by Erika Bromley
I wanted to write about one of my all-time favorite movies for #FThisMovieFest’s #1988Week last month, but I shockingly (wink) ran out of time that week. And in all of the weeks. But it is never too late to talk about any kind of movie love from any era (era), right? And it just so happens that one of my all-time most important and favorite films was directed by the birthday boy himself, John Waters. It seems like everyone I know IPL (“In-person life” - Is this a thing?) and through social media has a piece of art that “changed” their life. I often see viral tweets about “the horror movie that changed my life” or “the music that changed my life,” and I have a hard time connecting with those declarations. I think this is because I’ve always liked too much - so I can attach music, movies, books, etc. to various specific events or times in my life, but I can never choose one as the ONE that “changed” it. Upon reflection, maybe my issue is that I am just forever needlessly indecisive and refuse to choose one of anything to be labeled as “favorite” (I guess I have a favorite husband but so far he’s the only one to hold the title!).
There are myriad reasons to watch Hairspray. Here’s a simple list that will hopefully inspire you to discover one of my all-time favorites or convince you that you are due for a rewatch! Either way, I’d love to hear your thoughts after you watch.
2. The music. Ruth Brown and Toussaint McCall both appear in the film and introduced me to music I hadn’t discovered yet (my parents played a lot of older albums, many being R&B, but I was not familiar with these two).
3. The dancing! Waters brings back plenty of early '60s dances you may have heard of and a few that time forgot. But you’ll never, ever forget “The Roach” after seeing this film.
4. The entire aesthetic. Bubble-gum pink has never been my color, and I’m not really drawn to pastels. This movie seems to be mostly designed out of a '60s pop-watercolor vision, and it works so perfectly. (It does not surprise me today, however, that even as a kid, I was drawn to the Beatnik scene with Ric Ocasek painting and reciting poetry while Pia Zadora wore all black and talked about ironing her hair. That scene’s look is still my ‘aesthetic’ today.)
5. The lessons! Be true to yourself. Accept everyone. Love yourself, and love everyone. Don’t be afraid to dance. Fight for what is right. Don’t be a jerk. Don’t be racist. Don’t live in fear but rather open yourself up to new experiences, friendships, and love. There’s always room for one more on the dance floor, and anywhere in life. Segregation never, integration NOW.
Hairspray entertained me, taught me, and inspired me - even as a young kid. I'm forever grateful to my mom for introducing it to me! (Thanks, Ma!) I hope anyone reading will check it out if you have not seen it.