How much did you really love it anyway?
the answer, if you are anyone i did high school theatre with, is probably a-whole-lot
Well-a well-a well-a HUH
...is not just what the guys & gals from Grease say in our hit favorite ‘Summer Nights’. It’s also how you feel after rewatching this classic while thinking about perpeturapetion.
This movie may have come out in the 70s, but that doesn’t stop every elementary, middle, & high school ever from doing a bad production of it (we’ve all been there).
It’s still shown at sleepovers, and no doubt giggling girls continue to put on their own versions of ‘Sandra Dee’ in their underwear.
And only 2 years ago, Grease Live (with Vanessa Hudgens in case you forgot) aired on National American TV.
The movie, the musical, a rando singing it at karaoke. No matter how it comes to you, Grease is the word. And we love it.
But that sh** has some major problems. So let’s take a moment to reflect.
This movie is rich with some negative gender narrativizing - I mean Sandy literally changes her entire identity to be the one that Danny wants. (or really the one that Danny can feel secure wanting)
'Greased Lighting' is a mess about getting chicks to 'cream' with a cool car. Ew.
'Sandra Dee' and all of the surrounding discussion was so confusing. Are we supposed to explore sex, are we not? WHICH ONE PEOPLE.
But here, we’re just going to focus on the most performed karaoke duet ever ‘Summer Nights’.
I don’t care who you are, you’ve either taken stage with this fan favorite or been present while someone else did so. Either way, it’s stamped in our collective cultural mind.
Tell me more, tell me more.
This song is fascinating to me because it’s basically reflecting how males & females 'should' recount a love affair to their friends. (and is thus reinforcing these gender stereotypes as the norm … hi perpetu-rape-tion)
We see the guys on the bleachers, dying to know how far Danny could get with his hot, new lady.
We see the girls at lunch, swooning over the idea of a sweet summer love.
And BOTH sides are asking the most BASIC heteronormative bullsh** questions.
At a certain point, you have to excuse blatant gender stereotyping from media made in the past with an UGH and a never again. And that’s the same with this.
We roll our eyes at they lyrics ‘How much dough did he spend?’ and shake our heads at Danny’s incessant need to validate his masculinity.
(Forreal though he literally needs us to know so badly how much Sandy is obsessed with him. She tells us this adorable story about meeting ‘a boy cute as can be’ and he starts right off about meeting a girl crazy for HIM ugh)
But this was a guidebook for how young boys & girls should talk to their friends about sex. And we can’t exactly just roll our eyes at certain lyrics anymore.
‘Was it love at first sight
Tell me more, tell me more
Did she put up a fight?’
Because it’s so expected for a female to say no. And, even more so, expected that the male should convince her to anyway.
If that’s not normalizing rape culture, then nothing is. (or EVERYTHING is??)
And don’t get me wrong, I LOVE this song. I loved it the first time I saw the movie. I loved it every time I sang it at karaoke. (a fair few) I loved it when I was in a bad production of Grease in middle school. I loved it when Leslie Knope and Jeremy Jamm sang it on Parks and Recreation.
But that lyric so casually encapsulates what rape culture is. And the fact that it’s in our favorite song from one of our favorite musicals encapsulates how rape culture is perpetuated in the media.
I cannot stress how these topics aren’t meant to blame people, but to talk about why we think we’re supposed to behave the way that we do.
Why did Aziz push that girl so hard when she had already said no?
Well-a well-a well-a HUH??
My film Perpeturaped. will be screened at the Artemis Women In Action Film festival on April 28th. It will also be available to be screened online through the festival. All information can be found here.
In honor, this month is perpeturapetion reflection month. Read more on the blog or follow on Instagram @hermeout