Monday, November 28, 2011

Dammit, Janet

A friend and I went to see the stage performance of The Rocky Horror Show at Club Oberon on Friday Night and it left me with a lot of questions. Like am I still a Rocky virgin since there was no "picture" involved? Is it bizarre to see The Muppets and Rocky Horror in one six-hour period? Why is it so difficult for media to exist in the world?

Wait, back up, you say. Muppets? You saw it?

Yes I did, and that's a whole 'nother awesome post. But not to be included in the post about disability and sexuality in Rocky Horror. Although The Muppets Rocky Horror would be FAWESOME in an Avenue Q way

Anywhodaha, while watching Rocky Horror, I started wondering about the true message of the show. Again, my first time, but I wondered what it said that the characters are punished for becoming sexualized. Dr. Frank N. Furter the "sweet transvestite" is a diabolical asshole, but also sympathized in a Long John Silver type way (promise I'm not just thinking Tim Curry). But SPOILER he doesn't make it to the end.

Brad and Janet, whose sexual awakenings are the main plot of the show, end up broken up, potentially freed but also potentially being punished for becoming sexual. And the alternate-villain Dr. Everett Scott--the one who is arguably anti-sexual--is in a wheelchair.

I assume the show purposefully uses these tropes to make a point about the way society sees things. But even now, and especially in the 70s or the 50s (the time the show Time Warps to), I don't think we were/are free enough for them that the opposing message isn't also affirmed. Sexuality is at once celebrated and punished, but no alternative to the anti-sexual, broken nature of disability is given unless we get meta-(In the original the actor who played Scott also played Eddie so did not spend the entire show in a chair).

I'm not criticizing the show, or even attempting to find an answer. I'm sure more aware people than I am have already done so. Thinking about this just made me aware that media in the world is inherently problematic. It's coated with biases, intentionally and unintentionally, and will always cause controversy and question. That's not a bad thing. In fact it's necessary.

So everyone who puts media out there can relax a bit. What you do will offend people. It's part of the game.