Summer means a lot of different things to me. Hot days, sandals, beaches, watermelon – and Dirty Dancing.
Released in 1987, Dirty Dancing caused a sensation, becoming a huge hit, spawning two soundtrack albums, and unsuccessful series on CBS, and a worldwide concert tour It launched the careers of Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swayze from erstwhile supporting players into the mainstream and lead roles. Nowadays, it’s settled into an object of campy nostalgia for the many who wore out VHS tapes of it in their youth, and it’s become the sort of a summertime staple of networks like WE and Lifetime. Fondness for the movie continues – you can buy teeshirts for it, and watch its recently spawned (and too-late) sequel or the Broadway musical it inspired.
There’s something very amusing about a movie like Dirty Dancing ending up a fluffy nostalgia piece that’s considered an inconsequential romantic movie. Here’s the movie’s biggest secret: it’s a socially radical film that embraces feminism and sisterhood, makes a strong case for abortion rights and artistic freedom, and shows a woman’s first happy sexual affair to be consequence-free in the way of romantic heartbreak and the moral weight of STDs, cheating, and pregnancy.