Study Guide

The Rocky Horror Picture Show Foreignness and the Other

Advertisement - Guide continues below

Foreignness and the Other

NARRATOR: I would like, ah, if I take you on a strange journey. It seemed a fairly ordinary night when Brad Majors and his fiancée Janet Weiss, two young, ordinary, healthy kids, left Denton that late November evening. […] It's true there were dark storm clouds, heavy, black, and pendulous, towards which they were driving.

The contrast between the sunny brightness of the movie's opening scene and the stormy darkness of the s second scene shows us that we are about to enter a world we are unfamiliar with, and one that may be dangerous, as the "other" is often perceived to be.

BRAD & JANET: There's a light...

CHORUS: Over at the Frankenstein place.

BRAD & JANET: There's a light...

CHORUS: Burning in the fireplace...

BRAD & JANET: There's a light, light in the darkness of everybody's life.

The big castle where Frank-N-Furter lives is dark and foreboding and definitely not what Brad and Janet are used to. Despite their fear of the unfamiliar, Brad and Janet hold out hope that the people inside will harbor some goodness.

JANET: Brad, let's go back, I'm cold and I'm frightened...

The other is always something that the protagonists of a story—here, two heterosexual white "squares"—find unusual and scary. Janet is the one who voices her apprehension about entering the castle.

BRAD: They're probably foreigners with ways different than our own. They may do some more...folk dancing.

Sometimes, the other is something that is secretly appealing to the protagonists. Janet is repelled by the weirdness in the castle, but Brad is strangely attracted to it. When this happens, the protagonist traditionally gets more than he bargained for. Brad is in for some surprises.

FRANK: Don't get strung out by the way I look. Don't judge a book by its cover. I'm not much of a man by the light of day, but by night I'm one hell of a lover. I'm just a sweet transvestite from Transsexual, Transylvania.

Frank enters and immediately declares he's different. His introductory verses, while boastful, are still intended to soothe, or maybe titillate, his timid visitors. He may be different, but he doesn't bite…unless you ask him to.

JANET: Is he, um, Frank I mean—is he your husband?

RIFF RAFF: The master is not yet married, nor do I think he ever will be. We are simply his servants.

Janet's titillated by the prospect of meeting a gay dude. Considering that she's a rural Texas girl in the 1970s, she has probably only heard of this elusive creature, and wonders what one might look like in the wild.

FRANK: Do you have any tattoos, Brad?

BRAD: Certainly not!

Brad reinforces himself as a "normal" and "good" Texas boy by assuring Frank he would never do anything as subversive as getting a tattoo. By the end of the movie, though, Brad will let himself explore the other side by dressing as Frank, and appearing to enjoy it.

RIFF RAFF: Frank N Furter, it's all over. Your mission is a failure. Your lifestyle's too extreme. I'm your new commander. You now are my prisoner. We return to Transylvania. Prepare the transit beam.

The film makes a bit of an effort to normalize the inhabitants of the castle, who are weird and foreign to Brad and Janet. Brad and Janet become like them, and there's initially no harm in it. But things soon spiral out of control, showing us that the castle's denizens aren't just harmless freaks, but dangerous cannibal aliens from another planet. Brad and Janet should have stayed in white-bread Denton, Texas after all.

This is a premium product

Tired of ads?

Join today and never see them again.

Please Wait...