An erotic neorealist examination of corruption, and the coercive forces at play in the vibrant, seedy sex industry of Manila, Lino Brocka's Macho Dancer is a wonderfully conceptualized melodrama that exposes the exploitation of the desperate while managing to never fall victim to reductive, puritanical reasoning as it pertains to sexuality and personal autonomy. For Brocka, the diasporic nature of the big city and the promises it projects of a better life are myopic and deceitful to the true complexities at play. The economic opportunities of the city attract not only those simply seeking a better life but also those looking to exploit the desperate or needy, and perhaps what Macho Dancer elucidates so well is how it has little to do with legality - the influx of money breeds corruption that obfuscates any standing political and social relationships, outside of individualistic attainment. Macho Dancer draws no true distinction between state operatives or other criminal elements who exploit the desperate, recognizing that the various ways in which individuals are coerced have little to do with legality and everything to do with greed. Fundamentally, the name of the game is extracting monetary value, and Brocka shows disdain for the type of lifestyle, exposing how a sense of community is non-existent with disparate individuals all maneuvering through the city in an effort to help themselves. A deeply sensual experience, Brocka's Macho Dancer is an erotic melodrama that understands one can embrace sexuality and pleasure while simultaneously critiquing the coercive forces at play within sex work.
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