Reel Girl Talk x 9 to 5
Although being a member of The MUFF Society is, honestly, a 24/7 gig (in the best, most empowering way!), this September, we MUFFians had to work it Wednesday from 6 to 9. That’s when we held the launch of our newest series, Reel Girl Talk!
As a brand-new MUFFian (I did help out with last year’s Ginger Snaps screening through my site, Cinefilles, but the MUFF gals did most of the major work!), I have to say I was about as nervous as poor secretarial newbie Judy Bernly on her first day of work going into R.G.T.’s big launch (a screening of 9 to 5 followed by a panel on women in the workplace!). But much like Judy after a few days on the job, I quickly changed my tune after I got to the theatre. Once people started trickling into the Imagine Carlton Cinemas lobby to pose in front of our sparkly backdrop, 9 to 5 quote bubbles in one hand and Cups of Ambition (our monthly MUFFtail: iced coffee and Baileys!) in the other, I got a feeling this was going to be some kind of special night. (Not like, Maui Wowee “special”, but special nonetheless!).
As if some of the pre-show fun wasn’t enough a primer for the rest of the R.G.T. festivities, we had a pretty great, pretty vocal crowd out for the screening portion. We’re talking hoots and hollers after I read a special intro sent to us from none other than 9 to 5 screenwriter Patricia Resnick (you can read it in full here). We’re talking full-out belly laughs at any of the glorious one-liners from Jane Fonda, Dolly Parton and Dolly Parton. We’re also talking cheers whenever any of the gals stuck it to The Man (a.k.a. their on-screen boss, played by Dabney Coleman, who would, weirdly enough go on to be president … in a Disney Channel movie). Basically, whether you came into that theatre having seen the movie hundreds of times on VHS back in the ‘80s, or were there to give it a first go, you were welcome to raucously root for our leading ladies and their fight for equality. If that’s not what MUFF is about, I don’t know what is!
Buzzed on boozy coffee, sass and a desire to win one of our fab prizes (two prize packs from awesome sponsor shomi and a special MUFF pack featuring a vintage 9 to 5 mug!), the majority of the screening crowd stuck around for our post-show discussion. The half-hour talk was moderated Chandler Levack (writer of former Mini MUFF selection Lunchbox Loser and founder of Feminist Live Reads) and featured bevvy of brilliant young women in various parts of the creative workforce (Jessica Sikora, Labour Activist, Ontario Public Service Employees Union; Jenny Tang and Emily Milling, Creators of Her Name Is podcast; and Joella Crichton and Imogen Grace, Founders of The Bechdel Bill).
Our first Reel Girl Talk touched on everything from film itself (Q: How does it hold up after 36 years? A: Great … although, we’d love some more diversity and also how about more part-timers or people with second jobs?), to the panelists’ personal experiences with work (most have struggled to get, or stay in, 9 to 5 jobs), to ways we can promote equality here and now (suggestions included speaking out about injustice, whether at work directly or at rallies/other events). It was great to hear some feedback from the audience as well, particularly in terms of solutions and how varying levels of privilege can affect the way we approach them.
Sadly, we had to cut off the discussion just as it was getting particularly impassioned (hey, the theatre has other screenings to attend to!). As we move forward to the next R.G.T. event (January, ladies and gents!), we’ll be searching for new ways to include the audience in our discussions. After all, the reason we started this series is to get people talking about important issues facing women and other marginalized groups. And by people we mean both the handful of women we select to share their experiences on stage, and the various groups who chose to come and listen to them.
Speaking of, it was super rad to see a number of R.G.T attendees hanging out in the lobby after the film to talk about labour issues facing Ontario workers! (Not rad: hearing that some of our panelists were confronted.) If 9 to 5 can teach us anything (aside from, you know, the fact that we still have A LONG WAY TO GO in terms of equal rights for women), it’s that, in many cases, in order to start making changes, we have to put aside our differences and get real (or, in our case, reel) with one another.
See you in October for a movie that also takes prejudice head-on (pun intended, of course), Legally Blonde!