Both new and former fans of the cult classic movie Grease, which was directed by John Randal Kleiser have been attacking the film due to its”problematic” plotlines. Rewatching Grease nowadays has led to accusations of sexism, misogyny, and inappropriate content. It’s undoubtedly one of the most famous musicals of all time, but some have raised issues with parts of Grease after rewatching the film.

Grease The Movie, Being Labelled ‘Sexist’ And ‘Problematic’

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What Was Grease About?

Grease was a box office and commercial success when it was released in 1978, establishing the careers of John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John. The famous musical tells the tale of Danny and Sandy, two 1950s teenagers who reconnect as seniors in high school after having a summer romance. Despite coming from quite different social groups at school, they make an effort to renew their romance. Sandy eventually alters her prim and perfect appearance to resemble Danny, the stereotypical bad boy, while Danny alters his looks to take on the role of the stereotypical high school jock.

The fact that some cast members were considerably older than the people they played on TV is well documented. For instance, even though Olivia Newton-John’s character was supposed to be around 17 or 18, she was 29 when she started filming Grease. Meanwhile, Betty Rizzo, who led the Pink Ladies, was written as a 17-year-old but was portrayed by 33-year-old Stockard Channing.

A magnificent soundtrack, including songs like “Summer Nights,” “Hopelessly Devoted To You,” and “You’re The One That I Want,” is included in the 1978 film along with its charming plot.

The musical was a huge commercial success when it was released, grossing an estimated $396 million against a $6 million budget. Since then, it has become a cult classic, and it has been saved and admitted to the National Film Registry.

Everyone wanted John Travolta’s swagger, men wanted their hair greased back in the style of the 70s, leather pants became the rage, the songs were young and fun, and love was the most popular emotion.

Grease The Movie, Being Labelled ‘Sexist’ And ‘Problematic’

Reactions After Rewatching Grease

However, many first-time viewers and committed re-watchers feel that Grease’s screenplay and general themes haven’t held up well after more than forty years.

Taking to social media, one user wrote:

“Rewatching Grease for the first time in years and realising how problematic it is.”

A second one said:

“I used to watch this movie so much growing up and it’s been a while since I’ve seen it and it’s all I remember it to be and more […] and by that I mean misogynistic, homophobic, and just a gross culture of toxic masculinity, rape culture, and paedophilia.”

Some people have said they felt uncomfortable with the lyric ‘Did she put up a fight’ in the song ‘Summer Nights’ as it suggests that Danny might have forced himself on Sandy.

“Grease singing ‘did she put up a fight?’ pretty much ruins the whole movie for me now aside from all the other problematic stuff,” 

Another one reads:

“Not offended by Grease, nor do I want it ‘cancelled’ or ‘banned’ but watching it now I see problematic scenes that make me cringe when I watch it.”

Newton-John actually addressed allegations that the film had misogynistic undertones before her passing in August 2022.  In an interview in 2020, she said:

“It’s a movie. It’s a story from the 50s where things were different. Everyone forgets that, at the end, he changes for her, too. There’s nothing deep in there about the #MeToo movement. It’s just a girl who loves a guy, and she thinks if she does that, he’ll like her. And he thinks if he does that, she’ll like him. I think that’s pretty real. People do that for each other. It was a fun love story.”