Friday, July 25, 2014

Grease: Hopelessly Devoted To Selling Out For Social Acceptance

I doubt I will be met with much argument when I state that teenagers are strange creatures. These half-child-half-adult beings are each a sea of new hormones, budding with new body parts and functions. It’s a wild environment til their bodies and priorities (relatively) balance themselves out. And on top of all that, there’s romance. Teenagers start trying out intimate relationships at what I deem the dumbest possible time. They are generally at the most immature, emotionally insecure, and financially unstable points in their lives. Yet they see, to clumsily pursue this activity above all others during these formative years with both guns blazing. The only sure thing they’ve got working for them is their innate sexual combustibility. On that note…

Who doesn’t love a bunch of singing, dancing teenagers in their late 20s and early 30s, facing the trials and tribulations of high school, summer love, make out cars, pregnancy scares, and whatever the “Hand Jive” is? Today, we’re going to talk about the original “High School Musical,” Grease. I’m gonna stick primarily with the film version, as I’m assuming that’s the one most folks are familiar with. If you care to challenge me on that, then you can go and write your own witty, well-informed blog!

Music, Lyrics, & Book: Jim Jacobs & Warren Casey
Broadway Debut: 1972 (1978 Film)
Tony Nominations/Wins: 7/0
Grease is a doo-woppin’, Bad-Boy-meets-Goody-Goody-Girl story of love, cliques, cars, high school dances, and friendship, featuring true role models for today’s insecure teenagers. The movie is a beloved classic (one of the few movie musicals [along with Chicago] that might actually be better than the stage version!) that chronicles teenage tomfoolery and irresponsibility, inspiring Halloween costumes and drag queens alike. I myself have been an avid fan of the movie since the tender age of 9 (it was edited for TV, so I didn’t see the too-hot-for TV version until way later). I loved seeing the Mexican standoff between the greasers, the cheerleaders, the jocks, the nerds, and the square adults played out before me. My 9 year-old self couldn’t wait to get to high school and hang out with the cool kids (silly me. I was below nerd status for those 4 years). However, as I got older and saw the film in my post-teen years, I became rather disturbed by the musical’s ending. Just as Danny is about to discard his T-Bird membership and (unsuccessfully) go jock to pursue Sandy, she appears – smoking (literally and figuratively) – in leather pants, enough teased hair and makeup to choke a horse, and a badassattitude change. She changes her whole game and morphs from a wholesome, Sandra Dee-esque All-American into the ultimate 1950s sex kitten in one afternoon.

I’ve become very disappointed in Sandy. Instead of consenting that her man (and his buddies) is too shallow to accept her for what she is, she decides to change everything about herself to impress him. I call shenanigans, Sandy! You were once a young lady of principles who stayed true to herself. Sure, you were so sugary-sweet and innocent, you were giving us diabetes. But if you’re gonna make a change, how ‘bout a gradual, mature change that’s for the better instead of adopting an entirely different persona (which you once opposed) just to make your man happy? And may I point out that this transition happened on the Very. Last. Day. of high school? You do realize that you’ll probably have one more “Summer Lovin’” summer between you before you go your separate ways, right? Be it college, career, prison, etc., I’ve got a sneaking suspicion it’s not gonna work out. I know it was more common for high school sweethearts to make it back then, but if you’ve gone from Sandra Dee to Sandra D. Minatrix (see what I did there?) in one day just so your man will like you again, I honestly doubt the endurance of your future together. Sorry ‘bout ya, but I think you need a Teen Angel’s advice more than Frenchy does at this point.