Olivia Newton-John doesn’t think Grease is homophobic, rapey or racist

Olivia Newton-John

Olivia Newton-John has insisted that criticism of the musical Grease as “racist, rapey and homophobic” is “silly”.

Newton-John starred as Sandy in the 1978 film, set in the 1950s, opposite John Travolta. At the time of its release it became the highest-grossing musical film ever made and it has remained popular ever since.

But when Grease aired on British TV over the recent festive period, some took to social media to say it should never be shown again. 

In particular, viewers picked up on the character of radio announcer Vince Fontaine declaring in the dance-off scene that no same-sex couples were allowed to take part. Many also slammed the film’s sexism and misogyny, particularly in the characters’ slut-shaming attitudes towards Rizzo.

Lyrics such as “Did she put up a fight?” in the song “Summer Nights” as well as various scenes seriously lacking in consent have been described as “rapey”, while the film’s almost entirely white casting has also been criticised.

Responding to the criticism on the A Life of Greatness podcast, Newton-John, who is a long-time supporter of equal marriage rights for LGBT+ people, said: “I think it’s kind of silly. I mean, this movie was made in the 1970s about the 1950s.”

She added: “It was a stage play, it’s a musical, it’s fun.

“It’s a fun movie musical not to be taken so seriously… We need to relax a little bit and just enjoy things for what they are.

“I didn’t see it like that at all, I think it’s a fun movie that entertains people.”

Olivia Newton-John recently launched a new charity, the ONJ Foundation, to research cancer treatments with a focus on plant medicine.

Newton-John currently has stage four breast cancer. She was first diagnosed with the disease in 1992, and again in 2013. In 2017 she received the news that her cancer had recurred and had spread to her bones.