costumes, feminism, grease, movies, musicals, rants

Costume p0rn and Typewriters II

Okay, so this one just barely counts for this list, from the one brief glance we see of Blanche tangled up in the ribbon of her Royal.

I love this movie. But there are two things that I HATE about it. First, I can’t stand the depicted bullying of Eugene. Bullying is never okay, and in the film it’s played off as “boys will be boys.” Yes, I know the story takes place in the fifties and that there were different attitudes and that similar things happen today–often much worse–but it still bothers me.

Second–and this actually bothers me a lot more, since it has a bigger part in the film–is the song Beauty School Drop Out.

Good things: The video itself is beautifully shot, there’s a dose of humor in it, and it is used to encourage Frenchy and other young people to finish high school.

What irks me: Frenchy’s so-called “guardian angel” basically spends four minutes telling her why she is too stupid to ever reach her goals. His exact words are “Why keep your feeble hopes alive?/What are you proving?/You’ve got the dream but not the drive/If you go for your diploma, you could join a steno pool,” and then later “You’re not cut out to hold a job/Better forget it.”

Really? That is the message you want to send to young girls? The musical was started in 1971, the film was released in 1978, so there’s at least a few years of the sexual revolution behind them when the original story was written, and they’re still arguing that the best a woman could hope for was to be a secretary? Even while the principal of the school is female?

I am sure others have heard this argument before, but it’s just something that really gets to me on a core level, especially since I went to a technical high school–we had career training before we’d even graduated. And yet, when I talk to others who love this film, they always cite this song as their favorite.

Okay. I said I loved Grease, but by this point you’re probably wondering why. Well, as I said, it starts with the music (I just fast forward though that one). When I first saw the movie as a kid, my favorite song was “Greased Lightning.” Now that I’m a little older though, and have a better understanding of some of the themes presented in the movie, I find the term “pussy wagon” offensive. Now, my favorite songs are “Summer Nights” since it shows the two perspective and how Danny keeps trying to boost his image. It’s very tongue in cheek, which I love. Another favorite is “You’re the one that I Want,” because it shows a balanced relationship–both Sandy and Danny are willing to make changes for the other. These aren’t changes that were demanded by the other. They were done with free will. While I do think that Sandy was forced to bend a little more, I think this is tempered by the fact that she came to the realization on her own, since how things were before just weren’t working for her. She knew that in order to have the kind of life she wanted, she had to work to make some changes, take some risks, and she took them (unlike Frenchy, who gave up).

Despite this, my favorite character has always been Rizzo. She stands out and isn’t afraid to do so. She speaks her mind, calls it like she sees it, and never backs down. I love her solos “Sandra Dee” is hilarious and “The Worst Thing I Could Do” is just heartbreaking–and once again points out that Bullying is Bad. Throughout everything, she never once apologizes for being who she is.

And then, of course, there are the costumes.

Once again, I love the way Rizzo is dressed–she’s the only female character to regularly eschew skirts and dresses, even at school, and I love her favored highwaters and the pencil skirt she wears on the first day of classes (left).

In general, I love fashion from the 1950s. The cuts are so flattering, and the full skirts are so much fun to wear.

And don’t even get me start on the dance off scene; oh my gosh, I love the dresses. In particular, Marty and Rizzo’s picks. They are form-fitted without being revealing, and the colors are bright, eye catching, and just right for both the actresses and the characters.

Well, I think I’ve waxed poetic enough about this one–especially since it’s probably one film that almost everyone (at least in the US) has seen (and now someone is going to comment and prove me wrong. 🙂 Please do).