On Grease (or, You’re NOT the one that I want, ooh ooh ooh honey)

A few posts ago I wrote about a book I had read about feminism. And I mentioned that I’m very lucky, very privileged, when it comes to equality and discrimination and  things that I’m obviously aware are real, valid concerns and issues, but they just have never really hit home for me, so I’ve kind of done the lazy thing and glossed over them most of my adult life.  But I’ve been thinking about karaoke, and how the first time I ever went, years and years ago, people sang that god awful duet from Grease, “You’re The One That I Want”.  And recalling that memory (their performance was good, by the way), made me think about how even as a young girl I hated Grease. HATED. I’m not anti-musicals, please know that. I actually just saw a live performance of Hedwig and the Angry Inch that I would classify as a spiritual awakening in my life so, there is no anti-Broadway vibes from me, at all. But fucking Grease. I remember in high school when I was casually affiliated with the theater kids, their fucking love of fucking Grease. And my utter confusion.

Grease is terrible. Not just the music, though I struggle with that too. Who sat around and pitched this idea like… “Hey, you know what storyline would be awesome to present in a very cool, hip, super fucking catchy gets stuck in your head until you get a lobotomy kind of way? Boy meets girl, they have a fun summer fling, only to be awkwardly reunited – girl, in a dumb desperate attempt to please random boy she only had a fling with literally changes every single fucking thing about herself. Yeah, that’s 100% the story we should tell the kids.” WTF y’all. I mean… puke, seriously.

And maybe if it was just one of those old movies that had the values of the timeframe it was made, and I get it was set in the 50’s, yada yada yada, got it. But we keep bringing it back. Wasn’t there just a live on tv version Fox did with all the hip singers of this time? Because again, in a time where there is still a massive pay gap between men and women, and in a time where women don’t feel safe in workplaces and in a time where maternity leave is a luxury, not a necessity, please in THIS time, let’s promote a story about abandoning your core values, your image, and everything you are so you can fit in with a random hook up and his crew, yes, please Lord yes, let’s teach little girls this moral, and let’s raise up the next crew of Harvey Weinsteins to expect women to be so accommodating. Vomit. Lots and lots of vomit, y’all.

Let’s flip Grease around. Let’s say Danny changes himself. GASP! What then?  Let’s say Mr. Cool, leather jacket wearing, slicked back hair douche, suddenly, in an attempt to woo the girl, started I don’t know… reading, studying, getting awesome grades, wearing cardigan sweaters. People would say he’s pussy whipped (which just makes me think of this like.. person-sized dominatrix vagina). And people wouldn’t like that story.

I don’t know. I don’t have a conclusion to this stream of thought. I don’t have a clever wrap up here at all. I want us to stop promoting and loving Grease. I want us to see sexism runs so deep and is so ingrained in our culture that we lovingly promote it with hooks in pop songs. I want us to think about the media we consume, and if we do a gender swap on characters, what that might look like, and if it’s unacceptable what that maybe means. I’ve got chills…. they’re multiplyin….

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