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Grease, the Musical - Elf M. Sternberg
Grease, the Musical
Nostalgia is an ugly vice.

I went with the family to watch Grease, you know, the musical that was once a movie with John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John. The 5th Avenue Theatre showing used the original text and music, which was a lot more raunchy than the script used in the movies, or those commonly seen in community or junior presentations.

I have a confession to make: I hated the original movie. When it came out I was twelve, and its vision of school was as alien and nasty as any I could possibly imagine, the viciousness of the girls and the clueless masculinity of the boys pretty much affirmed my notion that high school was basically the idiocy of middle school cranked to 11.

I only enjoyed the musical by appreciating the meta of it: the quality of the performances, the costume, and the stagework. It was well done.

I mean, come on, the play opens with Danny expressing genuine affection for Sandy and then is forced back into being a leather-bearing greaser by peer pressure. Sandy spends the entire play pining over Danny before she finally, in the very last scene, goes over completely to his point of view and lifestyle.

Over and over, the cluelessness of these kids and their inability to form an articulate, coherent future for themselves ought to be a source of fucking terror for anyone who's watched it. Rizzo, Frenchie and Marty's inarticulate embrace of head-first, into the future without a map red-state values only shows that the past would be a terrible time to which to return.

The worst part is where Rizzo sings to Sandra about how she's not a tease, and she's batting her eyes and dancing and making Danny think he "has a chance" and never putting out. Rizzo has swallowed Rape Culture 101 and then makes Sandra feel guilty for not doing the same.

By the end of the play I felt bad for Sandy. She surrendered everything and Danny... nothing. There's no meeting-in-the-middle, there's no compromising, there's no honest exchange here; Danny gets what he wants and Sandy, well, who knows if Sandy's really getting what she wants? The play's last song, "You're the one that I want" might mean "right now" or "forever," but the writers never said which. There are some things man was not meant to know.
2 comments or Leave a comment
pixel39 From: pixel39 Date: August 3rd, 2015 03:37 pm (UTC) (Link)
This is exactly why I dislike the play. And the movie.
jordan179 From: jordan179 Date: August 4th, 2015 12:36 pm (UTC) (Link)
It was very much a 1970's concept of late 1950's teen culture, and managed to combine the worst aspects of both eras. In the movie version, do you remember the nerdy background character everyone was treating like dirt? "Only one likely to succeed," was my thought on him.

Edited at 2015-08-04 12:36 pm (UTC)
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