I Watched Grease for the First Time

How dare I?

I run a film blog despite this huge Grease-shaped hole in my otherwise unquestionable film knowledge. The reasons are simple and as shallow as you would expect from a dude that spends most of his time on this site talking about superhero movies: musicals, I was told for much of my cinematic education, are for girls.

This statement is in itself fucking ridiculous, and I know it. Musicals are for everyone, hell, Hamilton is the most talked about slice of entertainment in the world at the moment – again! Then there’s my Granda, the manliest man I’ve ever known, and one of his favorite movies was Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. And then there’s the fact that girls are on point when you look at the quality of media which is supposedly just for them: The Hunger Games, The 1975, even Buffy the Vampire Slayer, all of which have been branded too girly by my fellow men only to become insanely popular in their own mediums and brilliant in their own right. Girls might be on to something, you know.

So, yes, in my thirtieth year I finally got round to watching Grease, and I loved it. One of the reasons why musicals bothered me so much was due to my discomfort of big emotions as a child – I preferred action, where emotions such as anger, fear, and, yes, even arousal, (they are male fantasies after all) are the most we’re going to get, whereas musicals were mostly about love and romance. Blurgh. Grease, which is ostensibly a romance before it’s anything else, was the symbol of all the things I hated about movies. Damn, was I an uptight child.

It turns out I was a lot more uptight than the movie itself: no one told me how horny this thing is. Grease is a strange beast, it’s a story about teenagers in the fifties which was made in the more open-minded late seventies, and was allowed to show the fact that teenagers, both male and female, are obsessed with sex in all its guises. At the centre is Danny and Sandy: an on-and-off-again couple whose most romantic moments come before the movie has even started. Danny, played by John Travolta at his most charismatic, spends the movie caught between his tough guy persona, and the softer side that Sandy brings out. Sandy, played by Olivia Newton John,  on the other hand, is the picture of repression, a Disney princess who decides to dump Danny if he so much as shares the same oxygen as another woman. Danny and Sandy give Grease what I call the Gavin and Stacy problem: they are the boring couple that is overshadowed by the strength of the rest of the characters.

The T-Birds, Danny Zuko’s leather-clad gang of bubbling misogyny and homoeroticism, only have three things on their minds: sex, cars, and sex in cars. The Pink ladies, led by the rightly iconic Rizzo (though Frenchie is my secret favorite) equate sex with romance and power.

Grease is the perfect Hollywood fantasy of being a teenager. Instead of the awkwardness and social isolation (just me?), you’re part of a gang that fights and fucks like the heroes on the big screen, and you never have to go to class. Also, being able to sing and dance is my new obsession. You have all been warned.

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By Kevin Boyle

Image Credit: The Guardian

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