"Is There a Drink for, like, Totally Obnoxious?"
One of the more successful adaptations was the movie we're drinking to this week: Hairspray. Based on a musical which was based off a movie, it's a beautiful example of the fun, pop schlock that came out around that time. Its bright colors, catchy songs, and inspirational quotes left teenagers and adults alike dancing in the aisles. Also, this movie brought us John Travolta in drag, and that is just the gift that keeps on giving.
But is there any substance under all this style? Did this movie deserve to be the smash hit it was? Welcome to the 60's. It's time to get your drink on.
"Drunkspray": The Rules
1. Drink for Title Drops. That's every time someone says the word "Hairspray".
2. Drink when they drink.
3. Drink for Daddy Issues
4. Drink when anyone mentions Tracy's weight.
5. Drink for dancing. Only once per scene. Or you'll die.
All the above rules apply. Also...
1. Drink for song title drops. Like most pop musicals, this movie kicks you in the balls with title drops.
All the above rules apply. Also...
1. Drink when someone says something that could be considered "inspirational".
2. Drink when someone makes an allusion to another person's race.
Krissy Pappau: Still hopes to play Penny Pingleton (Hard)
Pooh Daddy: Knows which parts of the musical were cut (Easy)
Seb: Thinks the colors in this movie are drab compared to the Broadway show (Easy)
The Fuzzy Masked Man: Fell a little bit in love with Christopher Walken (Medium)
and introducing Lady Poppy Middleton: Taken by surprise by the "song title drop" rule (Medium)
Feel free to sing along...if you can manage, with all the drinking you'll be doing. It's the Hairspray drinking game!
Weighty Subject Matter
...Or at least that's what her arc WOULD be about if she ever had any doubts about achieving her dreams in the first place.
"Tracy is the blandest character ever," The Fuzzy Masked Man said as she danced down the streets of Baltimore. "Her only character trait is that she's fat."
Yeah, actually, that sounds about right. Apart from her weight, Tracy exhibits traits that could be used to describe ANY high school girl obsessed with pop culture. She's bubbly, she's easily excitable, very stubborn, and blind to most things she's not in love with. The problem is that most of these traits come through in the way Tracy's portrayed by Blonsky, who is a very strong personality herself and does a lot with very little. Moreover, the issue with Tracy is that she has no internal conflict during the whole movie.
From the beginning of the movie, as Seb points out, "It's based around how other people treat her." Tracy doesn't have any self-confidence issues about being fat. Mostly it's her mother, or her teachers, or the television executives saying that her weight's stopping her from being a star. Tracy knows she's meant for television, and stops at nothing to achieve her goals. Which makes her a good role model, but as our main character leaves her with nothing to do except go around solving everyone else's problems.
Really, Tracy has Jesus-Level abilities of persuasion and charisma. She convinces her mother to leave the house and go dress shopping of all things when she's done neither in over ten years (because Travolta's character is actually the one with the self-confidence issues). She fixes her parents' relationship. And then to top it all off, she GIVES her new black friends the idea to march in protest against the television network and then LEADS the protest, along with Motormouth Maybelle.
But hey, it's easy to cut through huge cultural issues when everyone involved is a caricature.
"A" Romance vs. "B" Romance
But then you have your "B" romance, between two supporting characters, and that's really where the meat of the movie is. Penny and Seaweed are incredibly sexy together. They're each cool characters in their own right; Penny's trying to break free of her uber religious upbringing, and Seaweed's a dancing machine trying to have as much fun as he can while being constantly looked down on by half his hometown. The two lock eyes, fall in love, spend the rest of the movie wondering if the racial divide will keep them apart forever, and finally tell the rest of the world to kiss their asses by making out on live television. It's magical.
Nope. It's because, as we've established already, everything has to go perfectly for Tracy in this movie, and that involves convincing the ideal boy to fall in love with you too. Link is a mannequin, a stand-in for every pretty face that you feel you're not good enough for. Several times in the movie he's referred to as the "prize", especially by Tracy. Tracy doesn't love him because of anything he's done for her or any special traits he's exhibited. She loves him because he's the best. Unfortunately, even though someone with Seaweed's energy and optimism would probably be a better match for Tracy, according to the movie's logic she must end up with the ideal, with the prize. Nice to see that men can be objectified too, I guess, but an interracial AND compatible match between Tracy and Seaweed could have been awesome.
On the plus side, Amanda Bynes and Elijah Kelley have perfect chemistry, and now we have even more reason to mourn Amanda Bynes' transition into "crazy former child star". We miss you, Amanda.
Well, that's debatable. But take a look at the song for yourself. At the very least it sexualizes food and people who love it.
"But if there really is no subtext to this," countered Poppy, "then what are we doing?"
Is it enough for a movie to just be fun and likable? If so, this movie passes with flying colors. It wears its heart on its sleeve and holds nothing back, like a young teenager going after their first love. It's idealistic, it's passionate, and it makes us all hope for a brighter tomorrow.
And if it really is trying to slip us some subliminal messaging...it's doing a piss poor job.
Also, movie? One last thing: stop working against yourself. You're preaching equality and equal treatment, and you feel like you can't do that without shouting at the top of your lungs. You're very over the top. And you're not consistent. The most believable romance in the movie was between Travolta and Walken, and they don't even kiss. Nut up. Make stronger choices. And treat people like people.
Drink whenever Link winks.
It's a reflex with this kid. Whenever he's introduced to a person, he winks at them. He can't control it. And it's hilarious.
Drink for allusions to sluttiness.
There's a whole lot of slut shaming in this movie. Even our main villain uses her sexuality to get what she wants, and all the girls on the Corny Collins show secretly think their competitors are stuffing more than ballot boxes.
Drink for references to food.
This actually happens more than direct references to Tracy's weight. And even if she's naturally heavy, it's clear that Edna is fat because she likes to eat and never leaves the house.
For Your Inebriation is written by Krissy Pappau (Hollis Beck). Video footage is taken by Pooh Daddy (Vincent Graham) and edited by Seb (Amy Yourd). All "Hairspray" images are owned by New Line Cinema.