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. Such serious issues as prostitution and sex trafficking are hardly comedic. (See my post on The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt). Reactions have resurfaced from many camps with the celebration of the 25th anniversary of Garry Marshall’s Pretty Woman, starring Roberts and Richard Gere.

Kaethe Morris Hoffer, Executive Director of the Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation (CAASE) writes an open letter to Gere in HuffPost. Her plea is that he uses this anniversary to publicly denounce the purchase of sex.

A dominatrix in the UK has a piece in Her title: “Pretty Woman got everything wrong about sex work.” She requests a better understanding of the dangers and 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, he said: “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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Dr. Sandra E. Cohen

I’m Dr. Sandra Cohen, a psychologist and psychoanalyst in private practice in Beverly Hills, CA. I work with creatives in therapy, story/character development, and entertainment consulting. If you are a writer, actor, or director and want help with a character – or a chance to do some of your own personal work - call at 310.273.4827 or email me at to schedule a confidential discussion to explore working together.