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GTGC #262 Hairspray (1988)


Your favorite film analysis podcast moves along slightly in the '80s as the Musical Revue continues with a look at Hairspray (1988). John Waters' cult classic is unabashedly campy and bizarre, but does it hold up to the test of time?

As we continue along this musical journey, Hairspray is a bit of an odd departure. The original 1988 film is less a musical and more of a dance film. There are still musical numbers, but they're filled with dance, rather than singing. So, it's a bit off the rails in that regard. But, we still had a good conversation around it.

Brushing Out Hairspray

John Waters moved away from his transgressive roots with Hairspray. Several of his key players still show up, including Divine as Edna Turnblad, Tracy's mother. But, by and large, Hairspray is a much more accessible film, in comparison to his earlier works. Set in the 60s, Tracy loves watching the Corny Collins Show, which is one of those classic shows where a bunch of pretty teens dance for an hour. Tracy is enamored. Tracy, defined in the film as pleasantly plump, doesn't adhere to societies norms or values, and reaches out to take what she believes is hers—with great success. The film includes a plot thread involving segregation, but as we discuss in the show, it's much more than simply, black and white.

On this week's episode, we discuss Cult Directors We Want to Make a Musical. After our standard gameplay and quick reviews, we partner up with Hairspray and hit the dance floor. We talk race, queer film, form and function as we try to dig deep in to the film.


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