I've lost too much of my life to Dirty Dancing
You know, no one believes me but I never had any use for those tardo girl movies. I wanted Olivia Newton John to be suffocated by her blue spandex pants. Travolta = REvolta. Every slumber party of my youth, without fail, someone would come with a VHS copy of either Dirty Dancing or Grease and at some point in the night I would have to pretend as best I could that I cared if you could see the Swayze's schwang as he got out of bed in the morning after scene. And don't give me that bullshit that they loved it BECAUSE it's bad. No, no. 8 year olds in the 80s weren't that sophisticated.
Maybe I was always just a little too dykey to give a crap.
Well, still am. A blog I read often posted the whole final sequence of "Nobody puts Baby in the corner" and I felt the same mortification come over me as I watched the Parkinson's tremor-like shaking of Jennifer Grey's flat white ass and the Swayze all sweaty rockstar kneel-slide across the floor to the poorly feigned audience reaction.
Hideous. Something at the core of my being is just appalled. Maybe it's the lack of self-consciousness of the 80s; the complete vacuum in which that version of American culture seemed to exist -- which is the only possible interpretation for why the final dance number would be set to a Michael MacDonald duet (sorry, just looked that up, not MM himself but who cares).
And as for Grease, I won't even go into how boring that story is and how I could give two craps about the music. Even today, drunk at a bar somewhere in JoCo as some aging soccor moms hear The One That I Want then cut through the bar din with their shrill squeals and hug and commence to dance and sing, I just can't handle it. I know I'm a party pooper but I just don't get it. A scene like that takes me back to those slumber parties where I sat on my sleeping bag watching bemusedly and feeling so very awkward as the girls who knew every word jumped up and down in the their Strawberry Shortcake PJs and squealed. And they thought they were really cool, and I guess I sort of bought that too because part of me wished that I knew those words -- instead of all the names of the Sunday morning wrestlers or the entire dialog track to Less Than Zero (I was a 5th grade nihilist). Part of me wished that I would pick a VHS copy of Dirty Dancing over the copy of Night of the Living Dead next to it.
It's kind of fun/scary for my own children to think about these self-reflective moments from childhood where a sort of innate anomie was revealed to me bit by bit. Of course, I didn't really know what to do with that information until much much later. I hope my kids don't have the same darkness of spirit that I do but if they do, I'd like to think I can help put it in context for them, maybe guide them to use it for good in the world.