I was born in 1978, (why yes I did just celebrate a significant birthday) which puts me at the tail end of Gen ‘X’. Sometimes I don’t feel like a ‘real’ member of my generation because it feels as though I missed out on some of the shared cultural experiences of the ‘X’ers. I grew up the eldest in a very conservative (maybe slightly right wing) Christian family. I have four younger siblings, three of whom are quite close to me in age. As a consequence my parents had a ‘one for all and all for one’ rule about what we could watch when we were kids. This basically meant that we could only watch G and some PG rated movies – definitely no AO’s (now I’m showing my age)! So I remember not being allowed to watch a lot of the popular movies and shows that were around when I was kid (and I’m not really complaining -despite the title of this blog I had a really lovely childhood). I didn’t watch Gremlims, or Ghostbusters, things like that. My youngest sister suffered from nightmares, so we were banned from watching anything which could give her scary dreams. (As a consequence of one of her nightmares we were banned from watching Dr Who-halfway through the season). In my teens I didn’t watch Dirty Dancing or Grease, movies which seemed to have a big influence in the cultural milieu that I was a part of – if the reaction of people to the music from these movies is anything to go by. People went nuts in discos, nightclubs and parties when the Grease medley came on and an awful lot of my females contemporaries know all the words to “I had the time of my life”. At times, particularly during my teenage years, I felt like I was missing out. Ahh, the eternal appeal of the forbidden. Everybody else was watching these movies and in some ways not watching them made them seem larger than life.
So it was with much interest that I watched Grease the other night. I missed the beginning but caught most of it on television. Perhaps, when one has anticipated a thing for at least twenty years, it has rather a lot to live up to. Suffice to say I was disappointed. I mean, don’t get me wrong, there is perhaps much to like about the movie. Charismatic leads, bright shiny colours, catchy songs and amazing choreography (particularly in the dance-off scene and the last song) mean that I can see why the movie has enduring appeal. (As a reflection of this enduring appeal the 30th anniversary double DVD set has just been released). But I thought the movie was appalling. Perhaps a decade of feminist critical theory has shaped my thoughts but I just didn’t love this movie. After all it revolved around a ‘pussy wagon’. Maybe I didn’t get it, but I can’t abide movies in which the heroine capitulates to male fantasy in order to achieve validation.
So what about you? Any childhood experience that was denied to you that you attempted to capture as an adult? For example, a friend of a friend got her much longed for ‘Woman’s Weekly’ Birthday cake as a 24 year old. And, did this experience live up to your hopes and wishes? Or was it, like my Grease experience – a big let down?