An insightful article about prisoners and prostitutes from Ethika Politika:
“Last night, I finally went to see the much acclaimed (and otherwise lamented) film, Les Misérables. Never having read the book—and not being the “musical type”—I had no inclination of the plot development or outcome. Happily, though, my interests were soon piqued: within about thirty seconds, as soon as it became clear that the main protagonist was serving a wrongful, extended prison term, I knew only good things could await. Coupled with the shortly-to-follow descent of another protagonist into coerced harlotry, my expectations began to soar. (You can imagine, of course, my absolute bliss at the final, counterpunctual demise of Javert.)
“Morals of the story and vocal aptitude notwithstanding (although not necessarily so), Les Misérables was a wonderful example of the universal power of prisoners, prostitutes, and their oppressors to function as maybe the most compelling literary agents available to our imaginations.
“I’ve reflected on this possibility before, but now I’m quite convinced. Time and again, in film or paperback, I’ve noticed that the stories that most effectively stir my soul—those which communicate most clearly some undoubted yet still unspeakable beauty, and which warrant ever so gently my real response—are those that turn on the troubles of prisoners and prostitutes. Maybe more interestingly, it rarely seems to matter just why these troubles persist. Forced or willing, guilty or innocent, the simple reality of either is enough to make me ponder, cringe, and reconsider.
“The same seemed to be true last night for my wife, as well as for the octogenarian couple beside me, and the row of (emotionally wrecked) teenage girls behind us. I’ve never had the chance to speak with any of these people, save my wife, about my affinity for Dostoevsky’s Notes from the Underground, or Florian Henckel von Donnersmark’s Das Leben der Anderen. (The latter, for those who haven’t seen it, wins my highest recommendation.) Yet I suspect that they would all find in these something equally stirring—provided that Russian verbosity and the German language aren’t too much of a distraction.”