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Thursday, June 7, 2012

Dirty Dancing--History In The Movies

Last night I went to see the 25th Anniversary of the movie Dirty Dancing sponsored by Skinny Cow, the makers of low cal ice cream treats. While I am the first to admit how much I enjoy this movie, as much now as when it first came out, the historical perspective you get watching this movie is without par.

You see the difference in health care. An illegal abortion--how scary it is to think we could ever go back to those 'good ole days?' Yet there are politicians today who are hell bent on doing just that. 

The movie also illustrated the difference in how women were treated and their expectations. There was the belief that women would grow up and even if they had a good education, they were supposed to 'decorate' the arm of a man at best.

The 1960s---a time of change. When girls were becoming women, and women gained power in more than just the home. A time when men were having to adjust their attitudes in the way they treated women but were uncomfortable with those changes.

Baby? Frances? One of the people near me in the audience commented on 'why did they name Baby Frances?

It seems few of them realized that Baby was named for a highly influential woman in the Roosevelt cabinet, Frances Perkins, a social worker and economist (as well as an early feminist) who was FDR's Secretary of Labor. Frances Perkins was one of the first women to fight for the right to retain her own name after her marriage--you go Frances!

There was also the racial component of the movie. Maybe 1 out of 50 cast members were not Caucasian. The early 60's was a time when Caucasian Americans accepted African Americans and other non-Caucasian as entertainers but not as equals.

I hope all of us learn something from Dirty Dancing other than how to do the Mamba or the Cha Cha.  I hope we learned how important tolerance, acceptance, and equality are.

I hope we learn we do not want to go back to those 'good old days' no matter how much Rick Santorum and friends would like us to.

At the end of the movie when Baby and Johnny do the last dance and the dance lift is a success I see it as a symbol of how the two of them have lifted the consciousness of each other and of some of the people in the movie. They didn't solve the issues, but they made a start. A few people at time. A few issues at time. It's the only way we make change.


  1. Makes me look at the movie in a whole different perspective. =)

  2. Seeing it through my daughter's eyes gave me a real new perspective on this movie. I realized how much they take for granted. That they really don't know how things used to be. It was a real 'teaching moment' (wow I hate that phrase) but even though my daughters are adults they learned a lot. Thanks for commenting.