy; she’s a cutter; her boss is abusive and – gasp! – she does drugs.

This is the story line of Beech’s new music video, “Dance for the Money.”

About four seconds into it, I want to throw my laptop across the room.

First of all, if we’re dancing all night, we are also probably drinking at the same time. During the day, we are SLEEPING. BECAUSE WE ARE TIRED FROM DANCING FOR YOUR JUDGY SELF.

This sad stripper trope has got to stop.

Right now I’m an ANGRY MOTHERFUCKING STRIPPER.

I don’t even KNOW that many sad strippers. Most of the strippers I know are hilarious, independent, crass, and pissed-the-fuck-off at this endless misrepresentation of our job. But how many ANGRY STRIPPERS are there in movies, music videos, TV shows, books….? There aren’t any. There are only sad ones.

Why are we so sad, Beech?

Because you want us to hate feeling sexy, empowered, independent and, yes, objectified?

Is it too intimidating if we willingly commodify our bodies, and turn a nice profit off it?

Or is a sad girl walking down the street in sweatpants, getting cat-called and NOT making any money just not interesting enough for VH1?

Is the only emotion that could possibly come from making money off our finite youth and beauty… SADNESS? Is that it? That must be it.

Marisa Tomei as a very sad stripper in The Wrestler.

Marisa Tomei as a very sad stripper in The Wrestler.

Or are you just projecting all of your shit onto us? Are you terrified of the possibility that stripping could be FUN?

Don’t fucking pity me. Pay me.

If you hung out with a stripper and just sulked in the corner like you do in the video, that stripper is going to whoop your ass for being such a grumpy gus and not tipping accordingly.

BUT WAIT! There is more: I don’t know how I watched it, but there is a “behind the scenes” video.

Some things I learned:

– This is what inspired the song: “We walked past a strip club every day, and it just looked really depressing. We actually talked to them…” (No mention of what they talked about.)
– The women they cast as the sad strippers are all smiling while on set!
– THE LEAD SINGER CAST HIS WIFE AS THE SADDEST PROTAGONIST-GIRL. She was on Degrassi! Husband describes Wife’s character as, “A runaway. She wanted to be a dancer. But she didn’t fulfill her dream and so she became a stripper… and a prostitute… and a heavy drug user.” Shenae Grimes totally married him for his originality.

BUT WAIT. There is even MORE:

He didn’t want to cast her as the lead, but Shenae Grimes was so passionate that, finally, she tricked her controlling husband into letting her be the sad stripper he thought he maybe talked to once and is now making a music video about.

But, Shenae tells us: “He was a little hesitant about me playing a stripper, so we changed some of the storyline a little bit, so the ‘stripping’ part is actually done by other people.”

Heaven forbid Shenae shows off her body for anyone but her Original Husband!

“Dance For The Money” is one giant misinformed pity part for a profession Beech clearly does not even try to understand, or respect.

Beech, I hope your label paid the dancers enough SINCE NONE OF YOUR BAND MEMBERS APPEAR TO HAVE TIPPED ANY OF THEM IN THE VIDEO.

Beech is going to keep making shitty videos like this one. And there are a lot of Beeches out there.

WE NEED TO CHANGE THIS. WE NEED TO BE LOUDER. WE CAN BE ANGRY, HAPPY, SILLY, AND EVEN SAD SOMETIMES. BUT THIS SAD STRIPPER TROPE IS SO DATED, TWO-DIMENSIONAL AND INSULTING THAT I CANNOT STOP USING CAPS LOCK.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Milica August 25, 2014 at 10:20 am

And of course, we will have the pity party justification of the video AFTER we enjoy all the strippers’ beautiful sexiness first….oh and the whole father bit coming in to stare at her a bit to shame her was creepy as fuck but a nice summary to these patriarchal tropes I suppose

Reply

L.White August 25, 2014 at 1:39 pm

“But how many ANGRY STRIPPERS are there in movies, music videos, TV shows, books….? There aren’t any. There are only sad ones.”

It may be about prostitution rather than stripping, but this is the main reason why I was so happy to discover the Australian show “Satisfaction” – finally, a story about sex workers who actually make the conscious decision of taking up the job (for lots of different reasons, too) and have personalities that go beyond the boohoo-I-sold-my-soul trope that you always see.
Otherwise, movies like “Dancing at the Blue Iguana”, “Exotica” and “Showgirls” have one or two angry strippers, though they do tend to soak in a rather blue, morose mood for the most part. (Though, the Blue Iguana does have some great fraternizing – dare I say “humanizing” – scenes between the strippers themselves, and the fact that the actors were prompted to “improvise” in order to bring depths to their own characters makes for some pretty interesting personalities.)
As for novels, asides from Belle de Jour’s journals I have yet to read novels with a happy sex worker as main character (or even as secondary characters.) But at least there are one or two representations that go further than the eternal “sad stripper”! Will definitely keep searching for more, I know there must be at least /some/ obscure novels out there. ^^

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Caty Simon August 25, 2014 at 1:42 pm

Off topic, but I SO wanted to watch Satisfaction–it used to be on Netflix, but they took it off. Anyone know of where else I can watch it in the US? Also, we’d love it if someone wrote about the show for us at Tits and Sass.

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L.White August 30, 2014 at 3:51 pm

(Psst – not sure if it’s politically correct to say this but Satisfaction is up on Thepiratebay if you want to download it 😉 Pretty good quality, too!)
Also I would love to write a little something about the show for you – except I’m not actually a sex worker, just an interested feminist. ^^” (I mean, if I understood correctly, the published material on this site is primarily written by sex workers so perhaps I wouldn’t be qualified. ^^)

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Caty Simon August 30, 2014 at 6:37 pm

Yeah, sorry, all material on this site is by and for sex workers, with vague exceptions in cases like a sex worker interviewing a non-sex worker, a sex worker collaborating with a non-sex worker, etc. BUT that’s a great idea! We’d love someone to review Satisfaction for us, so if you had a Satisfaction fan sex worker friend you could team up to write such a review with, that’d be awesome.

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Amanda August 26, 2014 at 9:58 am

Anyone who has ever worked in a strip club for one night knows that being all sad and depressed and crying on stage means NO MONEY. All strippers have bad days (we’re human) but no one makes money by trotting out their deepest depression in front of a drunken audience. Especially given how many customers come in with the express intention of making a stripper cry. You have to go to the job every night with battle-tank-quality mental armor.

Angry makes more money than sad, that’s for sure.

re: Satisfaction — It’s Australian. They don’t have the hangups around sex that the UK and US does. Colonization by criminals instead of religious nuts has been a fairly successful social experiment, IMO.

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Sophia Seductions August 26, 2014 at 2:26 pm

Love this site! Love the articles, love the comments…. Thanks for being and so glad I found u actually through my personal fb page from a friends posting! Sites like this help me to stay in education process – Keep it up and again thanks!

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Lindsay September 1, 2014 at 8:15 am

It’s a very good point from Amanda above! When everyone makes money, no one is sad..

Yet I’ve seen example of “sad strippers” but those have problems with there own lifes. Problems that they are affraid to face or they can not solve. Like the girl in the video, she has issues with her own dad, she can not be honest with him like “Look dad, I’m going to be a dancer. I need the money. I respect your opinion but you should respect my choise.” If they work in the local bakery, they would have the same issues just different solution. Probably obesity. Just in the night alcohol and drugs are easier to reach.

And I’m often wondering about customers who come every second night to the club, drunk and/or high and spending stupid money on someone who shows them a little love and attention… so who is the sad here?

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