Hairspray: A Forgotten Gem You NEED to Watch

I am an avid Hairspray lover, and I talk about it all the time. I watch the movie at least once a month and enjoy every second of it. Yes, this is the Hairspray starring Zac Efron, John Travolta, Michelle Pfiefer, Nicki Blonsky, Christopher Walken, James Marsden, Queen Latifah, and many more. Although the cast is great and the songs are groovy, the real reason I enjoy this movie so much is because it’s important! Allow me to explain.

            This movie fills me with immense joy because of the positivity that it radiates in a musical format, which puts me in a good mood. Hairspray is so much more than a feel-good movie, though – it deals with a bunch of issues that are still relevant today, even though it is set in the 1960s. For example, the leading lady, Tracey Turnblad, is plus-sized, which is something that is not frequently represented in media. Usually, if there is a plus-sized character in a movie or musical, they are a stock character, usually used for comedic relief, but Tracey is front and center. John Travolta portrays Tracey’s mom, Edna, who is also plus sized. However, Edna deals with self-confidence issues, taking diet pills and not leaving the house since she gained weight, and Tracey is promoting self-love and acceptance. This is important because not everyone, not even most people, are a size 2, and body positivity is something people still deal with all the time, which is one reason this movie is one of my essentials.

Another reason I love this movie is because it shuts down racism and promotes love of who people actually are, not their skin color. Two important people in the movie, Penny and Seaweed, are in an interracial relationship and are proud to be together, even in the midst of a world that is not accepting of that. I can relate to this aspect of the movie a little more than some, as I’ve been in a similar situation 40 years after the play is set, making that aspect relevant, too.

Hairspray also openly portrays people who are racist and resist the change that the 1960s brought, showing generational conflict that a lot of people are familiar with in some way. The people like Michelle Pfeifer’s character are stuck in the mindset of the 1950s, where everyone needed to be a size 2 and things were to be done the “white way” (that’s actually a quote of hers in the movie). The other characters in the film resist this and fight for integration to bring about a world that is more accepting of everyone for who they are inside, not their outward appearance, and this acceptance ultimately wins.

I want to give a special shout out to Corny Collins, who is portrayed by James Marsden, because I think he is one of the best characters in the movie. Corny Collins consistently opposes the old way of thinking and accepts change and integration whole-heartedly. He is an advocate for Tracey to get on the show and makes the announcement of his show being officially integrated after Inez, an African American dancer, wins the Miss Teenage Hairspray Pageant and becomes the lead dancer on the show. He is someone that is expected to share the same sentiments about race and weight that everyone else in his age group seems to, but he thinks ahead and fights for the future, which is something the older viewers who may identify with the older characters in the movie can learn from.

This always gives me hope for the future; although these issues are still relevant today, they are not as bad as they used to be. There has been more progress than not since the 1960s and some of those issues seem extreme to us now, which means that they may be completely gone in another 40 years. This movie is still popular because it deals with issues that haven’t completely dissipated yet. Even though it’s fun to watch, Hairspray is IMPORTANT! WATCH IT!