An unforgettable experience essay - what is a thesis statement in a rhetorical analysis


 

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an unforgettable experience essay

an unforgettable experience essayAn unforgettable experience essay -Sandra Dee represents not just strict morality and virginity in Grease, but the entire manufactured mainstream culture of 1950s America, a culture the kids of Grease reject.(Kids were told about the threat of a Cold War nuclear attack, but it didnt mean much to them and didnt really affect their lives.) Before the 50s, if kids worked it was for the familys survival. Meet them, know them as real people, not just visual ciphers for agricultural jargon.Grease isnt about Danny and Sandy (which is why fifteen of the shows twenty songs have nothing at all to do with them); Grease is about how rock and roll changed sex in America.Grease knows that sound because its creators lived it, the sound of Muddy Waters, Chuck Berry, Little Richard, and Bo Diddley.Like Hair before it and The Rocky Horror Show which would come a year later, Grease is a show about repression versus freedom in American sexuality, about the clumsy, tentative, but clearly emerging sexual freedom of the late 1950s, seen through the lens of the middle of the Sexual Revolution in the 1970s.Like Hair, Grease is an anti-musical, closer to the experimental theatre pieces of New Yorks off off Broadway movement in the 60s, and light years from other musicals running on Broadway at the time, like No No Nanette (in a terrible revival), Sugar, The Rothschilds, Applause, or A Little Night Music.She was a fake in her life, in her acting style, and in her onscreen emotions.But it did have infectious songs like "Greased Lightning," "Beauty School Dropout," "Those Magic Changes," and "We Go Together," and a solo for Patty Simcox that was later cut, "Yuck." New York producers Ken Waissman and Maxine Fox saw the show and recognized its surprising honesty and the appeal of its rough edges.But the studios teen flicks were inevitably artificial in the extreme, creating a freakish and clueless adult imitation of the teen world, a kind of cultural Frankenstein, that teens could see right through.The producers wanted everything about the show to feel rough, unpolished, de-glamorized honest and authentic, like Hair a concept the subsequent film and revivals did not understand.We tend to think that rural farmers are simple folk living simple lives. (The phrase rock and roll was originally African American urban slang for sexual intercourse, going as far back as the 1920s, and it made its way onto many rhythm and blues recordings before the 1950s.) As theatre, Grease finds its roots in the rawness, the rowdiness, the lack of polish that made Hair and other experimental pieces in the 1960s such cultural phenomena.Just as the greasers sported leather jackets, engineer boots, crazy hairstyles, and other rebellious fashions, so did their descendants, the punks, have their rebellious fashion statements in tattoos, piercings, and occult symbols. Critic Michael Feingold wrote in his introduction to the 1972 published Grease script: The people of Grease are a special class of aliens, self-appointed cynics in a work-oriented, upwardly mobile world.At that time the show had far less music, far less plot, and no central characters.That is the story of Grease and the story of America the way sex was changing and the part rock and roll and cars and drive-ins played in that transformation.Sandra Dee was a big star at this point, and just in the two years that Grease spans, she released The Restless Years (1958), The Reluctant Debutante (1958), A Stranger in My Arms (1959), Gidget (1959), Imitation of Life (1959), The Wild and the Innocent (1959), and A Summer Place (1959), jumping back and forth between empty-headed teen comedies and stark melodrama.To savvy teenagers, Sandra Dee was a teen sellout, and in a world where authenticity was the goal, there was nothing worse.The show opened February 5, 1971, in a basement theatre where an audience of a hundred sat on the floor on newspaper.Or her Peruvian garb, or the way she held the potatoes and oca in her lap? In that little field she grows 50 to 70 varieties of potatoes, for diversity she plants fields at three different elevations, each field on a seven year rotation.an unforgettable experience essayThough Grease implies many complex things, it is actually about the ordinary, everyday lives of a group of teenagers.Record companies were releasing more than a hundred singles every week and the country was about to explode.They stayed in the monotonous work routine of the lower middle class, acquiring, if they were lucky, enough status to move to one of the more nondescript suburbs, and losing their strongest virtue the group solidarity that had made them, in high school, a force to be reckoned with.And one of the points of Grease is that kids of the 50s could afford to worry only about their own trivial problems; there was no world war, no Hitler to fear anymore.The only people who were safe and comfortable were middle class and upper class white men (the only demographics that still idealize that time).She looked into my lens, and there was catchlight in her right eye. Or, was it her graven face, stoic on one side, weary on the other?They are not at the reunion; they will not be found among the prosperous Mrs.In the movie, the central love story may be the point, but on stage the romance is just a device for making a larger, more interesting point.And then the show moved uptown in June 1972 to the Broadhurst Theatre.It was the decade that gave permanent berth to both the concept musical and the rock musical, both explored during the sixties but now taking their rightful place in mainstream musical theatre.It is appropriate that the finale of Grease celebrates that solidarity, with the saving of its heroine, and the reclamation of its hero from the clutches of respectability a good lusty razz at the sanctimonious endings of those Sal Mineo j.d.Rizzos pretty great at choosing metaphors Still, for most kids, the fifties were a time when America caught its breath.[juvenile delinquent] movies (Somebody Up There Likes Me, remember?And it all boiled down to two central bogeymen, inextricably linked in the minds of the mainstream: sex and rock and roll. As Grace Palladino asks in Teenagers: An American History, "Did the world really work better when girls had no choice in life but to get married, blacks knew their servile place, and kids who lived outside the charmed circle of upper-middle class life were invisible?As Rizzo taunts Sandy with "Look at Me, Im Sandra Dee," she doesnt really know how dark that dark underbelly really is Darphne Merkin wrote in The New York Times in 2005 at the time of Sandra Dees death: the "darling, pink world," as she herself characterized it, that Sandra Dee was thought to inhabit by her fans had always been a grotesque mockery, plagued not by an overripened case of virginity but by childhood incest.According to Adrienne Barbeaus autobiography There Are Worse Things I Could Do, the producers hired Moore to direct because "Tom's strength was getting performances that were so realistic the audience didn't believe they were watching actors.Just as the characters of Hair and Grease reject conformity and authority, so too do both Hair and Grease as theatre pieces.Movie star Sandra Dee becomes Greases overarching metaphor for the artificiality of adult American life, a symbol that needed piercing.It was a wholesale rejection of the values of their parents and their parents culture, an aggressive fuck you to Pat Boone and the like.One agent tried to sell them on hiring the bright young director-choreographer Michael Bennett, but they didnt think he was right for Grease. They asked Gerald Freedman to direct, since he had helmed the original off Broadway production of Hair, but Freedman turned them down without even reading the script. an unforgettable experience essay What they see as family stability was really mind-numbing conformity and drug-addicted suburban housewives.Their chief worries are whether or not theyll have a date to the dance and can they get the car.All this made her cynically manufactured faade of sweetness even darker and more complex.The year is 1959, a pivotal moment in American cultural history, when rock and roll was giving birth to the Sexual Revolution and everything in America culture was about to be turned upside down.Grease looks at the fifties with twenty-twenty hindsight and it sees the darkness and deception of the decades role models and authority figures.The set consisted of backdrops painted on brown paper.Sandy Dumbrowski (notice how ethnic all the character names are, to suggest that they are working class) is mainstream America, reluctant to throw off the sexual repression of the conforming 1950s for the sexual adventuring of the 1960s.Goodbye to Sandra Dee Also like Hair, Grease is about authenticity, the watchword of that first rock and roll generation.Today, some conservatives idealize the 1950s as a time of moral clarity, patriotism, family stability, and traditional values, a time to which America should return. What looks to them like moral clarity was actually well-masked racism, sexism, and economic oppression.Today, it may be hard to understand what Sandra Dee represented, but she was the poster girl for the big studios attempts to make teen movies, a genre which was up until that point the exclusive territory of small, low-budget producers like the ubiquitous Roger Corman (The Little Shop of Horrors, Bucket of Blood, and others).Grease, generally considered a trivial little musical about The Fabulous Fifties, is really the story of Americas tumultuous crossing over from the 50s to the 60s, throwing over repression and tradition for freedom and adventure (and a generous helping of cultural chaos), a time when the styles and culture of the disengaged and disenfranchised became overpowering symbols of teenage power and autonomy.As a result, Sandra Dee later suffered from anorexia, depression, and alcoholism throughout her life.What they see as patriotism was more like nationalistic terrorism, demagoguery, witch hunts.The concept musical had been germinating since Marc Blitzsteins very political, very angry The Cradle Will Rock in 1937, but it wasnt until Stephen Sondheim and Hal Princes Company in 1970 that the concept musical was in a position to change everything.What they label "traditional values" were nothing short of race, class, and gender warfare.Nor, on the other hand, did they actively drop out; that was left to their younger siblings and cousins.Photographers live for these moments, when the world comes together and light streams into our souls, and the longed for image is there, in front of us. This is the story of finding such people and such moments. This one was worse, complicated by the global scope, needing to find farmers all over the world, working their fields, harvesting crops, tending livestock, and timed to perfection: when for rice harvest in Bali, for wheat in South Dakota, ground nuts in Mali or cabbage in Ukraine? My salvation came from another Peruvian woman: Maria Elena Lanatta, a communications officer for CIP, the International Potato Center in Lima, Peru. Once I found her, in short order she found farmers harvesting near Paucartambo—and a guide, Alejandra Arce, who knew them personally. The rows and trench pattern (called chiwi) are dug by hand with the traditional hoe-like Tacla, and worked four times before harvest. At lunch in the fields they gather around the traditional Pachamanca, where potatoes and meat have been cooked amid hot rocks covered with Mother Earth.Two of the Chicago cast members, Dinah Manoff (Marty) and James Canning (Doody) would play those roles on Broadway. Once the producers decided to bring Grease to New York, they set about finding a production staff.After decades of upheaval World War I, Prohibition, the Depression, World War II, and the Korean War suddenly times werent so hard and the world didnt seem as dangerous.That's what Ken [Waissman] and Maxine [Fox] wanted for Grease. an unforgettable experience essay What they didn't want was a cotton-candy musical." Its easy to hear on the original 1972 Grease cast album the raw, pure, untrained sound of 1950s rock and roll.The rock musical had been born with Expresso Bongo in 1958 and became mainstream with Hair in 1968, but it became a fixture on Broadway during the seventies, partly because the definition of rock was so pliable, so inclusive by then.But adults loved Sandra Dee; she reassured them that their teen was a "good girl." And many American girls took Sandra Dee as a role model but not the real Sandra Dee, the cheery public character Sandra Dee, confusing her onscreen persona with her real life.Or was it the jagged Andes behind her, the switchback road—bolting across the frame like lightning—or the clouds sliding over the peaks and down in whisps into the valley? Researching and planning such a photographic coverage for a story is always a big jigsaw puzzle. When she prodded me (oxygen starved and panting) up the mountain above Bella Vista I met Uva Callupe. (Truth told the majority of farmers in the world may well be women.) Her potato fields are about the size of a decent American living room. (Or sometimes fifteen years.) In a good year she harvests 20 bags of potatoes for each bag she plants, hoping to keep ten 70 kilo bags for her family of four, or about 1,500 pounds for the year.To a large extent, the 1970s marked the end of the Rodgers and Hammerstein revolution.Teen sexuality has been an issue in America since the invention of the rumble seat, always moving forward like a freight train, forever going faster and farther; and Grease is a snapshot of America right before teen sexuality exploded, examining the early cracks in the armor of middle-class "respectability" and repression, the fantasy American Dream that never was but that came beaming into Americans homes over the television airwaves.My picture editor Dennis Dimick had set the agenda: show us the people who feed the planet. Farmers, particularly in the third world, are often portrayed as objects, ubiquitous and faceless, without personal stories. Which is how I came face to face with Estela Cóndor on a mountainside in the Andes, harvesting potatoes.Everybody knew you didnt go to those films to see that part.A rock musical could be Jesus Christ Superstar, Hair, Two Gentlemen of Verona, The Rocky Horror Show, or Grease, none of which sounded anything like the others; and yet they all shared a disdain for authority, a taste for rebellion, and a sexual frankness to which only the language of rock and roll could give full voice.Danny Zuko (along with Rizzo and Kenickie) represents that segment of American teens already sexually active in the 1940s and 50s, who ultimately frees the conforming Sandy to express her sexuality without fear or shame, leading her into a new life and a new decade of sexual freedom a theme also at the heart, though far more cautiously, of the 1959 film A Summer Place, starring Sandra Dee and Troy Donahue.Honeywells and the go-getting vice presidents of Straight-Shooters, Unlimited.This was the conventional, repressed, hypocritical, manufactured life from which Sandy Dumbrowski must escape.Millions of Americans in postwar America were trying to live an American Dream that was pure fiction, particularly for the working class; and that fiction is symbolized by Sandra Dee, a fiction at the heart of Sandys arc in Grease.Originally a rowdy, dangerous, over-sexed, and insightful piece of alternative theatre, Grease was inspired by the rule-busting success of Hair and shows like it, rejecting the trappings of other Broadway musicals for a more authentic, more visceral, more radical theatre experience that revealed great cultural truths about America.They finally settled on director Tom Moore and choreographer Patricia Birch who had created such interesting, real staging and choreography for The Me Nobody Knows a show about homeless kids.Three decades later, American kids in the Reagan Era (The Neo-50s) would rebel in much the same way with the creation of punk rock.The girl with brimming brown eyes and a fizzy lilt to her voice was born Alexandria Zuck in Bayonne, New Jersey. Worse yet, Dee's devoted but manipulative mother turned a conveniently blind eye to the defiled sexual appetites of her new husband.Teen audiences didnt want that; they wanted High School Hellcats and Teenage Doll.After only three and a half weeks of rehearsal (again, in an effort to keep it from looking too polished), Grease opened off Broadway at the Eden Theatre on Valentines Day 1972. One hapless television reviewer said, "The worst thing Ive ever seen opened tonight at the Eden Theatre." It ran 128 performances anyway.During the 50s, if kids worked it was because they were saving up to buy a car or buy parts for the car they had. an unforgettable experience essay Meet them, know them as real people, not just visual ciphers for agricultural jargon. an unforgettable experience essay




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