Olivia Newton-John has furiously hit back at claims that Grease was sexist after Sandy underwent a raunchy makeover to win Danny’s heart.
Speaking about the backlash in an interview with The Guardian, the actress, 72, reminded fans that there was ‘nothing deep to her character’ in the classic 1977 film, and she was little more than ‘a girl who was in love with a guy.’
Olivia famously starred opposite John Travolta as two 1950s teens who are reunited as seniors in high school following a summer fling, who attempt to rekindle their romance despite being from vastly different cliques.
Ridiculous: Olivia Newton-John, 72, has hit back at claims that Grease was sexist after her character Sandy underwent a raunchy makeover (pictured in August 2019)
After arriving at Danny’s school as a prim and proper girl, Sandy undergoes an incredible makeover by the film’s end to cement her and Danny’s romance, donning a skintight black catsuit and leather jacket.
Sandy opted to change despite Danny insisting he’d ditch his biker persona and become a jock to be with her, and many fans have insisted it’s sexist that she was the one who had to change.
But Olivia hit back at these claims, saying: ‘It’s a movie. It’s a story from the 50s where things were different.
New look: In the 1977 film her character ditched her prim and plain style (left) for a sexy new look (right) to win Danny Zuko’s heart
Young love: Olivia, who starred in the film opposite John Travolta (pictured) insisted there’s ‘nothing deep’ to her character, and she’s just ‘a girl who loves a guy’
‘Everyone forgets that, at the end, he changes for her, too. There’s nothing deep in there about the #MeToo movement.
‘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.’
For years it’s been claimed that Grease promotes a sexist representation of women in the wake of the #MeToo movement, particularly as the male characters seem more focused on the sexual aspects of their relationships.
Among those moments under scrutiny was the controversial lyric ‘Did she put up a fight?’ from the song Summer Nights, which some have claimed could be a reference to sexual abuse or rape.
Many have also noted that Sandy feels the need to change her image from the so-called ‘girl-next-door’ as it’s implied she’d never have stayed with Danny if she’d kept her look and demeanour the same.
Challenging: In recent years Olivia has been battling breast cancer, and due to her ongoing health battle has been in self-isolation at her country estate in the US (pictured October 2019)
While Danny briefly tries to change his look, telling his pals: ‘I’m gonna do anything I can to get her,’ his appearance and ideals remain predominantly the same by the film’s end.
However some have defended the film as a feminist piece, with Dr Barbara Jane Brickman explaining this argument in her book Grease: Gender, Nostalgia and Youth Consumption in the Blockbuster Era.
She said: ‘Coming towards the end of the swinging 1970s but supposedly lacking any condemnation of the 1950s era, Grease was criticised for being a reactionary piece of (white) male fantasy, one longing for a time when boys could be boys, women knew their place, and there was no racial conflict (or diversity, for that matter).
‘The film is, through much of its action, a girl’s film – exploring girls’ ”bedroom culture” and fandom, wrestling with and critiquing that sexual double standard impinging itself on Rizzo and Sandy, and focusing on female teen friendships, more so, one might argue, than many, many teen films then or since.’
In recent years Olivia has been battling breast cancer, and due to her ongoing health battle has been in self-isolation at her country estate in the US during the coronavirus pandemic.
Speaking on Channel Nine’s Today Show in Australia earlier this month, she said: ‘I feel great and I’m so grateful I’m able to be in the countryside.
‘I feel so much for people stuck in cities or apartments, or alone. I know you’ve been going through a hard time in Australia.’
‘I have my animals and my husband. This has actually been one of the rare times in my whole life where I have been in one place for more than three weeks.’
She confessed that she sometimes ‘feels guilty’ about how much she’s enjoying spending time at home.
Health update: Speaking on Channel Nine’s Today Show in Australia earlier this month, she said: ‘I feel great and I’m so grateful I’m able to be in the countryside’
Olivia also said that her cancer diagnosis means she has to be extra vigilant during the COVID-19 crisis.
‘I’m in that bracket with an underlying condition and have to be careful… everybody is going through dreadful times and having to worry about their immune systems but people with cancer have had this concern always,’ she said.
In January, the Australian icon gave her fans a health update and revealed that her tumours had shrunk in size.
She told The Sunday Telegraph that using medicinal cannabis and natural remedies in addition to conventional medicine had improved her health.
Olivia, who was diagnosed with cancer in 2017 and twice before in 1992 and 2013, has spent years lobbying the Australian government to approve the use of medicinal cannabis for cancer patients.
Fight: Olivia was diagnosed with cancer in 2017 and twice before in 1992 and 2013, and has been lobbying the Australian government to approve medicinal cannabis for cancer patients