In a day and age where it seemingly doesn’t take all that much to get canceled, certain stories and movies from the past are being called into question when looked at through a modern-day lens. Sometimes it might be warranted while other times it sure feels like we are honing in a little too closely and creating “problems” where there might not be any. The latest word is that the folks might want the musical Grease canceled. In a story from the West Australian (via the NY Post), it looks like students in some schools Down Under are calling for the removal of Grease as a school musical production.
So, is Grease canceled? Apparently, two separate schools, Presbyterian Ladies’ College and Scotch College issued statements about Grease saying that after receiving students’ concerns and complaints that they wouldn’t be moving forward with productions based on the musical. Instead, they would be changing their tunes, so to speak. This apparently came in response to students at both schools pointing out that the musical wasn’t “appropriate in modern times”. The planned joint production of Grease between the two institutions was scrapped.
At the heart of the complaint to have Grease canceled was the relationship between Danny and Sandy that is central to the story. According to a joint statement put out by both schools, students weren’t comfortable with the way they saw Sandy change in accordance with Danny’s preferences in the musical. They also took umbrage with some lyrics in the songs, specifically in “Summer Nights” around the lines, “Was it love at first sight? Tell me more, tell me more, Did she put a fight?” This latter line refers to Sandy possibly first turning down Danny’s advances.
Another of the issues students took issue with when it came to having Grease canceled was that Sandy “changed” at the end of the movie, donning a black leather outfit that would more appeal to Danny’s greaser sensibilities and style. But it ignores that Danny made a change in kind, joining the track team and becoming a letterman in sports when it was all said and done. Nevertheless, it looks like the schools have moved on to different musical pastures. Time will tell if others follow suit along these cancellation lines or if the musical is able to stand up as being a silly period piece, in line with the sensibilities of the time.
This might not be enough to have Grease canceled though. Grease was originally released as a musical in 1971 and then adapted to a full-length feature movie in 1978. The leads of Danny Zuko and Sandy Olsson were played by John Travolta and Olvia Newton-John respectively, The story is set in the 50s with the plot revolving around the opposites-attract theme between greaser Danny and “square” Sandy. The over-the-top set pieces and musical numbers made it a complete hit at the time, scoring major box office success. On its $6 million budget, the film earned more than $366 million in ticket sales marking it as one of the truly huge wins, by percentages, ever. There is a reason it’s still performed today. Elements of the story resonate with folks, plus they love the songs. This might save the effort to get Grease canceled when it is all said and done.