Guilty Favorite Muscial Scene Theater: Grease (1978)
Ah, the Summer O’ 1978. Running school free through suburban fields and streams, the hot sultry smell of tar and wildflowers, washing down chilled Reeses Peanut Butter Cups with a cup of crushed ice Coke, the cultural effects of STAR WARS still permeating my consciousness, life was good, like a bottle of Dandelion Wine…and then came GREASE.
Maybe you had to be there, and there were times I wish I wasn’t. Like the previous year’s SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER and its disco assault, it seemed like my sister and all her friends were under John Travolta’s spell. Suddenly the radios and turntables were filled with the double-record sounds of Olivia Newton singing “Hopelessly Devoted To You” and the duet of “You’re The One That I Want.” I realized that GREASE was STAR WARS for chicks and I would have to endure the songs and sights of this musical monstrosity All Summer Long.
I never cared for the movie, thought it ridiculous Stockard Channing (who I adore) was being passed off as a high school gal, and the best parody of the film was in the pages of my satirical bible, Mad Magazine. I thought brilliant the panels with goody-goody Olivia Newton John saying, “I love him, and I’m going to change for him! That’s the moral in this movie! In order to get the guy you love…” then cut to the next panel of her in black tomcat gear: “You have to be a SLUT! What a wonderful message for the youth of America!” A lesson I was more grateful for later in High School…
Of course, at a certain point, I found myself sneaking my sister’s LP and listening to the songs. Devoid of their totemic images, I enjoyed the tuneful melodies and kitsch lyrics, creating my own mindscape version of GREASE. So to dip back into that cultural hothouse from ’78, here’s my favorite tune and scene from…you know the word.