Monday, October 10, 2005

Grease... Is the Word?

I forgot to mention in my weekend update post that I happened to watch most of "Grease" during the weekend, for probably the tenth or eleventh time, at least. It's a fun musical, and worth watching for the cameos of fifties-era stars, as well as identifying cast members who went on to bigger and better things.

But I do worry about impressionable youngsters who watch it. And let me explain why.

Just in case you're one of the dozen or so people who've never watched Grease, let me give you the basic plot: The summer before senior year, Danny, a greaser, and Sandy, a clean-cut Australian girl, met at the beach, and fell in love. At the end of the summer, they parted ways, presumably forever, as Sandy was returning to Australia. However, as the new school year begins at Rydell High, Danny rejoins his greaser buddies in the T-Birds, and Sandy, through her new friend Frenchy, kind of gets involved with the Pink Ladies, who are the "bad girls" of Rydell. Sandy and Danny tell their classmates about their summer love, although one can hardly tell they're talking about the same experience.

The Pink Ladies soon discover that Sandy's love was Danny, and arrange to have them reunite. At first, Danny is enthusiastic about finding Sandy again, but realizes that he's blowing his image with the T-Birds. However, they do start dating again... and conflict ensues as Danny tries to maintain his tough-guy image, while Sandy is such a sweet girl that she's constantly hurt by his acting the tough. Also, most of the Pink Ladies make fun of her all the time.

As the movie progresses, Danny makes an effort to change, to be more like the guy Sandy knew during the summer... he even goes out for sports, and eventually earns a letter in track. He also helps his best friend fix up a beater car into the fastest thing on wheels, while one of the Pink Ladies drops out of high school to go to beauty school (failing miserably at it, and going back to high school after a dream-inspired image of Frankie Avalon tells her she's not cut out to work, and should go back to high school), while another Pink Lady thinks she's pregnant. More conflict ensues when National Bandstand holds a dance contest at Rydell, and halfway through it, Sandy's pushed away from Danny so this girl from a different school (who used to date Danny) can win the contest with him. Finally, there's the race between Danny (driving his buddy's car after he's knocked out by a car door) and a rival gang member, which Danny wins. Somehow, because of this race, Sandy decides that she can't be herself, she has to change in order for Danny to really love her (she even sings that there must be something wrong with her). When next we see Sandy, it's the graduation carnival, and she's all decked out in tight-fitting clothes, smoking away, and basically looking like a complete slut. Danny, of course, is thrilled at this (so thrilled that, at the beginning of their duet, "You're The One That I Want," he takes off his letterman's sweater, and leaves it on the ground)... so we see Danny was pretty much able to just do what he wanted, it was Sandy who had to change.

And there's where I have a problem with this movie (and probably the stage show, too, although I've never seen it). Danny spends the entire senior year trying to be something he really isn't (trapped in his role of the greaser tough, a fake identity he was able to discard during the summer with Sandy), and making only the smallest of efforts to go back to the more mature, good guy he really is (let's face it, lettering in track isn't that big a sacrifice... it doesn't get in the way of anything that we can see, and even his T-Bird buddies have no clue Danny was doing it). However, Sandy, whom Danny fell in love with exactly the way she was in the beginning, can't really love her in front of his buddies until she changes into Ultimate Slut Girl -- hell, she outdoes all the Pink Ladies!

So... what's the lesson the boys and girls get to leave the movie with? Guys, you don't have to do anything for the love of your life, except for some small token things. You can continue to be a butt-head, and cause anguish. Girls, in order to keep your man, you have to change yourself completely.

Wow, what a great lesson.

Now, I hope this doesn't ruin the movie for those of you who are big fans of it. It's still fun to watch, and the music is great... just don't look for it for life lessons, okay?

Jon

1 comment:

  1. Glen Davis8:39 PM

    I saw something wholly different. I thought the greaseball knucklehead was not a role but reality, and that Danny was being something he wasn't at the beach. Sandy thought she wanted the Danny of the Beach, but really wanted the knucklehead.

    The entire play, or movie is a paen to the James Dean Aesthetic, and I think my theory makes more sense in that context.

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