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February 17, 2006

Comments

auds

A balance has to be struck between offering teenagers an alternative and actually preparing them for the real world.
THe real world consists of universities where FemSex, as detailed below, happens.
Grease is as pure as driven snow in comparsion. Communities that expect teenagers to behave in a certain way should prepare them for the reality of the challenges that they will face.
Abstaining from sex is very easy when all your friends, parents and community are hypervigilant - teenagers don't live with their parents for life and need to have a deeper appreciation of the values they hold. Expecting Grease's protrayal of lewdity to corrupt teenagers, while real in one sense, will do more harm than good - it not only is slightly unreasonable in the face of more serious immorality but it also removes the essential preparation of self examination and self motivated action that chastity requires. And it also removes trust from the equation - if parents believe Grease will have such a corrupting influence on their children, how can their children believe that their parents' trust them? Or that they have a personal responsibility to uphold that trust themselves?
Honest appraisal of how things are is much preferable to carefully closeting teenagers - this only serves to convince parents of how active and good they are in raising their children - that is, until the real world hits and parents are far away, and their children are making decisions for themselves, for the first time, without any preparation in deciding for themselves what their moral response should be.

Mary O

Eve, I agree it's not a good trend. It seems related to political correctness, where certain things simply cannot be said because it might offend someone. The public schools are trying to not offend anyone. The result will be theatre that's that as boring as Gerber's pureed peas and won't challenge the audience in any way. Schools should be encouraging their students to be critical thinkers, which they'll never achieve if all the schools to is "protect" the students. I very much like your idea of encouraging dicussions about Grease instead of shutting it down.

That said, I still defend the Catholic colleges that didn't allow VM on their campuses (and only a handful of hundreds of Catholic colleges did in fact ban it). The mission of a Catholic college is different from the mission of a public grade school or high school. And parents are paying big bucks for a specific religious frame of reference. The VM production is truly at odds with Catholic teachings and theology. I think that's fundamentally different than censoring a production of Grease.

Eve

Mary,
Thanks so much for your thoughtful comment. This trend of banning plays in public and private non-religious schools may actually backfire and provoke students to rebel and go on to enact the behaviors in Grease that the parents are trying to block. It's actually quite dangerous to not allow these children, who are integrated with the mainstream culture, to discuss and think about the messages being sent to them by plays, books, movies, TV, etc.. Let them perform Grease and then have workshops surrounding these issues-- there is value in the musical and the disturbing parts can be analyzed; critical thinking is a wonderful defense.

I think I do agree with you about religious schools having the right to be more selective in what they allow to go on. While The VM did not offend or hurt me personally, religious schools should not have it on their campuses if it doesn't match with their vision of education.

I have learned a lot from these dialogues with you, Mary. Oh, and I especially liked your comment on the Real Beauty blog about having an appreciation for the talents, beauty, athleticism, etc. of others. We can enjoy the gifts that others possess without hurting our own self-esteem. Beauty included. I have been thinking a lot about this unique idea you expressed so eloquently and am moved by it.

Erin P

While I don't know the specifics of the case/dispute, I tend to agree with you, Eve that discussions about the content of Grease would be the way to go. Theatre is a wonderful outlet for teenagers - and can be a form of sublimation for all those teenage energies:).

Schools, students, and parents need to undertake these projects with responsibility though - not just to showcase students' talent, but also their dignity. I've often wondered, and I did a little acting in college, if I could play a role that stood at odds with my moral values. I think it's important for adolescents to try on roles, but also, with their parents' help, determine what's out of bounds for them. And I think parents have that right to assert what they feel may be out-of-bounds or at odds with a healthy school environment. For these parents, it sounds like a fear that life will imitate art. Better to discuss the differences with their children I think.

Good pts too, Mary.

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