Should Grease actually be banned? Some audiences slammed the film upon revisiting it over the festive period, so let’s consider the debate.
Over the Christmas period, families may have spent a lot of time perched in front of the television, devouring good food and perhaps watching even better shows.
There was some terrific new programming on during the tail-end of December. However, viewers were also invited to check out some iconic films too. For example, the BBC screened both Singin’ in the Rain and Some Like it Hot back-to-back on Christmas Day.
On Boxing Day, BBC1 also screened Randal Kleiser’s 1978 musical Grease, starring John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John in the iconic roles of Danny Zuko and Sandy Olsson.
It’s generally considered a classic and is so entrenched in pop culture that tuning in on the 26th simply felt like a no-brainer for many. Easy, breezy viewing, right?
Well, not quite.
As noted by The Sun, a number of audiences criticised the film on Twitter for misogynism, sexism and more.
Some even called for it to be banned, which caught the attention of Piers Morgan, who argued that it absolutely shouldn’t…
Should Grease actually be banned?
To consider why the film should be banned, the issues some have with the film first must be identified.
The majority of those who have argued fault with it on Twitter highlight a scene at the drive-in, in which Danny acts inappropriately towards Sandy: “The drive-in/botched makeout session between Danny and Sandy hasn’t aged well. The film kinda glides right into song (‘Sandy’) before viewers register the date rapey vibe of the scene they just saw.”
Another branded it “misogynistic, sexist and a bit rapey,” while others slammed the interactions between a middle-aged TV personality and a student at the dance. Similarly, it’s addressed that dance partners must be boy/girl, with one Twitter user saying: “All couples must be boy/girl? Well Grease, shove your homophobia.”
Additionally, some took issue with the cast’s diversity, or lack of, rather: “Hey, there’s one non-white couple at the dance! One! #Grease”
So, should Grease be banned because of these things?
Opinion: Grease should not be banned
Undoubtedly, Grease contains problematic material, as do a great deal of films made before and up to this point.
A number of sequences in the film draw a direct parallel with the films belonging to the frat-boy sub-genre, in which men – unconvincingly made up as teenagers – strive to score and tell the tale.
We’re sure some audiences cringed at the T-Birds back in the day, and it’s certainly the case that more audiences are doing so now. After all, many things which were tolerated in the seventies definitely aren’t widely tolerated now. On the other hand, it’s also important to acknowledge that the story takes place in the fifties.
It’s difficult to expect a film made in the seventies and set in the fifties to adhere to modern standards of what is and isn’t acceptable to portray on screen.
Progressive attitudes towards cinema are evolving by the week and those with any moral compass understand that some of Danny and the gang’s actions in Grease simply wouldn’t and shouldn’t fly today.
It has become increasingly common to add a disclaimer at the start of some films – The Goonies being an example – in which it’s explained that the film may contain outdated attitudes, stereotypes and so forth.
While adding a disclaimer at the start of Grease does no harm, many may find it patronising. Grease is hardly a slice-of-life picture which blurs the lines between fiction and reality; most audiences will know not to imitate everything they see on TV. Those who don’t, on the other hand? Well, there are far more pressing concerns than Grease being screened on BBC1.
If you’re concerned that your children won’t understand that some of the actions in Grease aren’t acceptable, then all it takes is a quick explanation.
To wrap up, Grease doesn’t conform to today’s sense of right and wrong. How can it?
When we approach entertainment, we must simply use our heads.
Some often say that they like to turn off their brains when they watch a film. If anything, that’s the problem. As long as we can approach old content with a new perspective, we are in no danger of letting outdated films influence our present and future.
Cinema becoming a reflection of a flawless society is surely the death of cinema?
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