To many people, Grease is considered a family movie. It is fun to watch and has many songs to sing along with and stick in your head after. It’s a musical and it’s meant to be entertaining; but, if you really listen to the lyrics you will realize how many of them are actually very naughty.
The precise definition of "family friendly" can vary depending upon the perceived acceptability of content for children. Values vary from family to family, and parent to parent. On critical analysis and by any definition of the phrase, Grease is not a “family” movie.
When Grease first came out it was rated PG, over time the movie rating was adjusted to PG-13. In current times, it is generally accepted that a PG movie is safe viewing for most children. A PG-13 rating better informs parents that the movie contains content which they may not want their children exposed to.
Being a musical the film is filled with original songs. Whether they admit it or not, most love to sing along to the songs, they are incredibly catchy! Yet, while people may be singing along, they are probably not paying attention to the meaning of the lyrics. It was recently pointed out to me how raunchy the lyrics of some of the songs actually are. In fact, I didn’t know all the words to the songs in the film so I decided to look up a few of them.
In the timeless song “Greased Lightning” it references very sexual themes. A few examples of the lyrics are: “With the four speed on the floor, they'll be waiting at the door, you know that ain't no shit we'll be getting lots of tit” and “You are supreme, the chicks'll scream, for grease lightning”. In another song “Look At Me, I’m Sandra Dee” Rizzo (Stockard Channing) makes fun of Sandy (Olivia Newton-John) for being a virgin. The whole song is filled with sexual references like “Lousy with virginity” and “Elvis, Elvis, let me be! Keep that pelvis far from me!” As you can see-and hear, from the lyrics alone, Grease cannot be considered a family movie.
Along with audio reasons there are multiple visual moments that add to my argument. In the first scene at the school all the main characters are either smoking, or have a cigarette visible. With the idea of making the “T-birds” and “Pink Ladies” the popular people at the school, it gives the impression that smoking cigarettes is the cool thing to do. Now some people may say that in the 50’s it was “cool” to smoke, it was a normal thing to do because at the time they were not aware of the health risks, but when I first saw Grease I was not informed of that. My parents did not think to tell me the facts from the time this film was made. Along with all the smoking throughout the film, there are also scenes where the characters are drinking or appear to be drunk. In the sleepover scene Rizzo brings a bottle of desert champagne and offers it to all the girls. All of them take a drink of it. As the movie is set in high school this scene is promoting underage drinking.
The representation of sex is the primary reason I do not consider Grease a family movie. There are so many scenes that involve sexual acts or even sexual sayings. There are countless dance moves involving skirt lifting, making out, and many other more sexual moves.
One of the main sex scenes is with Kenickie (Jeff Conaway) and Rizzo in a parking lot. They are making out in a car and have unprotected sex, even though Kenickie’s condom broke after he took it out of the package, Rizzo’s suspected pregnancy is announced later in the film. This scene makes it seem normal to have unprotected sex, while our generation is always told to “Be Safe.”
Throughout the movie, Sandy rejects the pressure and doesn’t accept the idea that to be friends with the people she wants to be she would have to change her ways. However, in the end, she does change. She becomes just like the rest of the pink ladies by dressing in tight, raunchy, almost slutty clothing, smoking, and becoming exactly what Danny wanted. Sandy was the only source of innocence in the movie, without her changing the movie would have carried a very different message. Even with Sandy in the movie, the presence of sex and smoking is still there. It still has an influence on the audience whether the influence be to smoke cigarettes, have unprotected sex, or change self-morals in order to fit in it can affect the audience greatly.
I hope I have conveyed that Grease is a very sexual film. Whether it is a suggestive song lyric, a dirty dance move, a blatant display of intercourse something sexual happening throughout the film. Though the film is too sexual some may say the sense of innocence is kept alive in Sandy’s character keeping the “family friendly” illusion in place.