Location: Bartos Screening Room
Dir. John Waters. 1988, 92 mins. 35mm. With Ricki Lake, Divine, Debbie Harris, Jerry Stiller. It is 1962 in Baltimore and Tracy Turnblad, a self-proclaimed “pleasantly plump” teenager hungry for stardom competes for a spot in The Corny Collins Show, the most popular American Bandstand-type program watched by hundreds of young dreamers each day after school. Being chosen to dance on the show is the ultimate status symbol and every young girl’s dream. Tracy improbably wins a featured spot when she infiltrates a dance contest and makes a better impression than her favored rival, the catty Amber von Tussle. The momentum does not stop there, as Tracy attempts to integrate black dancers and audiences into the show’s daily content, outside of their “blacks only” once-weekly theme night. Waters uses camp, comedy, and music to comment on the dangerous racial disparities present and active within and outside the national craze for variety TV shows. Recommended for ages 8+
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