Have you ever considered the fact that Grease may very well be a bad influence on children? Don’t get me wrong. Grease is one of my guilty pleasures in life (as a rule, I generally hate musicals). But I’ll bet you’ve never thought of it this way:
Recommend this product?
(Oh! If you’ve never seen this movie then don’t read this. It gives up practically every detail and is more of an analysis about whether children should watch it. Okay? Are they gone? The ones who’ve never seen this? Let’s proceed!)
Sandy moves to the US from Australia. Frenchie, the “Beauty School Drop Out,” asks Riz if she could become a Pink Lady. Riz, dismisses her as “too pure to be pink.” Right here Riz suffers from enthnocentricism; Sandy’s accent and Australian clothing and culture come off as “wrong” to Riz.
It gets worse. Sandy reminisces about Danny, the friendly boy she spent a nice, wholesome day on the beach with. Sure they kissed. Maybe they even shared a kiss named for those of a European country. She sings of drinking lemonade, frolicking in the ocean, holding hands: cutesy, romantic stuff. He gyrates and sings about his take on things: “summer lovin’ havin’ me a blast…I met a girl crazy for me…” Oh, the arrogance! It goes downhill from here, folks. She adds, “met a boy, cute as can be.” So, he has her pegged. She is crazy for him, and he will later take advantage of that. The boys continually beseech this young lad to tell them more, tell them more, “did ya get very far?” I don’t recall his ever alluding to “soiling her,” yet this is where they lay the groundwork of how important his friends are to him and how they perceive him.
So, Riz—being the inherently evil person she is—fixes things so that Sandy has a reunion with Danny. They are merry, silly, gay, brimming with excitement! Then Danny sees his friends, the ones who asked him to tell them more, tell them more. He starts acting cool, aloof. LIKE SHE NEVER MATTERED! Her face contorts into a saddened grimace, reflecting her innermost pain. With tears pooling in her eyes, she runs away and cries. Here she is invited to a sleep over at Frenchie’s.
Sandy, in her “purity white” nightgown (I am positive this would be the name of the “white” had it been in a catalogue), and matching satin hair thingy coughs on her first cigarette (the other girls laughing). She gags on the wine, after being snickered at for having “had champagne at her cousin’s wedding once.” Frenchie tries to pierce her ears, but Sandy—in her innocence and purity—vomits at the sight of blood. Whilst recovering in the bathroom, the other girls sing a song, mocking poor Sandy. In sum, they say, “Elvis! Elvis! Let me be! Keep that pelvis FAR from me!” and that she gets “ill from one cigar-eh-eh-eh-ette!” This scene makes Sandy—every parent’s dream! —into this outcast. It glamorizes smoking, drinking, self-mutilation (come ON! A bathroom ear piercing?), and being intimate with those of the opposite sex.
After Sandy catches them having fun at her expense, she ventures downstairs to sing, “Hopelessly Devoted To You,” a loving tribute to her mean and awful Danny. Her lyrics are so melodramatic in light of his treatment (MIStreatment) of her: “…my heart is sayin’ don’t let goooooo! Hold on til the end, that’s what I inteeend to do. I’m hopelessly devoted to you.” In short, this fine young lady has HOPELESSLY low self-esteem (as we will see later).
Danny tries to make it up to her, as most abusive boyfriends will. She has a date with a fine, young man; someone better suited for her. He is an athlete who has more in common with her. They are at the local diner where all the kids hang out, and Danny tries to talk to her at the jukebox. He tries to sweet talk her. I am proud of her icy countenance. I gleefully bounced in my seat for her having stuck up to him. I mean, it’s much too early on in their relationship for her to put up with being snubbed by this oily creature in black. She even pushes the envelope by waving to her boyfriend in a cutesy fashion, a means of marking herself as HIS, and NOT Danny’s.
So, what does Danny do? Give up and try to find some greasy chick to make out with in his car? Nope. He tries to join a bunch of athletic teams/clubs. He fails miserably, and actually doesn’t seem to understand that smoking in the gym is not a good idea. He punches someone when he becomes enraged on the basketball court because “baby can’t get his ball back.” I wonder what kind of treatment Sandy could expect if she playfully ran off with his car keys, hoping he would chase her and tickle her. I dread the thought of it. Finally he seems to excel at track. While she is swooning over another boy-man on the bleachers, Danny is trucking past them, jumping hurdles. Sandy becomes interested (how SHALLOW!), and comes running to his rescue when he falls on the track. She abandons her boyfriend for this man with shiny hair.
Now she’s going to the dance with him. Again, she’s dressed in “purity white.” They have fun: giggling, dancing, and beaming at each other. She’s getting comfy again. Then Danny’s stupid friend comes over and grabs Sandy during the dance off. Did Danny prearrange this? Now he starts dancing with that skanky wench, Cha-Cha. Yet again, Sandy makes that wounded puppy face at Danny and storms out. Danny and Cha-Cha win the dance contest and then slow dance to “Blue Moon” on national TV. Maybe Sandy watched in the privacy of her living room, bawling, and eating a quart of ice cream in headache-inducing haste.
Then she’s in the car with Danny at the drive-in! She’s pouting, with her arms folded. What a push over! Then Danny sneezes, and grazes her breast. Concerned (for HIM), she asks if he’s getting a cold. Unconvincingly he answers, “No it’s just a bit of drive-in dust.” She is oblivious. So in the ensuing scenes, Danny (in a nutshell) punches her breast, giggles about it, and gives her his ring. She is ecstatic, and says something to the effect that she’s happy because it means he respects her now. Are you as concerned about her psychological frame of mind as I am?! It gets worse. He summarily kisses her frenziedly, throws her down and starts sucking her face. Hysterical, she bolts upright, throws his ring in his face, and slams his junior with the car door and leaves. FINALLY! Some self-respect! Olivia just wasn’t ready to “get physical, physical…”
Danny is dismayed. In his usual controlling fashion, he yells at her that she can’t “walk out of a drive-in.” He’s got the car, after all, and hence holds all the cards. He gets out of his car to sing a sappy song called “Sandy.” It has some depth like “Some day when high school is done, some how, some way, our two worlds will be one. And maybe in Heaven, forever we will be. So please, say you’ll stay. Oh, Sandy.” But there is the other issue of his reputation prevalent in the song: “What will they say, Monday at school?”
Then Danny’s mentor and shadow, Kenicky (spelling?) is to race some crater-faced scumbag for “pink slips,” their cars’ ownership papers. Sandy trots down there and watches the whole thing (Danny has to race due to Kenicky’s concussion from being bonked on the head by a car door. I have long maintained that Kenicky was an opportunist who wanted out of the race and prearranged this, as his performance was good throughout the movie except for his unconvincing scene where after being bopped on the head lightly by a car door, he sees “two of you, man,” but that’s another opinion). She watches from afar, quietly cheering him on. She is gleeful when he wins, but does not approach him. Why? Feelings of inadequacy. Lack of entitlement! THAT’S why!
Frenchie sees Sandy sitting by her lonesome up on the hill and rushes over. Sandy cryptically asks her if she could come over, if she could “help her.” Frenchie says sure. She continues singing “Sandra Dee,” a self-deprecating song about herself. “…There has to be, something more than what they see: wholesome and pure, oh so scared and unsure…” At the end, when the song reaches its catharsis, she sings, “Sandy, you must start anew. Don’t you know what you must do? (Something) no place to hide, take a deep breath inside! Good bye to Sandra Deeee!” The “goodbye to Sandra Dee” may have been meant as foreshadowing, a hint of the bizarre ending to come.
On the last day of school there is a carnival. Danny shows up with his hair glistening with oil, that same curl in the middle of his forehead (maybe an allusion to that poem? “…When he was good, he was very, very good! And when he was bad he was horrid”). He wears those same, black clothes (has he changed them throughout the movie?) But! He is also wearing a white letterman sweater! He is teased a little, but says something strong that almost makes me think he’s good enough for Sandy. He says, “While you guys were out playing follow the leader, I earned a letter running track.” So, maybe I was wrong about him?
Then everything stops. There is whistling, and suspenseful piano music. The camera pans across the crowd, all of who seem astounded and virtually worshipful. Then we see Sandy. She has a perm. She is wearing big, hoop earrings (did she take Dramamine at Frenchie’s?). Her bony pelvis juts into her black, satin jeans. Through her Cleopatra eyeliner, she glares seductively at her Danny while she strips off her black leather jacket, revealing a skimpy, black halter top. Her crimson lips are puckered slightly around her cigarette (when did she take up smoking?!), and then she tosses it to the ground (pollution!) and snuffs it out. Danny, beaming uncontrollably strips off his letterman sweater (symbolically? Or is he just too hot from her molten lava!?) She enters the fun house, singing the beginning of “You’re the One that I Want,” while Danny is falling all over himself. He drags himself weakly up the steps, smiling up at her. Is it her personality that is luring him into that fun house? Is it her wit that compels him to sing, “all the power you’re supplyin’…it’s electrifyin’!”? Her intelligence? No. It is merely her leather!
Her attire seems so new, and so different that I can only liken it to the shedding of a snake’s skin. Her new skin seems equally tight, equally a part of her!
Granted, she sings to him, “You better shape up...” but, unfortunately, she continues, “’Cause I need a man.” She needs a man? What woman NEEDS a man? Does she need to be validated by the opposite sex? Is she so unfulfilled when she doesn’t have a boyfriend? Does she have daddy issues? Then she whines, “And my heart is set on you. You can keep me satisfied.” Is she sure of that? He hasn’t up until this point! It’s an emotional roller coaster, and mostly is roars downward!
Then our little group gets all bummed out that they’re going to graduate and never see each other again. Yah! Kenicky is going to Harvard Law School, and Frenchie is off to Hollywood to do makeup for the stars. Right. They’re not going anywhere! And still they persist! Still they sing! “We go together like rambalama-lama-a-diggity-boom-sha-boom!” At the end, they are handed their yearbooks by Sandy’s ex-boyfriend, the athlete, right there in the shadow of the Ferris Wheel. I interpreted the Ferris Wheel to be symbolic, its continuous spinning, like the constant flow of new high school students, and the constant outflow of seniors. A never-ending cycle. You get in, and before you know it, it’s time to get off.
Then Danny and Sandy come driving through in his new car (where did it come from?) They fly away into the air.
I predict that they live in a beat up apartment in a bad neighborhood, and have domestic disputes that require police intervention. He coerced her long ago into drinking, which inevitably lead to her alcoholism. She becomes horribly saddened at age 40 when she has a nagging cough from smoking, and when she realizes that her Keystone Light habit is more of a necessity to her. She kicks herself daily, wishing she had stuck with the football player (who is now a part time little league coach, full time teacher who makes an honest living, has children, a wife, and a white picket fence). Wincing, she gazes down at her tattooed arms, wishing they remained bare and flesh colored. She shakes her head, looking at her kids with their greasy hair and motor cycles, wishing she could get them to dress in “purity white.” She wishes she could afford to give them more than Chef Boyardee for dinner, and she resents her hard earned money going toward Danny’s marijuana and hard liquor. She forgives Danny each and every time he cheats on her (with a very bunk, very used up looking Cha-Cha, and with Rizzo when she’s between Kenicky and that crater faced moe), yet feels painful yearning.
Sorry, folks. This is no happy ending. There is no divorce, which might be a happy ending for Sandy because she is “Hopelessly Devoted To Him.”
Despite my odd slant on this movie, I do thoroughly enjoy Grease. I have seen it countless times, and will watch it countless times more. But it isn't for children, and I think people lose sight of that because it's a musical.
PS Who is [hidden], who rated this Not Helpful? I would love to know why! ;) Oh, and to "[hidden]", you didn't hurt my feelings any. I'm sorry that the NH or SH I gave you hurt your feelings so badly you had to retaliate. I suspect I know who you are.
Read all comments (10)