I kind of hate theater (I am the epitome of lowbrow and unashamed of it thank you), but I love movie musicals, probably because my mom and I bonded so often over watching her favorites together as a child. So I was pretty psyched to DVR last night's live staging of one of my favorites, "The Sound of Music." I haven't actually watched it yet (and I know the reviews were pretty bad), but even just a casual revisiting of the plot as an adult person was pretty enlightening.
I mean, I just thought it was a nice love story about a singing nun I guess? Like "Sister Act" with kids?
That whole Nazi subplot just really went over my head. I didn't really get the Nazi stuff in "Cabaret" either or like, the bisexual threesomes, or the abortion or ... there's some really messed up stuff in movie musicals. I guess cause there's singing they seem somehow family friendly? Not that anybody really thinks "Cabaret" is family fare, but everybody I knew watched Grease as a kid and I still remember each line's meaning that slowly dawned on me years later.
For instance, in Greased Lightening, "The chick'll cream" + "It's a real pussy wagon."
Or When Rizzo tells the carful of T-birds," Ok, so what do you guys think this is a gang bang?"
A GANG BANG! I watched this movie with my mother.
I'm pretty sure the entire Rizzo pregnancy scare went over my head too despite the fact that I used "There are Worse Things I Could Do" as my audition song for junior high musical theater. I actually recreated part of this audition on video this morning but I haven't decided whether or not I have the nerve to put it in this post except PROBABLY because I have a sickness that causes me to embarrass myself on the Internet daily. IT IS VERY RARE AND DIFFICULT TO DIAGNOSE I'LL SEND YOU A PAMPHLET BUT IT WILL PROBABLY HAVE A PICTURE OF MY BUTT IN IT OR SOMETHING.
Even worse, my junior year, my high school put on "7 Brides for 7 Brothers, a musical literally based on THE RAPE OF THE SABINE WOMEN. Basically things work out pretty good for one brother and his hot bride, so the rest of them decide to go into town and kidnap themselves some brides, inspired by this creepy song with the actual chorus "And the women were sobbin', sobbin', sobbin'/Fit to be tied."
I was by this point an indignant enough budding feminist to be actually pretty appalled by lines like "They acted angry and annoyed/But secretly they was overjoyed!" That did not however, stop me from auditioning and playing the bit part I was granted due to the fact that I was way too fat to get lifted up in any of the "brides" choreography.
But I digress since this post is about stuff that didn't really penetrate from the movie musicals of my childhood like that Aubrey was being domestically abused in "Little Shop of Horrors," the attempted rape in "West Side Story," what exactly was happening to Coco in that infamous scene in "Fame," and just what the hell Annie "cain't say no to" in Oklahoma. And did I have ANY concept that "The King and I" was about slavery and British Imperialism? No. No I did not.
I did know enough to be totally thrilled and titilated by "Dance: Ten; Looks: Three [Tits and Ass]" in "A Chorus Line."
I asked around xoHeadquarters about what messed-up parts of musicals escaped us as kids and got the following responses:
Natalie: Totally with you on the Nazi thing. Oh, and in Oliver! I never really understood that Nancy was implied to be a prostitute. I just thought she was pretty with a nice dress.
Marci: As a kid, watching the Bill Murray scene in Little Shop of Horrors, I had no concept of masochism.
Claire: Same with little shop of horrors. Not a musical, but I didn't realize that Holly Golightly (of "Fred") was a prostitute when I first saw that movie.
Marianne: It's not a musical but no one in my family ever once commented on how part of the plot resolution of "McClintock" (a John Wayne comedy) involves not one but two women being spanked in public by their husbands. Like over the knee with a coal shovel for one of them.
What about you? What did you miss entirely on childhood viewings of musicals or any other movies that finally clicked as an adult? Did you think Julia Roberts just had a really "nice dress" in "Pretty Woman?" Are you totally humiliated for me that I sang a showtune in this post? Or are you all just still feeling completely polarized by yesterday's Modcloth dress? I feel like that was really my Bjork wearing a limp swan moment.