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What a Way to Make a Living!
by Karma Waltonen

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Almost thirty years since the movie came out, the Broadway musical version of 9 TO 5 has premiered.

As you may remember, 9 TO 5 was a movie about the workplace. It's a revenge fantasy and very much a film about sexism, though classism, anti-unionism, and other isms come up, too. The movie would be terribly didactic if it weren't also terribly funny.

Judy is a new employee at consolidated, having entered the workforce after her husband left her for his secretary. There, she is introduced to Violet, who runs the floor, while her boss (whom she trained) takes credit for her work. She also meets the boss's secretary, Doralee.
Rumor has it that Doralee is sleeping with the boss, but it's the boss who started the rumor.

The women commiserate when they are pushed over the edge. A night of drinking and smoking allows them to blow off steam as they fantasize about how they would each teach the boss a lesson. (It's surprising that they don't include a certain sycophantic employee in these fantasies.) Then, a mishap starts making their fantasies come true, but they find out it's not as fun as they thought, as the real world has consequences for attempted murder and kidnapping.

Looking back, we forget that this was Dabney Coleman's first big role, that it
was Dolly Parton's first role ever, and that even Lily Tomlin wasn't very well known in movies before this. The first time I saw the movie, I was more familiar with all of them than I was with the producer and star of the film, Jane Fonda.

The inexperienced Dolly Parton thought that she had to memorize every line of the script she was given. They teased her, but I'm pretty sure they weren't mean about it. How could anyone be mean to Dolly?

After all, Dolly has the best line in the film. When confronting the "sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot," she assures him that she has a gun and that she could change him
"from a rooster to a hen in one shot."

I'm not sure that's how it works, but it's still fun to say.

Have things changed all that much? Well, laws have been made prohibiting sexual harassment, though it still happens. There still isn't equal pay for equal work (Obama was able to sign into law something that will make it easier to redress pay inequality in the courts, but discrimination in hiring and pay is still with us). We still don't have an equal rights amendment. Many people still think feminism is a bad word. But yes, it's better than it was, thanks to male and female feminists alike.

So, what would you do to your boss?

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Comedies with Dr. Karma
Every other Wednesday

Dr. Karma discusses all things comic, from the classics to what may become classics. Laugh with, but not at, her, please.

Other Columns
Other columns by Karma Waltonen:

Goodbye -- Dr. Karma

The Dictator and Dark Shadows

Pirates and Whedon Movies: In Theatres Now!

A Touch of Cult

Our Random Favorites

All Columns

Karma Waltonen
Dr. Karma is a silly, nerdy know-it-all, but in a good way. She brings all her overeducation to discuss that which truly matters: comedy. As some famous guy once said: “And if I laugh at any mortal thing, ‘tis that I may not weep.” Or something like that.

If you have a comment, question, or suggestion, you can send a message to Karma Waltonen by clicking here.

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