Good Girl Gone Bad: Musical Comedy Gone Blockbuster

Good Girl Gone Bad: Musical Comedy Gone Blockbuster

After a brief summer romance, Sandy (Olivia Newton-John) and Danny (John Travolta) believe they will never see each other again. But, this all changes as Sandy moves across the world to attend school at Rydell High – home of the Pink Ladies and T-Birds. A timeless story of teen love, this is the musical that has danced its way into generation after generation. Why this movie is automatic. Its systematic. Why It’s Grease (Lightning).

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The Top 100 blockbusters of all time appear to be lacking one genre: the musical. However, in 1978 Grease, a musical based off the notorious “greasers” from two decades’ past opened in 862 theatres and reached $9 million in sales just in its opening weekend. The film was the highest-grossing movie of 1978, beating other movies that year including Superman, Animal Hour and Halloween.

I was around 9 years old when I first saw Grease, naive and oblivious to its blatant innuendos yet mesmerised by its catchy musical numbers and energetic dance routines. Yet the story of Danny and Sandy, two star-crossed lovers trying to change for each other, captures the attention of all ages as it deals with issues still relevant today nearly four decades later. The story follows the pairs on again off again relationship during their senior year of high school as they struggle through the pressures of the roles that society have given them.

This blockbuster is, as Thomas Schatz (2003) describes, a multipurpose entertainment machine that has bred soundtrack albums, video games and novelisations. The iconic T-Bird and Pink Ladies jackets have been turned into iconic Halloween costumes and in 1999, to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the film, the female cast of Sandy, Rizzo and Frency were turned into iconic Barbie Dolls. The “supersystem” of multimedia adds something special to the hit film that proves its blockbuster success.

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Kenickie, Sandy, Danny & Rizzo at the Senior Carnival (Grease, 1978)

One great importance of a summer blockbuster is that it has substantial cultural value (Stringer,2003). Grease covers many subjects that are just as relevant in this generation as they were back in the 50’s including: peer pressure, sexual politics, feminism and identity. The iconic song “Look At Me I’m Sandra Dee” showcases the pressure that young teens often endure to become more promiscuous to gain boys attention. During the time setting of the film Sandra Dee was the poster girl for everything adults wanted their young teens to be sweet, innocent and virtuous (Jusino, 2016). As good Sandy becomes bad Sandy, telling Danny he’s the one that she wants, she changes not for Danny but for herself, shedding the pressures put on her by her parents. The image of Sandra Dee was what Hollywood was trying to sell during this time and teenagers could see right through it, even though it was the 50’s  teens then were rebellious too.

Grease covers many subjects that are just as relevant in this generation as they were back in the 50’s including: peer pressure, sexual politics, feminism and identity.

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Bad Sandy

But Grease covers this theme from both sides recognising the pressure on the male characters and the roles that they play. In the following scene before the T-Bird and Scorpion showdown Kenickie asks Danny to be his “second”, telling Danny that he couldn’t count on anyone else in this situation. As quickly as the two embrace they pull apart and pretend it never happened in front of their friends. This scene, among many others, shows them breaking their usual cool-guy characters before toughening up their persona around their friends to ensure their reputation stays intact.

Grease was the directorial debut in cinema by Randal Kleiser, who previously had worked only on TV shows and short films. Through his direction, Grease used clever film techniques like the intercuts of Sandy and Danny as they sing Summer Nights together but to different audiences showcases how close they are yet still so far away. The film has a visual rhythm that keeps getting bigger and better as the film goes on.

The acting in this film is slightly mediocre, Caroline Westbrook (2015) describes it as hardly Oscar quality, but the chemistry between Travolta and Newton-John is undeniably sweet. Watching people long out of school play characters that are 17 years old is slightly amusing yet done so well. Travolta who had come straight off filming Saturday Night Fever continues his cool guy persona from disco to rock n roll through his greasy hair and wild dance moves. Newton-John however was lacking in confidence after coming from a failed series in the UK, requested multiple screen-tests between the pair before accepting her role as Sandy. At 29 years old she was unsure she would be able to play such a youthful character, however the chemistry was there and she took on the role of Sandy Olsson. The film went on to win every People’s Choice Award it was nominated for including Favourite Motion Picture Actress, Supporting Actress, Favourite Musical Motion Picture and Overall Motion Picture.

Grease didn’t have a high production budget, there’s not a lot of action, it’s definitely not based off a comic book series and its severely lacking in explosions or combat. Nevertheless, Grease’s blockbuster status lies in its music. The underlying themes of teenage coolness, mixed with amazing performances and costumes is something that sets it aside from everything else in the Top 100 blockbusters.

I don’t think there will ever come a time that I don’t love Grease. Though now I am a little older, and have a deeper understanding of all the controversial themes, I believe that its context will always remain relevant in the lives of teens, no one will ever forget those Summer Nights.

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References

Barbie. Grease Dolls http://barbie.mattel.com/shop/en-us/ba/grease-barbie-dolls#facet:&productBeginIndex:0&orderBy:&pageView:grid&minPrice:&maxPrice:&pageSize:&contentPageSize:&)

Box Office Mojo. Grease http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?id=grease.htm

Champion, L. 2015. Happy Birthday, Grease! http://www.broadway.com/buzz/181221/happy-birthday-grease-37-fun-facts-about-the-highest-grossing-movie-musical-of-all-time/

Filmsite. Grease http://www.filmsite.org/boxoffice3.html

 IMDB. Grease http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0077631/trivia?ref_=tt_trv_trv

 Hickey, W. 2014. The 11 Defining Features of the Summer Blockbuster https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/the-11-defining-features-of-the-summer-blockbuster/

 Jusino, T. 2016.  Four Reasons Why Grease Is a Feminist Musical. https://www.themarysue.com/grease-feminism-is-the-word/

Robin, M. 2015. 10 Facts You’ve Probably Never Heard https://www.biography.com/news/grease-movie-facts-trivia

Rotten Tomatoes. Grease. https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/grease

Seltzer, S. 2016. Sure, Let’s Talk About the Sexual Politics Grease. http://flavorwire.com/558873/sure-lets-talk-about-the-sexual-politics-of-grease

 Stringer, J. 2003. Movie Blockbusters https://ebookcentral-proquest-com.ezproxy.uow.edu.au/lib/uow/reader.action?docID=1487013&ppg=14

Westbrook, C. 2015. Grease Review https://www.empireonline.com/movies/grease/review/

 

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The Curious Case of the Tiger Temple

The Curious Case of the Tiger Temple

Thailand is one of the most popular travel destinations in the world with people coming from all over the world to see temples, beaches, culture and animals. The animal entertainment industry within Thailand itself is often pushed by tourism marketers as once in a lifetime opportunities to encounter tame wild creatures without risk. What is commonly not known is the long suffering that these tigers are often put through for this once in a lifetime opportunity. Now the World Animal Protection are taking a stand to protect tiger species from cruel conditions and illegal trafficking. Ethically the mistreatment of these beautiful species is so wrong, so it is important to understand the facts of what truly happens in the animal entertainment industry.

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Exploitation to Evoke Emotion?

Exploitation to Evoke Emotion?

This blog post today is a little late, I could come up with many excuses for why this is but my current one is that I just have no idea what to write. The idea of poverty porn and witnessing sad traumatic events really pulls at my heart strings and I often don’t know if my opinions are morally or ethically correct. I just want to be able to help everyone and make the world a better place but often we do not know if our generosity is being used in the right places.

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Bye Bye Blogging… Til next Semester

Bye Bye Blogging… Til next Semester

Blog writing has become a staple in my University degree and though at times I may think of it as the worst thing I have ever encountered I also know its importance as the career path I wish to follow. My processes reflected below have been challenging at times but I believe the overall outcome is something I know that I have worked hard to achieve and am proud with its results.

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Think of the Children

Think of the Children

 

We are well and truly in a digital era, our space and place is wholely consumed by technology. Even as I sit currently in the library people surrounding me are on their phones, their computers using them for studying and socialising. We are fortunate to live in a society that has quality access to the internet and the sites we want to and need to view. Regulation though frowned upon by users can actually sometimes be in their benefit, though few would happily admit to this.

Australia now has one of the most concentrated media environments (Phillips, 2015). In the cases of newspapers this may be an okay thing, by preventing one entity to control all of the news we receive we are offered multiple opinions about politics and have the freedoms to  make our own decisions. It was important for the government to make changes in regulation due to advanced in technology that allows the public to have access to digital content from anywhere in the world instantly.

 

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The Snap

The Snap

As another semester draws to a close it is time to begin thinking about final projects. Recently I have found and read a few articles about snapchat and its controversial, but user favourite, filters. Snapchat has now become a dominant platform within the social media sphere. Celebrities use it, so does the every day individual, even businesses use the little ghost to spread word about their products. The accessibility and controversiality of the app  used by 100 million people daily (Snider, 2016), is the drawing force for my digital story telling project.

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