By Tonya Jone Miller | March 7, 2013
Yesterday I sacrificed an hour and a half of my life in service to The Cause. (The Cause being my never-ending quest to root out and expose phone sex fallacies wherever I may find them.) I had been dreading watching For a Good Time, Call… ever since I heard about it. In my take on the Castle phone sex episode, I mentioned why I bristle when phone sex appears in films and television: because the media just gets it so very wrong most of the time. I need a day or two of stewing on the movie before I write my actual review, which I will probably submit to TitsandSass.com, but I’m annoyed enough to write about something else.
There are a couple of egregiously overused sex-worker cliches in tv and film, most notably The Hooker (not to be confused with The Escort), The Stripper, and The Trafficked Sex Slave. Slightly less abused, but no less demeaning and dismissive, is The Phone Sex Operator. The PSO cliche used to be an apathetic 300-pound, white trashy mommy, but over the last decade it has morphed into an archetype I find even more insulting and insidious. Picture Anne Hathaway in Valentine’s Day, or Ari Graynor and Lauren Miller in For a Good Time, Call… The key components of the new PSO cliche are…
Beauty. Today’s PSO isn’t an ugly troll, she’s gorgeous. She is much more beautiful than any of the adult models whose stock photos she uses to represent her phone sex persona. And the character is often portrayed as just an average girl, in the same way a Victoria’s Secret model is just an average representation of how any woman might look in lingerie.
Shame. These PSO’s are not proud of what they do. They take calls on the sly and keep secrets from everyone around them, from roommates to family to spouses to friends. They think doing phone sex is beneath them and/or makes them a slut.
Ambition. Phone sex is not a career or “real job” to these women, it’s a crutch. They do it as long as they have to and can’t wait to toss it aside for something “better.”
Well pardon me, but I object. To be fair, much of the phone sex part of For a Good Time, Call… is fairly accurate, including the operators who decide they know enough to start their own company when they get tired of paying management to “do nothing.” That I think it’s a crappy movie has little to do with its treatment of phone sex, and will be further explored in my forthcoming review. But I am beginning to tire of seeing the job I treat with respect and conduct with professionalism used as a writers’ default naughty/daring/shocking/embarrassing plot catalyst.
I can totally believe that Miller, the writer/star of the movie, has probably had experience with phone sex at some point in her life, as parts of it do ring true. But that’s like saying a couple drunken girl-on-girl hook-ups in college qualifies one to write an advice column on lesbian dating. For the love of authentic storytelling, Hollywood, the next time you make a full-length motion picture about women who start a phone sex company, talk to a real woman who has started an actual existing phone sex business. Trust me, the women I know in the industry could tell you true stories that are infinitely more entertaining than For a Good Time, Call…