Why "Magic Mike" is the Workplace Movie of the Year

by Matthew Stollak on Tuesday, July 3, 2012


Yes, a movie about male strippers is the workplace movie of the year.

Its a perfect parable for these times.  "Magic" Mike (Channing Tatum) is a budding entrepreneur working a roofing job, and stripping on the side with the hopes of raising enough capital to overcome his poor credit score and poor housing market to run his own custom furniture business.    He meets Adam (Alex Pettyfer), a former college football player, who is down on his luck after getting into a fight with his coach and deciding college is not for him.

All the characteristics of a good workplace movie are there.  Its got...

Recruiting - Magic Mike recruits Adam to work for the strip club.

Orientation - Adam is shown around backstage, meets his fellow employees.

On-the-job training - On his first night, he's thrown to the wolves, so to speak, as he gets on stage to strut his stuff.   While he shows all the grace of a marionette, Club owner Dallas (Matthew McConaughey) sees something in him.  Later, we have the inevitable training scene where Dallas shows him the proper dance moves.

Compensation - Adam is surprised to see how those $1 bills pile up, and Dallas has big plans to open up a big strip club megaplex in Miami, where the strippers hope to get equity as a benefit.

Health and safety - We see on-the-job injuries as Richie strains his back lifting a heavyset woman.  It also deals with the downside of stripping and nightclub life...coping with drugs and depression.    

Employee Relations - It wouldn't be a drama without a little conflict.  Adam starts dealing drugs, loses his stash, and Mike has to cover for him so Adam won't get hurt.  Would you do that for a co-worker?  Similarly, Mike and Dallas clash about the future direction of the business

Career paths - The allegory of the movie, of course, is that people often make a choice between money vs. satisfaction and fulfillment.  Here, as in most jobs, whatever benefits you receive at first (money, easy access to women) outweigh the negatives, but, over time, it is hard to enthusiastic about a job solely for the cash.

So, check out Magic Mike...though it is highly unlikely I will be showing it in my HR class anytime soon.


Channing Tatum is really growing on me since 21 Jump Street. I might actually give it a shot, but I don't think I could enjoy it if I made parallels to HR ... Let me keep one part of my life clear of words like compliance and benefits admin, will ya? :)

by Lizzie on July 3, 2012 at 10:38 AM. #

Hollywood keeps pushing Channing Tatum on me...didn't I have a vote?

I might've ruined Magic Mike for you, but you've now ruined Weeds for me :)

by Matthew Stollak on July 3, 2012 at 11:23 AM. #

Like the post and great list, but you missed a common component of the work environment, sexual harassment !

by Employment law tips on July 7, 2012 at 6:47 AM. #

If sexual harassment was even a minor point in the film, I would have brought it up. There was a male boss (Dallas) and male subordinates. Dallas was not sexually harassing his workers. At most, in the beginning, Dallas warns customers about where appropriate touching could take place, but the issue was not addressed beyond that.

by Matthew Stollak on July 8, 2012 at 8:59 PM. #

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