The side of a strip club you never knew

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Photo Credit:

Danielle Dix, News Editor

A group of strippers is on a mission to con their Wall Street customers and look good while doing it.

Jennifer Lopez, Constance Wu from Crazy Rich Asians, Lili Reinhart from Riverdale, former Nickelodeon star Keke Palmer, and guest appearances by artists Cardi B and Lizzo take “girl power” to an extreme.

This is Hustlers. 

Set in 2007 to 2013, Dorothy, known in the strip club as Destiny (Constance Wu), explores the difficulties and advantages of stripping for Wall Street employees.

At first, she lacks confidence due to not being used to showing off her body and seducing men. She meets Ramona (Jennifer Lopez) and gets taught the ins and outs of the strip club. Together they are a powerful duo that makes a commentary on friendship, family, and motherhood. 

The movie gives insight into the struggles exotic dancers face such as misogyny, disrespectful clients and the strain stripping can put on relationships. However, it also shows the bonds that can form between these women with their shared experiences and life stories. 

When the financial crash of 2008 happens, and Destiny gets pregnant, Ramona and Destiny lose touch. Destiny tries to work retail jobs and realizes the money isn’t enough. 

Destiny’s struggle as a single mother in a recession is raw and hard-hitting.

When she and Ramona find each other again, Destiny expresses that she wants to be “independent” and “not rely on anyone else.” Ramona expresses how she wants to give her own daughter the ability to be whatever she desires in life.

Although the relationship between Ramona and Destiny is unconventional, Ramona becomes a mentor for Destiny in all aspects of her life.

For a large part of the movie, their relationship is wholesome and authentically positive. 

Things start to go downhill when Ramona introduces Destiny to her “side hustle.” Ramona and her friends, Annabelle (Lili Reinhart) and Mercedes (Keke Palmer), would drug unsuspecting men and steal their credit card information. 

At first, no one catches on to Ramona’s plans, and the women successfully steal hundreds of thousands of dollars from men that have no memory of the previous night.

As they continue, Ramona becomes greedy and sloppy, recruiting careless women and going after risky targets. Destiny becomes conflicted with her desire to please Ramona but also wanting to be a good role model for her daughter. 

Viewers see how difficult it is for Destiny to let go of the friendship that has kept her afloat for so long. When Ramona detects Destiny’s reluctance to continue, she becomes angry and tells her she is an “ungrateful bitch.”

Eventually, the police catch on to Ramona and the other girls’ wrongdoings and they are arrested.

Destiny decides to give out information in order to avoid going to prison and leaving her daughter. At first, Ramona is furious, but then respects Destiny’s decision because of their mutual understanding of what it means to be a mother. 

Hustlers gives a brilliant look into what it means to be a woman and a mother in a harsh world. The characters’ motivations are authentic and relatable, making many viewers sympathize with them even after all the things they have done.

Through the flashy visuals and gaudy outfits, Hustlers challenges our preconceived assumptions on strippers and their lifestyles and gives every viewer the chance to see them in a new light.