Friday, July 1, 2011

Greasy . . . goodness? Maybe just greasy.

From an NPR interview about the Grease singalong at the Hollywood Bowl this weekend: "Why do you think this movie still captures new fans?" Answer: "It's just good, clean fun."



Or maybe right, if you define "clean" fun as tales of high school pregnancy, sexual conquest, and abandoning your morals to take up spandex pants and cigarette smoking in pursuit of the hot guy at school.

Then I guess that's right.

This is one of the funniest things to me about Mormon culture. And by "funny," I mean it makes me roll my eyes a lot. Hold on one second...

*Climbs on soapbox and taps microphone.

Attention, everyone! Attention, please! Adding a peppy musical score to something does not automatically make it family friendly. I'M LOOKING AT YOU, GLEE. Among other things.

I do not care if you love Grease or Glee. I like Grease. I just wasn't allowed to watch it until I was in college and then when I saw it, I was like, "Your parents let you see this? Aaaaagh!"

I don't like Glee for oh, so many reasons but again, I get why people do and it doesn't bother me in the least if you're one of them. But the moms watching it with their preteen daughters as "wholesome" family entertainment baffle me. Because . . . have you listened to the talking parts between the songs? 


(You can read my friend Susan's most excellent rant about it HERE.)

It's because we Mormons have these little hair trigger responses to certain things. "Oh, Knocked Up was edited for TV? Then everything about it must automatically be okay!" or "Oh, this was performed on Broadway? Fire up the soundtrack for the family singalong because I'm sure it's FINE!" or "It has the word 'Family' in it? Then I bet it's edifying as the Proclamation on the Family. LET'S DO THIS THING!"

That last one especially makes me laugh as applied to the ABC Family channel.

Ah hahahaha!

What the crap kind of family is watching that network's prime time shows together? How are they not all cringing and making a conspicuous lack of eye contact with each other? I can see it as a guilty pleasure, sure. But you could not pay me enough money to watch something like The Secret Life of an American Teenager with my adolescent child. Although you could maybe convince me to do it on the grounds that all the squirming will help me burn calories. (Side note on the CW: Gossip Girls should not be viewed by anyone under the age of forty not accompanied by a parental unit who can fast forward and/or clap their hands over your eyes to shield your innocence. Even if you're a grown up, married, sex-having adult.)

Let me be clear. I think a lot of people get that you have to use a little judgment when watching any show, whatever it is. I can sing the Grease soundtrack from memory too (except I don't sing that one song because, ew). And if you're making informed choices, GOOD. What gives me a giggle (okay, no, it's the eye roll) is this line of thinking: "Oh, a show about a high school show choir! How uplifting!" or "If the word 'family' is in the title of the channel, there's no need to worry.'"

Yes, you do.

Just sayin'.


Barbaloot said...

Does this mean that Book of Mormon play isn't automatically wholesome? :)

LisAway said...

Oh my. Look at you go.

Love it. I'm always baffled by people listing Grease (and some other movies) as their favorites. I mean, I understand liking the music and feel of the show, but I'm sort of like, "-- well, never mind what I'm like. I just agree with what you're saying.

We went with Ev to an award ceremony for students in our town (elementary through high school) and all of the award giving was interspersed with little acts/songs from Grease, and I was like, "um, yeah". What better to be showing to kids who already are probably like Sandy (i.e. good kids)? Maybe we can get some of them to follow her example this summer and loosen up a little. Then life can really begin!

No, just kidding. I didn't really think all those things, just your basic, "Nice choice of musical to feature". And the eye roll.

But part of that was because in Polish "Grease Lightning" is translated to "Laleczka", which means "little doll". That translation was almost more disturbing (from as masculine as it gets to a little girl's plaything?) than watching the kids playing the lead rolls get too close and sing about how they're burning up for each other.

Becca said...

My totally musical-theatre-loving kids are the only ones on the planet who aren't allowed to watch Grease. And I told them why. And it was something about "changing who you are to get the guy you don't really want anyway" and they rolled their eyes at me. And they're probably the only American teenagers who aren't allowed to watch Glee, because I'm not allowed to watch it either. When I saw the pilot, oh, heavens - I was so excited. Then I watched the next episode. Um, cavalier attitudes about sex? Check. Infidelity? Check. Disrespect? Check. Not worth the price. So we just download the music from iTunes and wear our square-shaped Molly-badges with pride.

Wendy Williams said...

Thank you! I am in 100% agreement. Grease, Glee, ABC family--Even some of the shows on Disney. So glad to hear I'm not the only one who's appalled.

NIKOL said...

I love this post.

I watched Grease when I was a kid. I remember I had no idea what Rizzo and Kenickie were talking about in the back seat of the car. What broke? What are you talking about? I didn't understand the whole pregnancy thing. I also didn't know some of the finer lyrics of Greased Lightning. I thought they said the girls would SCREAM. And that it was a real...I don't know....PRETTY wagon? PUSHY wagon?

My parents didn't pay attention to what I watched as a kid. I remember coming home and watching Three's Company reruns all the time. Now there's some wholesome programming!

Sarah said...

We used to watch Grease in my middle school choir whenever our teacher had a substitute. Great video for a bunch of preteens to be learning from... And yet, it was picked for it's great music. My parents were thrilled when they found out.

val of the south said...

My Beehive leader took us to see Grease for an activity. I didn't understand why she got in trouble for it - because I was so naive to the real subject matter!

I LOVE Glee music - we have all the cds but I sure don't let my 13 year old daughter watch it - unlike a lot of her friends. Are parents clueless or do they just not care?

Sometimes I feel like I'm the only parent taking a stand - I want my kids to be kids as long as possible!!

Brittany said...

Not only did I see Grease many times long before I was a teen-ager, but, when I went to my first Girls Camp and the theme was The 50's (we even had a Prom- Best. Girls Camp. Ever) my Beehive leader showed us Grease at a MIA activity. You know, so we'd know what to wear. After it was over she said, "It's a good movie, but I don't like how she changes for a guy at the end."
In all my viewings of Grease, (where were my parents??) that thought had NEVER occurred to me. And suddenly my favorite part of the movie was a little tarnished.
Point being, no way in he... are my girls going to be watching Grease, Glee or pretty much anything on ABC Family. I barely let them watch Disney channel or listen to Disney radio (mostly, on that one, because the songs suck).
So you go girl. Shout it from the roof tops so pre-teens as far away as Idaho aren't subjected to the same laissez-faire attitude about TV/movie viewing that I was.

Wonder Woman said...

A- to the MEN, sister!! Several years ago when Grease was re-released in the theater, I wanted to see it with my friends. My mom didn't want me to go. I couldn't understand why. It was a MUSICAL. What could be so bad?

Uh, just EVERYTHING YOU SAID. Teen pregnancy, drugs, lowering of standards for a I understand.

And when you mentioned something being good because of the word "family," I immediately thought of the ABC family channel. Secret Life is not a family show. I remember once seeing The Notebook on that channel. Now, I LOVE The Notebook, but it is most definitely NOT a family movie!!!

I confess that I have loved Glee. Season 1 was about 80% good. (Britney and Lady Gaga keep it from being 100%.) But this last season was a huge disappointment. We had to stop watching, and I don't do that. But it was just offensive.

I'd better stop there before I run off on a Glee rant.

Love this post.

Jolene Perry said...

Great post.
We no longer have TV. I swear the commercials are enough to make me crazy. And yes, I'm always amazed too at the idea of - if it's PG-13, it's okay!
because have you SEEN what they do in PG-13 movies??

I sort of half-met you at Storymakers (I'm pretty sure) and now I'm kinda sad I didn't know who you were. Maybe next time...

[Stacia] said...

Thank you!

Steph @ Diapers and Divinity said...

I. Love. You.

That's all.

CaJoh said...

I guess the subtleties have changed over the years and we can figure out what is wholesome or not. Did you ever watch Breakfast at Tiffanie's? Do you Know what the story is about? I never knew until recently, so perhaps these shows like Grease and Glee could make for a good teaching moment of what not to do.

Maggie said...

I had this memorized at maybe 13 years old, "You know I aint a braggin' it's a real ----y wagon, ya Grease Lightnin'."

Oh dear. I think I had every line to the movie memorized and never thought a thing of it until...duh, duh, duh... I had three girls of my own.

My hubs and I were also Glee fans the first season and when it just totally turned to trash, we'd had enough. We haven't watched it at all this year.

Funny post Melanie. We don't have cable, but if we ever get it, I'll have to keep a look out for ABC Family. Who woulda thunk?

Rachel Sue said...

I think this applies to movie ratings as well. Parents assume that because it is rated PG that it will be okay for their little kids. And they get offended when I ask that they NOT show my kids PG movies (Cause I'm kind of picky like that) they get all offended. Not every PG movie is made equal. And like you say, if you want your kids to watch them, great. Just, you know, help me out on my parenting journey and humor me a little bit!

Chantele Sedgwick said...

I watched Grease a few years ago and I couldn't believe how dirty it was! And Glee. Oh, Glee. How I love your music, but you are way too trashy for my taste now. The hubby and I watched the first season, but the first few episodes of the second season I couldn't handle it anymore. So we don't watch it now. I do like the music though. Not gonna lie. :)
And don't even get me started on Gossip Girls. :P

DeNae said...

Everyone has said it, so I won't. I love that Becca says, "I'm not allowed to watch Glee." Whenever I see that "adult content" warning on TV, I think, "Hmm. Pretty sure I'm not enough of an adult to watch this."

Karen Peterson said...


A catchy soundtrack does NOT wholesome entertainment make. I like Grease, but it's not something I would ever introduce a kid to. Ever.

Anna said...

I enjoyed Glee the first season. The second season went downhill fast. I'll eventually get around to watching it on Hulu, but I usually fast forward through the talking and watch the music parts.

Susan said...

Thanks for the plug! This explains why LisAway suddenly commented on my post that is six months old.

My mom let us watch Grease all the time growing up. I never got any of the sexual stuff because I was too sheltered and naive. Then I watched it in college (maybe I watched with you ;-O )and thought, "What the heck kind of message is that? And there is sex all over this baby!" I hucked my VHS of it in the trash. My kids will never see that movie!

And you already know how I feel about Glee.

The end.

Annette Lyon said...

Count me among the many who didn't get the Grease jokes until I was much older.

I agree on this. Oh, yes. Some shows I simply have to leave the room if they're on, and I get all Mommy Cop on my kids if something comes on I don't approve of. To their credit, they pick pretty good stuff and change channels w/out having to be told to.

Jessica G. said...

Yeah and I wonder just how many LDS tourist have wandered into the Book of Mormon show and then been silently horrified.
I watch Glee. But then I skip over the non-singing/dancing parts. And really, they need a new choreographer because every song has the same reaching, wrapping arms moves.

Ken Craig said...

Melanie, I get you. You and I...we go together, like a wom-pa-dah-do-womp, a womp bam-boom. Chang-chang, chang-a-di-chang-cha-bop. We'll always be like one. Wah-wah-wah-wah-uhn!

Kazzy said...

When Grease came out in theaters in the late 70s (or something around there) I went and paid for a seat about 4 or 5 times, and I never really got how racey it was. Now, of course, I am horrified that I was allowed to see it at all. Sheesh!

wendy said...

and what you just said....I agree, applaud, support.
It is rather ridiculous the LACK of morality and sense of good shuffled under the flaw of FAMILY FRIENDLY.

I stopped watching Glee, just my choice, like you said, not judging anyone here. NOPE I am surrounded by a huge glass house, so would never throw stones.
however, I too, know all the Grease songs by heart. far as YOUR blog goes.
Your'e the One that I love

wendy said...

And would someone PLEASE explain to me HOW one cane make a broadway play called The Book Of Mormon??????

Lara said...


I also think it is so weird how many moms were letting their 9 year old daughters read all of the Twilight series without reading it themselves. Uh...just because a Mormon wrote it certainly doesn't make it appropriate for your 3rd grader.

And Glee. My husband and I were so excited when it came out, and we made it through two episodes. I was sad that such a promising idea turned out to be pure trash. Even sadder that so many people enjoy such trash.

Melinda said...

Grease was one of my most favorite movies in high school. Number one? Dirty Dancing. Seriously. Did NOT get what they were about! So naive. Its sad some of the movies we were allowed to watch (and my parents were strict!) even classic 80's movies are BAD. Think "Goonies", "Sixteen Candles", "Ferris Beuhler's Day Off", etc. etc. You have good memories of them, then watch them as an adult and are horrified! :)

I don't watch Glee. At all. I started watching the Britney Spears episode because I heard so many people going nuts over it, I couldn't stand it five minutes in. So not family friendly. I also don't get the whole "I love the music" of Glee, because don't they just take famous songs and re-do them? I'd still rather hear Michael Jackson sing his songs than teenage wannabe's. No?

Also, can I say that books seriously need a rating system too? You think a book is going to be awesome because its on the top whatever list and its so dirty, it would be porn in a movie. But its GREAT everyone says. I hate that.
Anyway, rant over. ;)

If you didn't get that very wordy comment, I totally agree with you.

LisAway said...

I just had to come back and read the comments on this after talking to my husband about Grease yesterday. And a few people mentioned the lyrics of Greased Lightning so I looked them up. Wish I hadn't. I feel icky having read them. Good clean fun, that.

Lisa said...

Perfect post. Period.