Study Guide

Grease Identity

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SONG LYRICS: We start believing now that we can be who we are.

As the title song, "Grease" (is the word) is worth listening to, and not just because it's almost as catchy as anything else the Bee Gees ever did. The lyrics, and the cartoon they're set against, are all about teenagers trying to define their identity…even if it takes twelve tubes of hair gel to do it.

MARTY: Jan, that is so adolescent.

JAN: We are adolescent.

RIZZO: We don't have to flaunt it.

Why does Jan say this? Is she popping Rizzo's bubble by telling her that as grown-up as she may want to be, she's still pretty much a kid? Or is this a meta commentary on the actors' ages, reminding viewers that even though some of the actors are approaching middle-age that we're supposed to pretend they're high-school students?

Whatever the reason, Rizzo's response tells us that she's determined to act older than her age. Key word here: act. She may seem cool, but she's just as confused and conflicted as the rest of them.

RIZZO: Go ahead, try it. It won't kill ya.

Rizzo hates that Sandy is a "goody goody" so she peer pressures her to drink and smoke. Why does Rizzo do this? Does she want to embarrass Sandy? Or change her? Or does she want other people to do what she does so she doesn't feel alone?

DANNY: The way I acted, I was terrible. I mean, it really was. I mean, it wasn't me, you got to know that. I mean, it was me, of course, but it wasn't me. You see, Sandy, I got this image, right?

Danny might think he's apologizing here, but he's missing a few key elements, mainly the fact that he doesn't accept any responsibility for being a jerk. He blames it on his "image." He's putting this "image" above Sandy's feelings, so it's no wonder she's upset about it.

VINCE FONTAINE: And now for you gals and guys, a few words to the wise. You Jims and Sals are my best pals and to look your best for the big contest, just be yourselves and have a ball. That's what it's all about after all.

We have no idea if Vince Fontaine realizes the irony of his statement. At the dance competition, no one is concerned with authenticity. Not only is Danny still hiding certain truths from Sandy, but everyone is trying to look their best for the camera. They want to be noticed, not to be real.

RIZZO: I feel like a defective typewriter. […] I skipped a period.

Rizzo tries to play off her pregnancy with her typical aloofness, but inside she doesn't like the way she's treated because of it. Patty Simcox spreads rumors about her, for example. But Rizzo's solution is to double-down on her fearless persona, acting like she doesn't care what other people think about her, when in fact she really does.

SANDY, singing: Wholesome and pure, oh, so scared and unsure. A poor man's Sandra Dee.

Sandy is beginning to care what other people think of her too. She's unhappy being the wholesome "Sandra Dee" namesake. But the real question is why. Is Sandy intrinsically unhappy, or is she caving to peer pressure from Rizzo and others to be more "edgy"?

DANNY: Oh come on, guys, you know you mean a lot to me. It's just that Sandy does too, and I'm gonna do anything I can to get her, that's all.

Danny is also changing himself—and the way he relates to his friends—in order to get Sandy, so we have to ask the same question. Is Danny caving to pressure, or are the two compromising to be who they feel like they should be for the other person?

SANDY: Tell me about it, stud.

This line marks the debut of Sandy's new makeover. She has big hair, a leather jacket, tight pants, and high heels, basically the complete opposite of her "wholesome" wardrobe. And while she's really good at walking in those sky high heels, she doesn't seem too sure yet of how she should act. Will the makeover stick, or is it just temporary?

SANDY: You better shape up. 'Cause I need a man. And my heart is set on you. You better shape up. You better understand. To my heart I must be true.

Considering we have asked so many questions about Sandy and her decision to make over herself, we also have to question the "to my heart I must be true" line. Is she being true to herself with this radical makeover?

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