suntimes
SWEET 
Weather Updates

‘Dirty Dancing’ remake will let young girls down


If only they had stuck just dancing: Jennifer Grey Patrick Swayze 1987 cult classic “Dirty Dancing.”

If only they had stuck to just dancing: Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swayze in the 1987 cult classic, “Dirty Dancing.”

storyidforme: 16878312
tmspicid: 6109796
fileheaderid: 2851856

Updated: November 3, 2011 9:50AM



Oh no, not again.

That was my reaction when I heard recently that the movie “Dirty Dancing” is going to be back in circulation again. Jeez, can this film and its incarnations just be put on a shelf and forgotten? Apparently not. Bollywood made a version called “Holiday.” Then there was the big stage adaptation. At the 20th anniversary it was re-released to much fanfare. A limited keepsake DVD edition came out in 2010. Oh wait, I almost forgot that late-’90s TV show based on the film.

Now, a remake of the 1987 blockbuster has been announced by Lions­gate. Kenny Ortega, choreographer of the original, will direct. No word yet on who will reprise the lead roles portrayed by the late Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. The original was produced for $6 million and has made upwards of $214 million.

Don’t confuse me with one of those fans who’ve been online dissing the remake news because they think no one can re-create the chemistry Swayze and Grey had. Actually, I wish I could like the film more; the music’s great, Grey is sweet and Swayze was an incredible dancer.

No, my gripe with the original “Dirty Dancing” is that within the film is a great teachable moment on what can happen when you have unprotected sex — negated by the disappointing turn that followed.

To refresh your memory, “Dirty Dancing” is about an intelligent young woman, Frances “Baby” Houseman (Grey), who comes to vacation with family at a resort before starting college. It’s the summer of 1963, when the rumble of change is on the horizon. Baby’s drawn to the working-class crew’s after-hours dancing and the resort’s dance instructor (Swayze). Swayze’s also working in a dance act at night, and when his regular partner Penny (Cynthia Rhodes) is sidelined because of a back-room abortion, Baby secretly starts practicing to takes her place.

So far, so good. The scene with Penny alone — where’s that amorous boy now that the going got tough? — scared and obviously in pain after the botched procedure is a good re­minder where unprotected sex can lead.

Then the movie blows it big-time. Minutes later, Baby professes her love for Johnny and what does she do? Falls right into bed with him. No! This sensible, bright young woman who has just seen another go through an abortion forgets about responsible sex? Come on.

This scene could totally have been written another way. Instead, over and over worldwide — this was the first home video to sell 1 million copies — impressionable young girls have watched and swooned over the first time for Baby and Johnny Castle.

I know, people will say I expect too much from Hollywood and it’s “just a movie.” No, it’s more than that. With sex education in our country so wanting, young people often get their only instruction on romance and love from movies, TV and music. In Bristol Palin’s memoir Not Afraid of Life, she talks candidly of the night she lost her virginity and describes the fairy-tale scene she — like many others — expected: “In movies, losing your virginity is a big deal . . . a candlelit experience with romantic music, roses, and declarations of true love.”

Palin goes on to admit that thanks to alcohol, she barely knew what had happened. Sadly, many, like Palin, are unprepared for the very real consequences.

So, excuse me if I’m not jumping for joy at the news of a remake. I just know once again it’s going to give the wrong idea about sex and responsibility to another generation.



© 2014 Sun-Times Media, LLC. All rights reserved. This material may not be copied or distributed without permission. For more information about reprints and permissions, visit www.suntimesreprints.com. To order a reprint of this article, click here.