Guilty Pleasures: Jill Edmondson

You’re The One That I Want

Sometimes you just need a little cheese. Okay, maybe a lot. And along with the cheese, you need a healthy serving of singing, dancing, ducktails and fast cars. I’m talking Grease. Yeah, baby, Grease is the word when it comes to cheesy but delightful flicks.

It’s been well over thirty years since its release. I first saw Grease as a freckle-faced elementary student who didn’t quite get what the fuss was all about, and Hey, what’s the Sweathog Vinnie Barbarino doing in a movie?

I’ve probably see Grease thirty-plus times since its 1978 release, and to this day, when I watch it, I still wish wish wish I were Sandy Olsen… or maybe Rizzo. No, wait, Sandy, no Rizzo. No matter, as long as I’m not Jan.

Grease is something of a chick flick, I guess, and is indeed a guilty pleasure, kind of like having a whole carton of Häagen-Dazs for dinner… you only do that when the guys aren’t around. Like a lot of my girlfriends, I can watch this movie over and over again (much to the puzzlement of the men in our lives). And, like my girlfriends, I know every word to every saccharine song from the soundtrack.

The plot was basically a recycling of “boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl back”, but the lack of originality didn’t matter. Grease reinvigorated that tired story arc with bubbly songs, clichéd characters, cute costumes, and clever choreography. Who can forget the angels with silver curlers in “Beauty School Dropout” or the outstretched arms and the red dream machine in “Greased Lightning”?

If one were to do a feminist analysis of the movie, it would be bracketed with #FAIL. Chicks change to catch their man, too much emphasis is placed on looks, the girl next door is nothing without her guy, and the buxom girl with loose morals trumps the wholesome virgin, at least initially. (The bra-burning Birkenstockers should chill out and practice saying “rama lama ding dong” as fast as they can.)
The burgeoning beachside romance between Sandy and Danny that launches the movie is revealed through poetic gems such as:

Danny: She swam by me, she got a cram

Sandy: He ran by me, got my suit damp

With such an auspicious beginning, Cupid has no need to fire an arrow at this pair.

But wait! Things soon go sour. When the teens all go back to school, Danny is embarrassed when his homogenized milk girlfriend meets his WD40 pals. Too clean, too pure, too pink, Sandy is hastily dumped. She promptly laments her broken heart is a wistful, doey-eyed tearjerker of a song: “I’m just a fool who’s willing to sit around and wait for you.” Attagirl! Pine away for the guy who humiliated you! Y’all ain’t nuthin’ without a man to define you!

Danny soon gets a taste of his own medicine when Sandy dumps him at their reconciliatory date: “Stranded at the drive in. Branded a fool. What will they say Monday at school?” Obviously, in matters of the heart, image is of the highest concern. However, “they” probably won’t say much at school because the gang’s so wrapped up in their own problems. Pink Lady Frenchie is in the throes of a career crisis: “Well they couldn’t teach you anything. You think you’re such a looker. But no customer would go to you unless she was a hooker!” Tough gal Rizzo is like a defective typewriter (she skipped a period), and Kenickie is trying to keep the Scorpions off his back. These trials and tribulations are trivial, though, in the face of Sandy’s trauma: She’s lousy with virginity.

You just know that a movie with such a peppy soundtrack will offer happy endings all around. People don’t saunter out of cinemas whistling funeral dirges. The cool chicks pitch in to help Sandy change her image and become the chick Danny wants her to be. Danny meanwhile takes a stab at being a jock to impress Sandy.

The final scene is set against a carnival (foreshadowing happiness maybe???) Sandy struts into the scene, clad in stilettos and skin-tight black, smoking a cigarette (because that’s what all the cool girls do), and before you know it, Danny’s chills are multiplying. Within minutes, there are seductive gyrations in the shake shack, the gang’s making promises for lifelong friendships, and Sandy and Danny ride off together in a really hot convertible with a pristine white leather interior.

Sigh. It’s the fluff that dreams are made of.

Jill Edmondson is the author of the Sasha Jackson mystery series. There’s a thin line between Jill and her sleuth Sasha, although Jill has never worked at a phone sex hotline, and Sasha isn’t a language geek. By day, Jill is a post-secondary communications professor and ESL assessor. When she’s not writing whodunits or busting people for improperly using semicolons, Jill enjoys bumming around any country where they speak a Latin-based language. Jill loves headbanging rock concerts, ice cream, and palm trees and hates the color orange and the letter V. Jill is currently working on the bio of an underrated rock and blues guitar god, as well as the next Sasha Jackson mystery. You can follow her on twitter or visit her website.