Picture the scene: Hamburg, Germany, a few years ago, on a stag do, in a busy bar, of course, with around 20 middle-aged men. I only know the stag and one or two others, for most of the stag party went to school with the stag, but I did not. It’s around midnight. Alcohol may have been consumed.
The dance music ceases, to be replaced by this unmistakable duet, by Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes:
“Now I’ve had the time of my lifeNo, I never felt like this before Yes I swear, it’s the truth And I owe it all to you ‘Cause I’ve had the time of my life And I owe it all to you”
We all know this song: Dirty Dancing, 1987.
As was routine for these school friends, the shortest member of the stag do ran to one end of the bar. Then, the biggest chap – probably a rugby player – made his way onto the dancefloor. At the song’s crescendo, the short one cleared a space in the bar and then ran, full throttle, to his rugby-playing mate, who thrust him up into the air, spinning him around, expertly recreating the key scene in Dirty Dancing when the 30-something dance instructor, Patrick Swayze, spins around his new lover, Jennifer Gray, playing a 16 or 17-year old girl “Baby” of the “Nobody puts Baby in the corner” fame. Perhaps it was the funniest thing I have ever seen.
Rewinding somewhat, only a few months before had I watched Dirty Dancing for the first time, otherwise I wouldn’t have understood what was – hilariously – going on in the bar. I refused to watch this supposed cult classic before, because I was always put-off that it was a romance film and, let’s face it, it’s regarded as a “chick flick”.
What struck me then, and puzzles me still, is just how creepy the film is. I remain staggered that for tens of millions of people – primarily women, I have to say – this is the pinnacle of the romance genre. However, the age gap and the power imbalance between the two protagonists is significant. I just don’t get it. Yuck.
Fast forward to today, the news is awash with tales about self-confessed sex addict, Russell Brand, and his sexual exploits from many years ago. I have no time for celebrity, nor for Brand, and I have not read all the alleged sordid details. But if we can park, for a minute, the allegations of criminality against Brand and focus on what seems to have provoked the greatest public opprobrium – his relationship with a 16-year-old girl – though I share the disgust, I am left befuddled that, I bet, millions of Brand’s critics enjoy Dirty Dancing. The hypocrisy is breathtaking.
(Image courtesy of Stable Diffusion, with the prompt “russell brand being spun around by patrick swayze in a bar”).