How We Thought The Fifties Were
Rather than starting out with one movie at a time (which will be the format in the future), I decided I needed to start this Don’t Quit Your Day Job with something more bold – an example of a concept done wrong and done right. Unfortunately, as usual, the shameful example comes out on top. So here’s my bold statement ladies and gentlemen: I hate Grease.
It is not the songs I hate – they’re kind of catchy, despite some of them being about potential date rape. And to be honest I liked some of the side characters – though they were total jerks they were at least entertaining. What irks me so intensely about this film is the “love story” between Danny and Sandy. If we just look at their first rendezvous, it’s kind of sweet: a pair of strangers fall for each other just to be torn apart by the school year. But then when they discover they go to the same school – uh oh! What will my greaser friends think about me having legitimate feelings for a goody two-shoes?
NO, NOT MY STREET CRED! ANYTHING BUT THAT!
And then Sandy, the new girl, she’s totally fallen for a jerk and then her only friends make fun of her for being so innocent. So what does she do? She doesn’t stand up for herself, she totally succumbs to peer pressure and starts dressing like a 1980s hooker and smoking to impress this guy. It would be one thing if she already had some sort of negative feelings about her self image, but this is a result of ridicule. After all, if he doesn’t publicly admit he likes you, make him admit it rather than moving on to find someone who happily appreciates you for you.
Also does it bother anyone else that none of these people look like high schoolers, and the majority of the plot revolves around a rumor about the wrong baby-daddy? Jeebus it’s almost as bad as MTV!
I honestly don’t know why this became such a hit, but who better to ruin it than John Waters? Twelve years after Grease, he made Cry-Baby- a musical about teen idols and fanaticism set in the 1950s. At first glimpse, it almost looks like a Grease knock-off: we see a greaser and his motley crew and then a preppy girl who catches a glance at Cry-Baby Walker, and knows at that moment that she was born to be bad. Here’s what’s awesome already: Allison, the preppy girl, totally made this decision herself. Granted, she had a pretty solid social standing, but she decided to go after what she wanted herself without being forced by her peers.
The rest of the movie is as outrageous as any other Waters flick, so no need to go into much plot-wise. The songs are just fun, and even though Johnny Depp is lip-syncing it really doesn’t matter. The movie just emphasizes how ridiculous teen fan-culture is (perfect for Depp, being that he was through with 21 Jump Street at the time) – does it do more than that? Not really. You just need to sit back and enjoy the ride.