“Consent is the word that you heard. It’s got groove, it’s got meaning.”

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Gracie Cox, Staffer

Grossing nearly $400 million the musical “Grease” is one of the most successful films of all time, its release having made huge stars out of both John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John. It seems fairly innocent at first with exuberant songs and nostalgic costumes, but don’t be fooled. Like most things in the 70s, “Grease” does not stand the test of time. It’s plot and script reek of misogyny. Sexual coercion is also a common theme among the greaser gang. Overall, it’s shocking that a movie with content so morally disgusting can accumulate such a massive and devoted fan base. Despite this, many have ignored and continue to ignore the insensitive content included throughout.

One of the movie’s greatest flaws is its inclusion of jokes about date rape and sexual coercion. In one of the musical’s most famous songs, “Summer Nights,” one of the greasers asks, “Did she put up a fight?” Forcing yourself on women without their consent; always a classic method to pick up all the ladies. Later on in the movie, we also see Danny grope Sandy against her will and pin her down as she fights to get up and flee. Clearly, this is not ok. However, Danny remains a beloved character in the eyes of viewers despite his evil inclination. And “Grease” will continue to get away with such behavior because it’s considered a classic, and “it was ok back then.” Even though it’s a very old movie, “Grease” continues to impact us today. Perhaps unknowingly, the film has furthered the normalization of sexual harassment.  

In “Grease,” the portrayal of female characters is almost as ridiculous as the amount of oil in Danny’s hair. Misogyny is ever-present in our daily lives, but it’s nice to sometimes catch a break from it in our media. As expected, “Grease” does not do this. Every female character is used to paint women as vain, stupid and worthless. They are seen as nothing more than sexual objects, which seems to be a recurring theme in Hollywood. As main characters of the movie, Sandy and the Pink Ladies are only rewarded with mini, trivial conflicts. For heaven’s sake, the female lead’s main obstacle is not being able to attract the man that she’s pining after! With every line and song lyric, these roles advance harmful stereotypes that women have been battling with for centuries. And besides that, Sandy’s portrayal is simply unconvincing. She behaves more like a blonde-headed, blue-eyed robot than a human. How can people genuinely enjoy this movie and not feel guilty about it? I’ll never know.

If “Grease” teaches us anything, it’s that we need to move on from the past. It may have previously been recognized as a delightful and unproblematic film, but the times are changing. As a society, we are beginning to become more aware of what is right and wrong. And as our awareness increases, we need to change what is wrong and attempt to better our world. This includes our media. If we want to promote gender equality, we simply cannot continue to watch movies like “Grease” that do the exact opposite.