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"I watched Grease again as an adult. And it was a revelation. Not a good one."

As a kid, I LOVED the movie Grease. The hair. The poodle skirts. Drinking milkshakes in diners, having girly sleepovers with your friends, singing songs with made up words like ramma-lamma-lamma-ka-dingity-dinky-dong.

My friends and I would shoo-bup-bup along the school bleachers. My sisters and I spent an age choreographing the perfect Grease Lightning arm routine. We’d buy lolly fags and say “tell me about it, STUD.”

Sandy
Image via Paramount Pictures

But when I watched it back, 25 years later, I was like: “What the hell? I don’t remember these fat jibes and slut shaming and bad messages. WHAT IS THIS MOVIE?”

It’s a movie whose central messages are: Smoke. Change everything about yourself so boys will like you. Be a bit of a slut, but don’t be too much of a slut. Cool. Now let’s dance it out. (Ok fine that bit, I quite like).

When the stage show Grease Live was aired earlier this year, it was with a politically-correct makeover. Eagle-eyed viewers watching the live television adaptation noticed some lyrics had been changed.  I explain which words were taken out in this episode of Mamamia Out Loud:  (post continues after audio).

So Grease is the word, except when those words are horribly inappropriate in a modern context.

Mia Freedman watched it with her kids and she said it’s really funny watching a 70s movie through a modern lens, and then trying to explain some of the more inappropriate themes and moments to your kids.  Like, why Sandy is smoking in the end. Why Danny can blow smoke in his teachers’ face? What the lyrics mean when they jauntily sing “Did she put up a fight?”.

Awks.

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So, watching it these days is pretty different. And here’s what I realised:

Sandy is an idiot.

Sandy was always my hero. She dresses all in white, she’s virgin and pure, she is innocent and lovely. Then, IN ORDER TO WIN A MAN, good girl Sandy grabs some fags, whacks on a pair of heels, ruins her hair with a perm that just wont quit, and sluts it up in mildy uncomfortable dominatrix display at a fairground. WTF are you doing Sandy? Changing yourself entirely for a man who met you on a beach in Summer, and loved you just the way you were then? Idiot.

Rizzo is my feminist hero.

Rizzo doesn’t change for ANYONE. She knows what she wants and she doesn’t relent. What a boss. She talks about how she’s not content to stay home and wait for the right guy. RIGHT ON, Rizzo. Also, even though she is pretty cynical towards Sandy at the start, she still lets Miss Goody-Two-Shoes into the Pink Ladies and helps her out when she needs it. She’s a woman for the sisterhood, our Rizzo. But when she has a pregnancy scare with Kenickie, and words get around, was it my imagination, or was she slut shamed? Tsk tsk. Tell them all to shove it Rizzo. You’re kick arse.

Danny Zuko is a dirtbag.

Sorry, Danny Dirtbag Zuko, But let’s look at the facts here:

You met Sandy on a beach and fell in love with her. (I can’t imagine you wearing leather on a beach but ok, cool story bro).

You didn’t maintain any contact with her, then when school went back you told all your friends you went “all the way” with a girl from Australia. *Hip Thrust*

Your friends ask: “Did she put up a fight?” You don’t deny this. Date rape is not a cute thing to make into a song, you grease monkey.

You don’t dare to be seen doing anything as nerdy as being in love. So you play the cool guy and try and feel Sandy up at the movies. (These days, we generally try for something called consent, Zuko). Then at the dance contest, you dump Sandy for a hot dance with your ex? Slick.

Sure, you don a letterman jacket in an attempt to please Sandy, that lasts about 10 seconds before you’re back in leather and putting your face right in Sandy’s leather-clad virginal pelvic area.

Ew.

Despite all that, I still love the shit out of this movie. I mean, I could look at John Travolta in leather all day, and ONJ has the flattest pelvic floor known to human kind. Plus where else can you forget all your teenage pain by singing a song of gibberish and zooming away in a flying car?

The full episode of Mamamia OutLoud is here:

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