I Watched ‘The Rocky Horror Picture Show’ for the First Time and I Have a Lot of Thoughts

Copyright+20th+Century+Fox

Copyright 20th Century Fox

Meleah York, Assistant Editor

***WARNING: MAJOR SPOILERS***

When I was in eighth grade, I, like every other middle schooler, was deep into my American duty of binge-watching Glee on Netflix when I stumbled upon Episode 5 of Season 2. This was when I first discovered the existence of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. The episode centered around an adapted play version of the movie and tackled body image issues as well as added to a subplot romance of two of the teachers, but what I remember most was the student hype around the character of Dr. Frank-N-Furter.

A sassy and promiscuous drag queen, Frank-N-Furter is definitely the appeal of Rocky Horror, which was obvious as I watched Tim Curry strut around the ballroom hall or laboratory, feminine clothes wound tightly around his thin figure. Alright, alright, I’ll be honest. I watched the FOX Live version first, with Laverne Cox as the crude drag scientist. Give me a break, it was the only one I could find in the depths of the internet that the school wifi didn’t block.

Both portrayals of the character were different, but Tim Curry’s interpretation was definitely impressive. He made Dr. Frank-N-Furter look enticing as hell with the low-quality drag makeup. How? Don’t ask me. The attractiveness threw me off because you’d notice the bland drag, yet his whole persona was addictive.

I couldn’t follow the plot. I don’t think there really was one. It was all over the place and hard to keep track of. First, it starts with a couple named Janet and Brad deciding to get married after not even dating. By the way, how does Brad even get the chalk to draw a heart on the church door? That appeared out of nowhere. Also, who upstages their friend’s wedding to ask a random girl to marry you? The beginning starts off kind of fairy-tale like, and I wondered if I’d have to waste the next hour and a half of class watching this crap.

Nope.

The movie turns from “la la la, basic heterosexuals getting married,” to hey, here’s a drag queen, and a ripped gay Frankenstein, also a ton of innuendoes that make you really question if people in the filmmaking business during the seventies really even edited rough drafts of the script.

Here’s what I could get as the main plot, though: Brad and Janet are trying to get to their old high school teacher’s house to tell him they’re getting married, but their car breaks down. They find this castle for help and they meet a creepy butler and stumble into a ballroom full of people dressed in what seems like mismatched ballroom clothes; you can’t really tell their gender. Enter somehow a very attractive drag queen. Dr. Frank-N-Furter and the ballroom people are aliens from the planet Transexual Trannsylvania (yes, this is the actual planet), and I think the followers of Frank-N-Furter symbolize the fluidity of gender and sexuality. Frank-N-Furter is the poster child for that, though. He (She?) creates a gay humanoid thing named Rocky, and his only articles of clothing are these golden speedos. It is eventually revealed that Frank-N-Furter and the other aliens were not supposed to be on earth as long as they were, so the drag queen scientist and Rocky are killed by the previously mentioned creepy butler.

Throughout the movie, Brad and Janet are introduced to…certain experiences…showing resistance at first but in the end submitting themselves to pleasure, which I think is an important recurring theme of this movie. Yes, it’s a raunchy movie your parents probably don’t want you seeing yet, but the message of not restricting yourself in self-expression, identity, or experience rings clearly.

When Rocky Horror first came out in 1975, it provided relief amongst those who were socially or sexually marginalized, a safe space where they could be visible. Screenings of Rocky Horror involve traditions such as acting out the movie while it plays and a bag of items used as audience props. This movie meant something to people and provided a safe haven for those who were different from what was socially perceived as normal. Nowadays, tourists or university students dominate the screenings, but Rocky Horror still provides opening minds to individuality and fluidity.

I think that one of the most profound songs of the whole film is “Rose Tint My World,” where Brad, Rocky, Janet, and Frank-N-Furter reflect on who they used to be, what they longed for, and how their world has been opened. Our sassy drag queen opens up about her longing for femininity and how she eventually let go of that longing to express herself on the outside the way she felt on the inside. Whether it’s for entertainment, a safe space, or affirming representation, Rocky Horror provides a resounding message that is relevant for anyone undergoing doubt in their own self-expression or identity that might not necessarily match up with societal norms.

“Don’t dream it, be it.”