Fans Rewatching ‘Grease’ Discredit Its Legacy & Point Out Why It’s ‘Problematic’

For nearly five decades, the musical film “Grease” has been a beloved classic known for its catchy tunes, energetic dance numbers, and a nostalgic trip back to high school in the 1950s. However, recent rewatches of the movie have sparked a passionate debate on social media, with some viewers branding it as “problematic” as well as “sexist” and “misogynistic.”

Released in 1978, “Grease” tells the story of Danny Zuko, played by John Travolta, and Sandy Olsson, portrayed by Olivia Newton-John, two high school kids who fell in love in the summer in the 1950s. They bid farewell at the end of the summer break, convinced they would never cross paths again. However, destiny had different intentions, reuniting them at Rydell High School. The drama unfolds as Danny and Sandy navigate the ups and downs of teenage love.

Boasting a chart-topping soundtrack that includes hits such as “Summer Nights,” “You’re The One That I Want,” and “Greased Lightnin,” the film ultimately raked in an astounding $396.3 million at the box office on its debut release. Despite its enduring popularity, a growing number of viewers, both old fans revisiting the film and newcomers, are discovering concerning issues about its content.

The critics argue that the film perpetuates harmful stereotypes and questionable themes. They point to instances where sexist and misogynistic attitudes are reinforced, not just in the script but also in the lyrics of the songs from the movie.

Then there are those who criticize the film’s portrayal of masculinity, claiming it promotes a culture of toxicity and even hints at elements of rape culture and pedophilia. These viewers argued that the movie’s characters and their actions send troubling messages to young people. In addition to concerns about sexism, some viewers raised issues regarding the film’s lack of inclusivity and representation.

“Rewatching Grease for the first time in years and realizing how problematic it is 🫣,” a fan named Basil wrote on social media in March 2023.

“Sorry I loved Grease when I was a kid, however, it’s just too problematic these days,” shared Rachel “Favus” Smith in April 2023.

In 2021, the Presbyterian Ladies’ College in Perth, Australia, canceled the production of “Grease” because some of the students said that it was no longer “appropriate in modern times,” per its headmaster Peter Burt.

“Just watching #Grease one of my favourite films and it’s so of its time. Misogynistic, sexist and a bit r*pey,” Dr Kelly, another social media user, said in December 2020.

However, defenders of “Grease” argue that the film should be viewed in the context of the time it was made. They point out that societal norms and attitudes towards gender roles and relationships were different back then. Some contend that the film’s ending, where both Danny and Sandy change for each other, suggests a mutual effort to meet each other’s expectations and desires.

Newton-John herself addressed the debate over the movie’s alleged sexism in a 2020 interview with The Guardian. She echoed the same sentiment that “Grease” was a product of its time, reflecting the norms and values of that era rather than a deliberate endorsement of sexism.

​​”It’s a story from the ’50s where things were different. Everyone forgets that, at the end, he changes for her, too,” the actress said. “It’s just a girl who loves a guy, and she thinks if she does that, he’ll like her. And he thinks if he does that, she’ll like him. I think that’s pretty real. People do that for each other. It was a fun love story.”

Are you a fan of “Grease,” and did your perception change after rewatching the film? Do you know another fan of this movie? Ask them about what they think of the criticisms by passing this story along!

Related Posts