Story at a glance

  • Two Australian private schools have halted their planned joint-production of the musical “Grease” after students protested against it, calling the show sexist and anti-feminist.
  • Some parents have complained about the schools’ decision and said only a small minority found it offensive.
  • Actress Olivia Newton-John, who stars in the movie “Grease,” said last year that there’s nothing sexist about the film and “it’s just a movie” that shouldn’t be taken too seriously.

Two private schools in Australia have pulled the musical “Grease” from their theater departments’ repertoires after students said the show was sexist and offensive to women.

Students at two K-12 schools in Perth, Presbyterian Ladies’ College and Scotch College, reportedly protested against the schools’ planned joint-production of “Grease,” claiming the musical was “offensive, sexist and anti-feminist,” the local newspaper the West Australian reported. The students also called on the schools to ban future productions of the show.

“A number of PLC students raised concerns whether the musical was appropriate in modern times,” Presbyterian Ladies’ College Principal Cate Begbie and acting Scotch College Headmaster Peter Burt said in a joint statement. “Scotch College listened respectfully to the girls’ concerns and both schools agreed a different musical would be better suited for their joint production in 2022.”

The schools have not announced which show will replace “Grease.”


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Several parents have complained about the decision, according to the West Australian, and said not all students were given an opportunity to weigh in. They said the students that found the musical offensive made up a “small minority” of both student bodies.

But this isn’t the first time “Grease” has been accused of being anti-feminist, and viewers in recent years have said it promotes a questionable representation of women.

In the movie rendition, Sandy, played by Olivia Newton-John, wears skin-tight black clothes to win back Danny, played by John Travolta. Although Danny also changes his look for Sandy by putting on a letterman sweater, some say it's sexist because Sandy is the one who vastly changes her appearance.

Olivia Newton-John has dispelled those claims, and told the Guardian last year: “it’s a movie. It’s a story from the ‘50s where things were different.”

“Everyone forgets that, at the end, he changes for her too,” she added. ”There’s nothing deep in there about the #MeToo movement.”


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Published on Nov 17, 2021