Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)

I was not expecting to like The Rocky Horror Picture Show as much as I have. I'm not generally a fan of musicals (with one conspicuous exception), and while I do enjoy engaging in transvestitism, it's because I like the clothing that looks sexy on girls, not because I like to see other men wearing it. And though I'm very tolerant of alternative lifestyles, I've never really been very connected to the 'queer' community (I hope that's not offensive, I use the term with affection). I wonder how much my appreciation for Rocky Horror is related to my experience humping a hot girl in lingerie on stage the night I first saw it, at the theater. But now that I've had a chance to watch the movie again at home (so I can actually understand what's going on - not that the story makes a whole lot of sense anyway), I still find that I like it.

"It's not easy having a good time."

Now, the iconic image of this movie is that of Tim Curry dressed in drag, who spends much of the movie pining for a buff man in skimpy underwear. But the fact is, you don't have to be gay to like the film. My favorite scene is when Janet tears off most of her clothing and gets fondled by Rocky. Curry's character Frank-N-Furter is more pansexual than anything - he's neither straight nor gay, he's just free of hangups and social conventions. It was actually a queer interpretation of the film (in response to Glee's recent emasculation of the story's thrust) that increased my appreciation for what it stands for. It's all about the triumph of the counterculture over boring, traditional (prudish) values. If you can get over the sexual hangups, 'queer' culture is just another form of social rebellion; queer is to straight as freak is to square (akin to the kink community's usage of the term 'vanilla'). 'Heterosexual' and 'straight' don't have to be synonymous.

"What's this, let's see - I"

The movie itself is highly quirky, and very bizarre. But wonder of wonders, it's actually good - despite being a send-up of the horror/sci-fi b movie features it adoringly mocks. Rocky Horror is actually not all that scary - although it's essentially a perversion (literally) of the Frankenstein story - and is as much sci-fi as anything else. But what it is mostly is fun, and I'm sure that's why it has such an enthusiastic cult following. And that's precisely the atmosphere that's amplified in the theater when you go to see the movie complete with audience participation, costumes, and maybe even a shadow cast. It's all about having fun. And the music is pretty good, too. ;-)

However, I still prefer Tim Curry as the Lord of Darkness to an alien transvestite. :p

"Don't dream it - be it."

Note to "virgins": If you're interested in discovering what all the fuss is about, and you're trying to decide whether to watch The Rocky Horror Picture Show for the first time in a theater or at home, I say, it can't hurt to watch it at home first. Unless you see it with a pretty small crowd, you're going to have a hard time following the story and dialogue/songs through all the 'audience participation'. Once you've seen it at home, then I think you'll be in a better position to appreciate the excitement of seeing it with a crowd (and yeah, it's worth experiencing at least once - more if you end up liking it).

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