Released: 1st February
Seen: 22nd July
The last year has not exactly been easy for anyone, but especially those in a regular nine to five job that found themselves suddenly unable to work and make the pittance they’d been making previously. Seems like finally this idea of barely getting by with a back breaking job has found a limit that can’t be ignored, since we now know that at any moment something can happen that will just force the planet to shut down for a year. What we’re seeing now, as things very slowly start approaching normal (APPROACHING, we are nowhere near normal again and stop acting like it) is workers have finally had enough of their low wages and poor treatment and are fighting back… a story that feels eerily similar to the one told in the documentary 9to5: The Story of A Movement
9to5 (as I will call it from here on out) tells the story of the fight by female workers to finally get better treatment from their male bosses, not only in terms of dealing with the constant sexual harassment but also demanding higher pay and access to benefits that they required to do their job. The film follows them from the start of the movement through protests, unionisations and even the moment when their fight inspired the 2nd highest grossing movie of 1980… and then it keeps going through the movement until today’s modern version.
Anybody currently engaging in activism around equal pay in the workplace should view this film as a how-to guide for what to do and what to expect. The stories of the women who realised how they were being treated was, to put it kindly, shitty as all hell are absolutely fascinating. Learning the details about how they organised their protests for maximum impact are lessons that workers of today would do well to learn. Watching these heroic women stand up for their rights is powerful and hearing them talk about how hard it was can easily break your heart.
The smart thing that 9to5 does is to turn the creation of the film Nine to Five into a midpoint, something that’s certainly brought up and talked about but it doesn’t end the story being told. We only really have a brief talk with one of the stars, Jane Fonda (appropriate for a film about activism) about how the filmmakers talked to the women who had actually created the 9to5 movement before we’re moving on to what happened to this movement after the film got released. I could very easily imagine a version of this film where they turned the creation of a hit film into the climax and it’s nice to see they didn’t do that here.
Every couple of minutes of 9to5 has just another quick little revelation about how hard it was to get things to change for the better,but seeing the little steps of progress over the course of an hour and a half is powerful and gives me some hope that maybe we can repeat some of that energy for the modern workforce. It’s a real pick me up documentary, as in it makes you want to pick yourself up and go to work to make things better for everyone.
9to5: The Story Of A Movement is a powerful piece that should be a blueprint for others to follow. It’s a stark reminder that there are people who had to fight to improve things before so we can absolutely fight to improve things. This is a film that will hopefully inspire a new generation to stand up for their rights and demand better… hell, we’re at a point in society where our billionaires are going into space in giant metal dicks, it’s about damn time we had another big batch of unions to put the fear of God into those at the top.