It’s hard to deny that Grease is an enjoyable movie to watch. The music is catchy, the dancing is amazing and the style and 50s theme are always fun. However, as with most movies that were released over forty years ago, there are many things about Grease that just don’t age well. Watching this movie in 2020, it’s impossible not to notice the blatantly sexist attitudes and toxic teenage behavior that pervade the entire film.
If anyone was looking for a movie that gives teenagers good advice and advocates being true to yourself, maybe skip this one. Here are 10 terrible pieces of advice that we learned from watching the movie Grease.
10 Women Can't Have Careers
Admit it, you’ve had "Beauty School Dropout" stuck in your head at least once in your life. It’s catchy and kind of a goofy scene. It also involves some very sexist lyrics. The song (sung by Frenchy's imaginary guardian angel) makes fun of Frenchy’s failures in beauty school and encourages her to give up on her dream. "Beauty School Dropout" does the opposite of encouraging women to join the workforce with lines like “Baby don't sweat it. You’re not cut out to hold a job”. And while the advice of giving high school another try might not be completely terrible, the message of the song isn't "try beauty school again later" it's "give up on your career".
9 There Won't Be Consequences To Your Actions
Many teen movies are guilty of perpetuating this very untrue idea. You can smoke, drink, break the rules, and have unprotected sex and there will be absolutely no negative consequences. In one scene in particular, Kenickie picks up Rizzo so they can drive off and have sex in his car. When Kenickie discovers that his condom is broken, Rizzo says, "What the hell". As in, what the hell, let's have sex anyway. It seems like Grease is almost moving in the direction of a moral to the story when Rizzo has a pregnancy scare, but it turns out to be a false alarm and everything ends up fine.
8 Give Into Peer Pressure
The amount of peer pressure in this movie is insane. Remember the iconic sleepover scene? Frenchy invites Sandy to the Pink Ladies sleepover to make her feel better about Danny acting like a jerk. Frenchy is one of the first friends Sandy makes at Rydell High, so of course Sandy accepts. However, at the sleepover the Pink Ladies pressure Sandy into smoking and drinking. Frenchy even convinces her to let her pierce her ears. Then the girls make fun of Sandy when she starts to feel sick. Sandy might just be better off finding nicer friends.
7 Smoking Is Cool
One that note, does every teenager in this movie smoke? Sure, Grease is set in the 1950s, before it was widely known that smoking is hazardous to your health, but it was widely known when the movie was made. Regardless of the era, Grease really perpetuates the idea that smoking makes you look cool.
Sandy even takes up the habit, despite the fact that she couldn't stand cigarettes at the beginning of the movie. By the end of it she is puffing away in her leather pants to impress Danny.
6 Change For A Guy
Ah yes, the moral of the story. Sweet, innocent Sandy begins the movie as a modestly dressed, soft spoken Aussie. She doesn't drink or smoke, and she is more interested in the romantic aspects of relationships than the sexual ones. By the end of the movie, and after a falling out with Danny, Sandy decides that she must change her looks and attitude to impress him. She dons black leather and heels, takes up smoking, and possibly somehow made her accent disappear. Danny is definitely impressed, but at the cost of the old Sandra Dee, who seems to have disappeared for good.
5 Change For A Girl
These two entries are in the same vein, but equally important. Sandy wasn't the only person who changed herself for a relationship. When Danny finds out that Sandy is dating a jock, he decides that he should try out for sports. He even manages to letter in track and field. While there is nothing wrong with trying out some new hobbies, it is clear that being a jock really isn't for Danny. He only gives sports a try for Sandy, and tells his friends, "I'm gonna do anything I can to get her".
4 Men Only Care About Sex
Another harmful stereotype perpetuated by Grease is the idea that men are only interested in sex. It's painfully apparent from the dialogue and actions of the T-Birds that this is their one goal in life. When Danny and Sandy sing "Summer Nights", her side of the story is focused on the romantic aspects of the relationship, while he mostly discusses the sexual aspects to impress his friends. Not to mention the disturbing line, "Did she put up a fight?". The whole film basically pushes men to be tough, emotionless and sex-centered.
3 Women Shouldn't Eat Too Much
Unfortunately, fat-shaming and food-shaming are a few more things that run rampant in Grease. Other than being a member of the Pink Ladies, Jan's whole character revolves around the fact that she likes to eat a lot. She is constantly eating in almost every shot and her few lines involve gems such as, "Don't let me near the refreshment stand!". Even her love interest Putzie's only "romantic" line to her is, "I think there's more to you than just fat".
All of this is not even based on Jan's weight or appearance (not that that would make fat-shaming okay), but on the fact that she is a woman who actually lets herself enjoy food.
2 Don't Be Prudish, But Don't Be Too Open?
This fun little piece of advice is of course, directed at women. Again, for the men of Grease, the more women they have sex with the better. For the women it's a little more complicated. They don't want to seem prudish or they risk being mocked by Rizzo ("She looks too pure to be pink"), but god forbid they be too open about their sexuality. Rizzo is slut shamed ("You think I don't know what people are saying about me") for having sex and her pregnancy scare, and Danny refers to her as "sloppy seconds". Grease perpetuates the idea that women must walk the impossible fine line between bore and whore.
1 Pick On Others
We've already gone over the fact that the women of Grease pick on each other with slut-shaming, peer pressure, and gossip. However, the men of Grease do their fair share of bullying too. Doodie, Putzie and Sonny are frequently seen picking on one student named Eugene, who carries the classic teen nerd trope. Danny and Kenickie seem more focused on making fun of the preppy types like Patty Simcox and jock types like Tom Chisum. This bullying is presumably because jocks and preps are the opposite of greasers, however there is also some jealousy on Danny's part when Sandy takes an interest to Chisu.