The Time of My Life: Dirty Dancing

ECW. (Pop Classics). Apr. 2024. 128p. ISBN 9781770417410. pap. $15.95. FILM
Music journalist Warner (Buffy Sainte-Marie: The Authorized Biography) adds her entry to ECW’s “Pop Classics” series, which critically assesses why pop culture phenomena (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Twin Peaks, and more) matter. She passionately extols the legacy of the 1987 movie Dirty Dancing, starring Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swayze, and examines the way it explored themes of feminism, activism, and reproductive rights. Inspired by the adolescence of screenwriter Eleanor Bergstein and set in 1963, Dirty Dancing tells the coming-of-age story of idealistic, middle-class teenager Frances “Baby” Houseman, who falls in love with one of the Catskill resort’s dance instructors, Johnny Castle. When Johnny’s dance partner, Penny, needs an illegal abortion, Baby defies her physician father’s expectations by asking him for money to pay for it and for medical assistance for Penny after the procedure is botched. Warner says Baby was the hero she needed, and she describes how the movie shaped her own self-identity, her desire to change the world, and her feminism, especially urgent after Roe v. Wade was overturned in 2022.
VERDICT Film studies and Dirty Dancing fans will find this monograph useful.
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