My first experience with Steel Magnolias was looking at my mom’s eyes after she saw it for the first time. They were all red from crying, but she was smiling. So when I asked her if she liked it, she said yes, and I asked her if it was a comedy or a drama. And she said it was both.
In the movie, Dolly Parton says that laughter through tears is her favorite emotion, so I realize now that my mom had been gobsmacked by this movie. Since I’d just sat through The War of the Roses instead, I felt robbed. So I watched it on video. And then I rewound it and watched it again. And then I watched it again. And then I would just rewind that locker room scene with all the naked football players and watch that a couple times. And then I would watch it again. I think I’ve memorized Steel Magnolias by now. Which is a good thing. Because every other gay man in the city has, too.
I keep thinking that this is the movie that taught me – through Shirley MacLaine as Ouiser – how to be a bitch, but that’s unfair, sexist and robs Designing Women of the credit it rightfully deserves in my bitchiness. Steel Magnolias really just taught me how to be a strong, Southern woman with a ‘brown football helmet’ worth of big hair – which made then a very confusing time for me at age 13.
It also molded how I’d like to die. I want to pass away like Julia Roberts does, in mid-sentence. In other movies, people get to say everything they want before they kick it. Julia falls into a coma midway through a sentence, picking up the ungrateful toddler she pretty much killed herself to create. (I would also like to skinny dip with a 25-year-old Dylan McDermott, please.)
Have you ever gotten a haircut in the backroom of someone’s house, Gina?
Oh dear sweet Jesus, this movie. How can 32 seconds bring back so much?
Perhaps it’s the amount of pastels diffused through a Moonlighting lens of vaseline that makes everything seem feminine and golden and far away. So 1980’s and elevated and removed. Perhaps it’s that goddamned weird taxi company font they use to tell the audience how good it’s gonna be….
I don’t know that I’ve felt as old as I do at this moment. Why does this look like a relic?
All I know is that this movie is a signifier for every southern girl raised in the 80’s, especially for the ones that would grow up to love gay men (track lighting.). This movie also helped me solidify my love for Dolly and my irrational hatred of Julia Roberts.
“Drink your juice, Shelby” has become a joke when I want someone I dislike to just shut the fuck up and deal with something. I still get so mad when I think of how Julia Roberts cries in the Juice Scene and unnecessarily messes up the huge bouffant that Dolly has sculpted onto her ungrateful horse head. When the angel hands of Dolly touch you, you Never Ever undo her work. I don’t care if your diabeetus is making you cry and widen your mouth like some goddamned worm-lipped reptile unhinging its jaw, you keep your hands OFF. OF.THAT. HAIR.
To answer your question, my mother regularly butchered my hair as a kid, but that’s it. Further, if Dolly offered to shave my head in a 1980 Winnebago with shot shocks, I would say yes.
This movie is such a glorious clusterfuck of southern mediocrity and camp; how could I not know every line?
The roles the women played in this somehow just…became who I thought of as the actresses actual personas. Perfect casting had a baby with a horrible script and Darryl Hannah is the Virgin Whore that shines a Christmas pageant light on the whole hot mess.
“A Glorious Clusterfuck of Southern Mediocrity” sounds like the tagline for a Valdosta orgy.
Let’s go back to that football locker room scene where Olympia Dukakis does color commentary and uses the WORST SOUTHERN ACCENT EVER COMMITTED TO FILM. It’s because of her that I can never properly pronounce “aubergine.”
Anyway, that scene. Those 14 or so naked men with mullets were extras whose faces are unseen. (And that scene probably explains why I became a waterboy for my high school football team.) It’s just a parade of faceless, beautiful Louisiana man-ass that Ouiser checks out in her compact.
How exactly do you get extras to agree to nudity? I bet they had Dolly ask really nice. Hell, Dolly could probably make me do anything – except watch Rhinestone again. This movie makes me consider how I feel about the women I associate with it. I love my mom. I love Dolly. I am still bothered by Julia Roberts’ horseface.
Sally Field as M’Lynn bugs me. I don’t think white women have any business putting apostrophes in their name.
I think we’ve sussed out some important truths here, Ben.
- If Dolly were installed as a benevolent dictator after a corseted, be-wigged coup, we’d be ok with it. I knew there were some fundamentally sound reasons why you and I are friends. Dolly could strip us, shave us, film it and sell it and we’d ask for more bluegrass down home witticisms with juice-drinking-grins on our faces. Dolly could remove her plastic face to reveal that she is a Destroyer of Worlds, and we’d tap our toes and wish we were related to her. Some day I look forward to kneeling at her throne made from the bones of mortals.
- I, too, enjoy the anonymous asses and boobs of underpaid extras in 1980’s movies. Locker room and dorm scenes formatively helped me draw some pretty confusing lines around voyeurism/sexual curiosity/tan lines which I’m sure are completely legal and in no way harmful. Did Rhinestone have naked extras? I bet that would have made the movie a lot better. Shit, it would have made Steel Magnolias better. Show us your butt, Olympia Dukakis!
- Julia Roberts? Nope. Never.
- I will be Ouiser just so I can give Tom Skerritt a bit of ass. Well, 1980’s Skerritt.
Now let’s go shoot at some birds while we wear formal dress.
Steel Magnolias was released in theaters November 15, 1989.