May 16, 2011


Caught bits and pieces of this movie the other night. Laughed my tail off at most of the film and was amazed at the mass of talent found on the screen. The list of stars reads like a Who's Who of Disney Channel stars from the recent past with a sprinkling of mega stars from 20 years ago. John Travolta, Christopher Walken, Michelle Pfeiffer, Queen Latifah, Amanda Bynes, Zac Efron, James Marsden, and extremely talented newcomer Nikki Blonsky. (And why isn't Elijah Kelley a big star by now?)

The music rocks in an innocent and appropriate early 60's kind of way. Hairspray has a storyline that helps the viewers remember the strides made for racial equality in the past forty years. Snappy dialogue, stunning visuals, good acting, especially from Michelle Pfieffer playing the beautiful and villainous Velma Von Tussle. Good stuff. Almost perfect.

While I appreciate the breaking of stereotypes so central to the film's message, writers Leslie Dixon and John Waters with director Adam Shankman wrongly reinforce one while they break one: Allison Janney's character Prudy Pringleton is a bigoted, abusive woman who adheres to a version of Christian belief that paints a broad ugly stroke across an entire sea of people. With no comparison to others who share her commitment to God and the Bible in a healthy, loving, and normal way. Wrong move.

If the same negative stereotypes were applied to other characters in the film, there would be outcries from the public. What if every single black character was portrayed speaking in a poor, broken, Southern English dialect? All white characters couldn't dance? All gay men portrayed in drag, femininely parading down the streets of the town? Imagine the anger.

Prejudice and stereotypes are ugly in all forms, aren't they?

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