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Hairspray by John Waters (DVD)

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People who follow the status quo are never those that change the world. It’s the independent folks who know who they are and how they want the world to be that make it better place for everyone. The King of Trash cinema, John Waters, provides us with a way to show tweens that, not only is it okay to be different, in fact, it’s what improves the world.

In Hairspray the pretty, popular girls feel entitled to be stars. When Tracy, a girl who describes herself as “pleasantly plump” becomes a regular on Baltimore’s Corny Collins dance show, the followers of the status quo grow enraged and try to retaliate. For the crime of wearing her hair in a beautiful, feathered, blond and brown layered bouffant, Tracy’s principal sends her to special ed for being a “hairdo scofflaw.” Kids spread rumors about her. But Tracy never lets any of this get her down. On the contrary, she counters people’s prejudice and helps integrate the dance show, all while working to become Miss Auto Show 1963.

Classic early 60’s dance songs play throughout the movie, and you rarely go for more than five minutes without seeing the Gravy, the Mashed Potato, the Twist, and some perfectly choreographed line dancing. Waters staple Divine plays a mom who is always ironing and who gets irritable when her diet pill wears off, while Debbie Harry and Sonny Bono play the popular girl’s parents. But this campy cult classic isn’t just about the dresses and hair and dance moves of the early sixties, though those alone are worth watching the movie for. It’s about size acceptance and integration.

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