From the earliest ages of cinema, the “prostitute with a heart of gold” has been a stock character in comedies, romances and dramas alike. The legendary producer Samuel Goldwyn is reputed to have roared: “Get me a P with an H of G!”
But that was the 20th century. Goldwyn died 46 years ago and there will be many who assumed the most clichéd of fictional female characters had been laid to rest after years of debate about sexism in the entertainment industry and the rise of the #MeToo movement.
Instead, the cheerful, resilient prostitute epitomised by Julia Roberts’s performance in the 1990 film Pretty Woman is about to make a comeback in London’s West End.
There are some number of ex-prostitutes out there. Who have married, had families, carried on life just as in any other such nuclear unit.
Why the problem in portraying such?
It has all proved too much for anti-sexism campaigners such as Sandi Toksvig, the broadcaster and co-founder of the Women’s Equality Party. “I wonder if the all-male creative team that produced Pretty Woman have had much experience of being prostituted?” she said. “If not that may explain why their dance moves leap so nimbly over the links with trafficking and abuse. Better representation of women on screen and stage doesn’t just mean picking things with ‘women’ in the title.”
Sandi’s getting dangerously close to the line that if you’ve ever once shagged for money then that’s that, no more normal life for you. Which will come as a hell of a surprise to a certain number of women.
Sorta the one drop of semen, as opposed to blood with the colour bar, damns you.
Bit of an oddity, isn’t it?