Monday, February 8, 2010

Hopelessly Devoted to "Grease"

Today at spin class, we cycled away to the songs from the soundtrack to the movie Grease. I already knew that these songs would make great exercise songs. When my sister and nephew visited in September, we spent much of the week-end dancing around the living room to that soundtrack.

So now I have a number of pleasant memories associated with that movie, but this morning, I'm awash in memories of first seeing the movie. It was the summer of 1978, and we went several times. My mom even let me and a group of friends go see the movie without an adult along--a first for me. We spent the movie buying more from the concession stand than we should have. Yes, some pre-teens would have done something more daring, but my big rebellion was buying not one soda but two!

My friends and I fell in love with this movie. We mourned the fact that we had been born too late to wear poodle skirts. In retrospect, our moms were awfully patient. I'm sure that their high school experiences were quite different.

As an older woman, I find the movie's statements about gender and class to be fascinating and often overlooked. It's not really such a feel-good movie at all! Why on earth would pre-teen girls think that the 1950's were a better place to be? The movie isn't shy about presenting the limited options for women. Go listen to "Beauty School Drop-out" again. You can trade in your teasing comb for a shot at the steno pool--swell. And those kind of movies, along with Our Bodies, Ourselves, taught me to be profoundly grateful for the birth control pill, which wouldn't have been available to the girls of Grease. There's that subplot about whether or not Rizzo is pregnant, and even in my more innocent pre-teen days, I could tell that pregnancy would REALLY limit her already limited options.

Somewhere, Alternate Life Kristin wonders whether or not to say too much about what her teenage years were really like as her pre-teen daughters fall in love with the movies of John Hughes. They debate about which characters they would have been in The Breakfast Club or St. Elmo's Fire. Alternate Life Kristin wonders if she would be seen as a bad mother if she showed her pre-teen daughters Heathers or Pump Up the Volume. Alternate Life Kristin decides not to talk about the movies that really influenced her: Threads, The Day After, Testament. She wants to shield her daughters from those nuclear nightmares for just a bit longer.

1 comment:

Kelli Russell Agodon - Book of Kells said...


I said the same thing after watching Grease-- how I wished I lived in the 50's. However, I knew that Sandra Dee had lost something of herself when she dressed in leather & started smoking to please her boyfriend at the end. That message came through, though I was always a fan of Frenchie...though definitely not her "dropping out" stance. ;-)

I love Pump Up the Volume, even own a copy of that movie.

And a confession-- I watched Breakfast Club while spending the last Saturday of the school year in detention (from 8 am-noon) ever week for tardies in class. The teachers decided for the last detention, we could watch movies. We also watched the movie Teachers. Odd, I know.