Grease Live: Look at Me, I’m Sandra PC

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Alright, that title is probably a little scathing, but bear with me!!

Whenever I see a post that says something along the lines of “2015/6 is too PC! No one can say anything anymore!” I generally find myself doing an hour long eye roll. To me it sounds like some scrawny white dude sitting alone in his room with a Mountain Dew, complaining that he can’t call all women sluts and bitches, and everyone else some racist bullshit without getting called out on it anymore. But, in a twisted turn of events, I found myself saying the very same thing while watching Grease Live!

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I know I’m starting this post on a bad note – and I have positive things to say about it, but honestly I just felt like this needed to be said, so I’m getting it over with.

Before you start wondering, no, my problem was NOT with them removing the line “all couples must be boy-girl only”. That line is obviously dated, so I’m glad they removed it, but then again? You know what is also dated? The line in ‘Summer Nights’ “did she put up a fight”. And yet, that line remained. So my eyebrows were raised. But no, my issue will never be with things going PC to accommodate the basic human rights to dance with your desired partner and to not get raped.

What my problem was, was the toning down of the teen sexuality. Most specifically, the changes to the song ‘Grease Lightnin’. In particular the line “chick’s will cream” was changed to “chicks will scream”, and “she’s a real pussy wagon” was changed to “she’s a real dream wagon”. WHAT? WHAT IS THIS SHIT? I get it, I get it. Blah, blah, blah “won’t someone think of the kids”. But honestly, when I was a kid I had no idea what the lyrics to any song were, and when I did, I had no idea what they meant. By the time I knew what it meant for a chick to “cream” I was damn well old enough to be shown that sort of thing. And anyway, what good was it when you still had the raunchy dancing and teen sex?

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It doesn’t make me happier to know that it was because, according to Vanity Fair “corporate sponsors like Coca-Cola forced the show to tone down some of the language.” To what end anyway? If you want a family-friendly, Sandra Dee only show, maybe you should’ve picked a live rendition of The Wizard of Oz, or something else. The whole message of Grease is to discuss teenage sex and all that comes with it, there’s just no sense in doing away with it – especially when the themes are so inescapable.

But with all this negativity said and done, this wasn’t an overall bad experience. For instance, Jan, the character so often picked on for her “overeating” actually finally looks like a girl who eats Twinkies. Not to bag on the actress who played her the original Grease, but for a character who was always told she was fat and needed to diet, until now she had never actually looked like anything but super slim. More than that, but while she did have the odd comment thrown her way about her eating, and she made her own commentary on her weight, she also wasn’t thrown as much negativity as the original Jan. Now that’s a PC change I can get behind!

Now for the itty-bitty nitty-gritty – the performances. I would have to say, although I am a huge Aaron Tveit fan, there was little chance of him standing up to John Travolta, but I found the only issue I truly had with his performance, was of his lack of John Travolta pizzazz when it came to saying those classic lines. No one shouts/sings the name “SAAAAAANDY” or “why it could be… GREASE LIGHTNINNNN” like Travolta, and while it was disappointing that those pitchy lines were missing, I understand that they’re probably difficult, and even harder when performing live. Aaron… I forgive you.

Also while I’m on the subject of pizzazz and flair in performances – what was with having a singing trio instead of a Teen Angel? Those guys killed it, but really, why not just one of them playing the suave and sexy Teen Angel? My disappointment was real.

But here I am back to negativity! I’m sorry! I did like things! In particular Vanessa Hudgens as Rizzo, and Julianne Hough as Sandy. I felt Julianne played a spot on Sandy, and in fact, was very comparable to Olivia Newton-John. Vanessa’s Rizzo, I felt was a little more downplayed to the original, but I liked it, and I liked that this character was so different to the last performance of hers I’ve seen – Gabriella from HSM.

One last honourable mention and then I’ll wrap this up – Jordan Fisher as Doody – I LOVE YOU!!!!

TL;DR: It’s PC, but not in the way you’d think, and has otherwise made some positive changes to dialogue and casting to move this story into the 21st Century, but this version will still never stand up to the original. Nevertheless, it was all good fun and worth the watch… Just don’t expect to be throwing out your original Grease VHS any time soon.

Author: Manic Pixie Film Girl

Graduated with a film and politics degree. Business owner and social media manager by day, fangirl by night.

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