PRETTY WOMAN: Still Controversy After 25 Years

Does the film that launched Julia Roberts’ stardom insensitively overlook sexual exploitation or is it a romantic comedy that features one man’s fantasy? The jury is still out. It’s very difficult to make a comedy about such serious issues as prostitution and sexual trafficking (see my post on The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt). And, with the celebration of the 25th anniversary of Garry Marshall’s Pretty Woman starring Roberts and Richard Gere, reactions have resurfaced from many camps. Kaethe Morris Hoffer, Executive Director of the Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitatin (CAASE) writes an open letter to Gere in HuffPost with the plea he use this anniversary to publicly denounce the purchase of sex. A dominatrix in the UK has a piece in Metro.co.uk (“Pretty Woman got everything wrong about sex work”) requesting a better understanding of both the dangers and the rights of sex workers to safely make their livings. Richard Gere jokes about his first meeting with Julia Roberts in a preview of Matt Lauer’s Today Show interview: “I was so mesmerized, I don’t remember Gary. I just remember the girl …” Mesmerized is what Gere’s character, Edward, was by Vivian. Where does the answer to the controversy lie? Is it somewhere in the middle, as CNN’s Brandon Griggs and Emanuela Grinberg write in “Pretty Woman’ 25 years later: The good, the bad and the revenge shopping”, detailing the pros and cons of the film. I plan on watching Pretty Woman again before Lauer’s interview airs.

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