Letter: Content of high school production disturbing

From: Brett Westbrook


I, along with my family, attended the Columbus North drama department’s presentation of “Grease” on Sunday. I was so impressed by the talent, hard work, creativity and dedication of all involved. The music, the sets, the actors, the singing, the costumes, the choreography, etc. were all outstanding. Kudos to all who were involved in the production of the musical. It underscores the tremendous talent that our young people possess and excellent instruction that they receive.

However, I must also say that the content of the production was very disturbing and I believe inappropriate for a high school musical. Even though some of the scenes were apparently edited or toned down a bit from the movie version, the vast majority remained unchanged, and there were no ratings or parent advisories given.

For those not familiar with the story line, it is a very sexualized plot. The songs are laced with sexual innuendoes, such as “Tell me more, tell me more, did you get very far? … Did she put up a fight? … We made out under the dock … She got friendly down in the sand … Well, she was good you know what I mean.”

Meanwhile, in the song” Greased Lightning” the car acts as a thinly veiled phallic symbol. And in the song, “Look at Me I’m Sandra Dee” a girl’s virginity is a thing to be mocked, as the song begins with Rizzo singing, “Look at me, I’m Sandra Dee, lousy with virginity.”

In “There Are Worse Things I Could Do” (than be promiscuous) Rizzo sings, “I could flirt with all the guys, smile at them and bat my eyes, press against them when we dance, make them think they stand a chance, then refuse to see it through, that’s a thing I’d never do.”

In addition to that a boy tries to look up a girl’s skirt, a DJ looks at a pornographic magazine, a sexual act is inferred, another boy refers to a girl’s bosoms and the audience is given the middle finger on both hands by one of the boys. So much for family entertainment.

It seems striking and ironic to me that the Columbus North Student Handbook (easily available online) clearly states that “students are not allowed to (violations may result in detention, suspension, expulsion from school): Use lewd, vulgar, plainly offensive, indecent or obscene language or behavior at school or any school function.” Additionally, the handbook states, “Examples of the kinds of conduct that may constitute sexual harassment include, but are not limited to: the unwelcome use of sexually degrading language, jokes or innuendoes.”

So, if this is forbidden for students, why is it OK for students in the musical to engage in these things and subject an audience at a Columbus North event to these types of conducts and expressions?

Are these the values that we want our high schools to be promoting? Personally, I think we can do so much better.