Books and Movies Reviews

Pretty Woman – 1980s Economy, Class, and Gender Relations

The 1980s was the time of The Reagan Revolution. Reagan used supply-side economics as a way to justify cutting taxes. This held in that tax reductions towards investors and businesses would create more jobs and set the economy on a better path. Another issue that was gaining momentum was the women's movement. Many social and economic changes were happening during the 80s; this can be seen in the pop culture of the 80s. Pretty Woman (1990) is an example hereof. A movie where one of the main characters is a prostitute, Vivian Ward and the other is a business tycoon, Edward Lewis. These two individuals come from completely different social classes, and their authority on others is on different levels. I want to argue that Pretty Woman shows the division between classes and the economic aftereffects of the Reagan-era and that women, as portrayed in the movie, only had glimpses of independence.
Pretty Woman's portrayal of class differences can be seen throughout the movie. In the opening scenes, this is characterized by lighting, Edward's scene is well-lit and the surroundings are clean. In contrast, Vivian's scene is dark with a messy environment along with mutilated photographs.This reflects the differences in their living situations. Another scene that stands out is when Vivian goes shopping thefirst time to buy a cocktail dress. The saleswomen on Rodeo Drive do not want anything to do with Vivian. They simply tell her "I don't think we have anything for you. You're obviously in the wrong place. Please leave" (Pretty Woman). This is said to Vivian even after she says that she has "money to spend." Because she is dressed in revealing attire that does not resemble that of a middle- or upper-class woman, she is denied help and asked to leave. Max Weber writes: "Status position is not determined by class position alone: possession of money or the position of entrepreneur are not…

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