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Can I get help starting my thesis genre essay on Dirty Dancing, Grease, and Footloose?


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Three iconic high school dance movies helped shape popular culture from the late 1970s to the late 1980s: Dirty Dancing, Grease, and Footloose.  While the movies all focused on high school aged teens, they also had other similarities that are worth exploring.  They all feature relationships with a boy from the “wrong side of the tracks” in some way.  This is reminiscent of West Side Story, the original teen dance epic.  Of course, West Side Story derives its story from Romeo and Juliet.  Your thesis could focus on those similarities or you could highlight themes that are common to the several works.

Some of the themes to explore include:

  1. Teenage sexual awakening and the idea that the older or more experienced “bad boy” plays a role in the sexual awakening of an innocent girl.  Exploring this theme, it is important to look at how Footloose challenges those conventions, since the female protagonist in Footloose is sexually active before meeting the male protagonist.
  2. The idea of star-crossed lovers.  What does it mean to be star crossed?  Do the lovers in these movies meet those qualifications?
  3. How friend groups can influence teenage relationships.
  4. The transformations that women undergo in these movies in order to keep their new male romantic partners. 
  5. How dance is related to sexual activity and the fact that the dance movies have some discussion of pregnancy.
  6. The social issues referenced in the movie, such as access to abortion in Dirty Dancing, conservative religious rules in Footloose, and rigid gender norms in Grease.
  7. The different roles that parents play in the three movies, most notably the complete absence of parents in Grease compared to the overarching presence of parents in Footloose and the helpful presence of the father in Dirty Dancing.

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