“There are too many interesting women I have not had the experience to know in this life because I have been brainwashed.”
By now you’ve probably either seen or heard about the video of Dustin Hoffman tearing up in an interview about the film “Tootsie”. This 3-minute video circulated ALL over the web, but if you haven’t seen this, WATCH IT – especially if you’re a man, because I’d like to know what you think about what Dustin says. For those unfamiliar with the film, “Tootsie” (1982) was a hilarious and touching movie about an unemployed actor named Michael Dorsey. Desperate, the actor decides to become a woman to see if he has better luck and lands a role on a soap opera. The film is a comedy, but to Dustin it was more. Hoffman took the leading role of Michael Dorsey once it became clear to him how unfairly women were perceived based on their physical attractiveness. Before agreeing to star in “Tootsie”, Hoffman asked Columbia if they would do makeup tests to see how closely he could resemble a woman. Hoffman felt that the costumes and makeup had to be realistic, or else the film should not be made.
“Intuitively, I felt that unless I could walk down the streets of New York dressed as a woman and not have people turn and say, ‘Who’s that guy dressed in drag?’ I didn’t want to make the film. I didn’t want the audience to suspend their believability. When we looked at it on screen, I was shocked that I wasn’t more attractive. If I was going to be a woman, I would want to be as beautiful as possible. They said to me, ‘That’s as good as it gets. That’s as beautiful as we can get you.’ It was at that moment that I had an epiphany, and I went home and started crying.”
When Dustin told his wife how moved he was by his experience with the rigorous standards of female beauty, he felt compelled to make the film.
“I said, ‘I think I’m an interesting woman when I look at myself on screen. But I know if I met myself at a party, I would never talk to that character because she doesn’t fulfill, physically, the demands that we are brought up to think women have to have in order for us to ask them out. There are too many interesting women I have not had the experience to know in this life because I have been brainwashed.”
Hoffman ends the move saying, “That was never a comedy for me.” I really love what Dustin says, and am really glad that he was the one to play this role. Another actor may have not taken it as seriously or looked so deeply into the cultural mechanisms that are present once you’re in a woman’s shoe. For a man to have experienced a tiny bit of this and gained some perspective, is huge. Can you imagine living your entire life like this? I do believe that what Dustin says can apply to men as well. Just as a very small percentage of women fit into the narrow-minded beauty standards that have been created and propelled in our society, men are also held to a standard. Without a doubt, many men can relate to not fitting into that small category and feeling ignored or looked over. However, I believe that women experience it to a much higher degree and sometimes it takes experiencing it for yourself to understand just how amplified it is.