The Frida’s August Volunteer of the Month movie is Hairspray, chosen by Daniela Anguiano! This 1988 cult classic from provocateur John Waters is certainly the director’s most mainstream film, but still has plenty of edge and unforgettable dialogue. Here’s what our volunteer of the month says about her pick:
“John Waters’ quotes are ridiculously over the top and constantly referenced amongst my family. Any quote that includes any mention of roaches are my absolute favorite. This includes Amber’s endless “That girl’s got roaches in her hair” or “Tracy Turnblad is a human roach nest” throughout the film. Another favorite line is when Penny and Edna are watching Tracy’s debut on the Corny Collins Show and Penny yells to the TV “Hi Tracy! It’s me, Penny!” Edna just looks at Penny and tells her “She can’t hear you!?” It’s absurd but makes me laugh every time.
I’m glad I grew up watching Hairspray. I feel like it made me who I am today! Tracy is a chubby hair hopper on the poorer side of town, supporting integration. She’s essentially the underdog and the cards are against her. Despite this, she shows nothing but support and has fun dancing, which leads to her winning the auto show and dating hot guy Link!
The soundtrack and dance scenes also gave me a reason to revisit the film and become obsessed with the charming and fun Hairspray. As a child, I watched the film so many times I memorized the dance sequences! Sadly, I’ve forgotten the dances over the years but I still have the memory of rewinding the VHS to learn the Madison Time with my older sisters.”
More About Hairspray
Featuring accurate recreations of dances from the ’60s, Hairspray mines the era’s aesthetic and culture for campy humor while also telling a heartfelt and winning tale of a teenager who succeeds against all odds through her force of personality. And although not as openly provocative as some of John Waters’ other works, the movie’s portrayal of teenage life and racial segregation is still quietly radical. While moments like Tracy being placed in special education for her hairstyle are played for laughs, they also capture the unique cruelty of what it feels like to be a teenager rebelling against ridiculous adult rules. The dark moments also shade the triumphant notes of the movie with an unbearable excitement, and these emotional ups and downs still ring true for viewers watching the movie long after its release. In the world of Hairspray, both racial segregation and local dance competitions become equally urgent missions for its characters, while also being blatantly satirized for the viewer. But no problem is too big to be overcome by the winning Tracy Turnblad, who prevails through the irrepressible pleasure of music and dance. For both young and old, those looking for nostalgia or something new, Hairspray has plenty of joy to give.