Is Grease sexist?: Olivia Newton-John joins in heated debate around classic musical

Adam White
·1 min read
Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta in ‘Grease' (Paramount/Rso/Kobal/REX)
Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta in ‘Grease' (Paramount/Rso/Kobal/REX)

Olivia Newton-John has denied that Grease is sexist, while arguing that there is “nothing deep in there about the #MeToo movement”.

The 1978 musical saw Newton-John’s Sandy transform herself from a plainly-dressed virgin to a leather-clad bad-girl, finally capturing the full attention of cool greaser Danny (John Travolta).

While Sandy unveiling her new look remains one of the most famous moments in 20th century musicals, it has also been accused of misogyny, or at least a scene that implies she needed to change her image and personality in order to be appealing.

Newton-John has now dismissed the criticism.

“It’s a movie,” Newton-John told The Guardian. “It’s a story from the Fifties where things were different. Everyone forgets that, at the end, he changes for her, too. There’s nothing deep in there about the #MeToo movement.”

She continued: “It’s just a girl who loves a guy, and she thinks if she does that, he’ll like her. And he thinks if he does that, she’ll like him. I think that’s pretty real. People do that for each other. It was a fun love story."

The Australian singer and actor also revealed that her own musical transformation in the wake of Grease, which included the suggestive video for single “Let’s Get Physical”, was deliberately short-lived.

“I’ve tended to be a good girl,” she explained. “I probably would have gotten into trouble with my dad had I been any different.”

Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta in ‘Grease'Paramount/Rso/Kobal/REX
Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta in ‘Grease'Paramount/Rso/Kobal/REX

Newton-John and Travolta remained good friends after the making of Grease, reuniting for the 1983 fantasy film Two of a Kind.

In 2012, they collaborated on a Christmas album titled This Christmas.

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