Analysing ‘Grease’s The Hand Jive — A Disgusting Piece of Moral Depravity?
(Warning — Contains extraordinarily sexually explicit imagery)
So for a while I’ve been meaning to talk about the Hand Jive sequence in ‘Grease’, possibly one of the most sexually disgusting, gratuitously explicit scenes put to film. But to do so we need to go into detail so okay cats, throw your mittens around your kittens and away we go!
OPEN WITH — Everyone suddenly is bouncing about and “hand jiving” all over the place like they’re furiously jerking off a load of invisible ghosts.
CUT TO — A sexually predatory TV host strolls through the throng of dancing school-kids looking at them in a horrifyingly pervy way as he passes Kenickie who is miming grabbing Cha Cha’s bosoms before slapping her about, somehow simultaneously combining both sexual and domestic abuse into a film meant for children, as the host oozes on eyeing Sandy up and down with a look so seriously creepy Danny tells him to get lost. Who hired this guy and why is he trying to pork Marty?!
Doody bounces in along with Frenchy wearing a hideous plaid jacket and enthusiastically slapping his thighs and going a little bit bonkers before TV Pedo host tells him to cool it and receives an aggressively offensive gesture in return. TV Pedo host then leads Marty away to an uncertain sexual fate whilst, with the choreography not missing a beat, Sonny walks behind then swigging scotch from a bottle and giving him a “fuck you” glare.
CUT TO — PANNING SHOT of kids in the seats all HAND JIVING in unison like some sort of mass orgiastic cabal.
Leo jumps up in the air and lands on his dick as Rizzo flounces around him in bright red dress while he furiously dry-humps the floor.
CUT BACK TO — the hand jiving onlookers still demonically working their hands before CUTTING BACK TO — Leo running his hands ALL OVER Rizzo as she unashamedly jiggles her boobs about, working him up into such a state that TV Pedo host taps Leo on the shoulder only to be given THE FINGER (!) and told to go fuck himself whilst an innocent girl is carried off behind them to, again, an uncertain sexual fate.
Sexual tension has corrupted the very atmosphere of this horrific scene so much that VIOLENCE breaks out. “Break it up! Break it up!” — as Kenickie and Leo attempt to murder each other in a scene Scorsese would find a bit too strong for a kids film.
INTRIGUE! — Rizzo is deliberately side-lined allowing Cha Cha the dark-haired temptress, who really looks WAY too old to be attending a school dance, to take her place, flashing her knickers with wanton abandon as she does so,
Kenickie and Cha Cha pair up, Cha Cha once again spreading her legs as wide as she can showing him her… well, I don’t really want to say what he’s looking at at this point (P.S. it’s her fanny, and not the American kind).
EVERYONE rushes onto the dance floor as CAMERAS furiously PUSH IN, their leering, mechanical gaze capturing the debauchery, thus confirming the television industry’s complicit role as a festering breeding ground for sexual anarchy.
MONTAGE OF — hand-pumping, face-sitting, a girl is dragged along the floor like a cave-woman to, once again, an uncertain sexual fate as another woman grinds her lady parts against a guys leg.
Rizzo WALKS OFF in disgust, and rightly so! You get outta there Riz!
CUT TO — a woman doing a somersaulting flip in a dress allowing everyone to see her underskirts and delivering the biggest shit-eating grin in the history of cinema only for Kenickie to come running on and lift up her dress so EVERYONE can see her pants as the band keeps playing and everyone ignores the fact that sexual assault as just occurred.
She RUNS OFF crying (??!!) as an un-repentant Kenickie drops to the floor and starts hand-jiving all over himself.
Poor Blanche comes onto the floor to make him stop (a lone voice of sanity in this horrific nightmare) only for her to be carried off and having HER knickers shown to the world! “How low can you go?” Well, obviously not as low as you can go you morally bankrupt piece of depraved film-making.
CUT TO — Danny and Sandy manage to bring some semblance of structure to this MADNESS as they come dancing in from stage right, Travolta wearing possibly the greatest suit ever, all black but with a pink shirt, handkerchief and socks, the black emphasising the sexual implications of the flashes of pink he exhibits.
They dance perfectly in unison, bringing an air of welcome innocence to this bacchanalia.
CUT TO — Cha Cha is moving like a shark through the crowd as the saxophonist has an orgasm. Something is going to happen.
And it DOES! Sandy is carried off by Sonny allowing for Cha Cha to, just as with Rizzo, move in and replace Sandy!
Danny makes a relatively decent attempt to bring Sandy back but he is swayed by the greed of winning the dance-off demonstrating just how shallow he is and in desperate need of further personal growth and, possibly, therapy.
Sandy WALKS OFF in disgust. Again, one of the few people here with any sort of moral code.
Danny puts Cha Cha down on the floor and starts er… tea-bagging her or, at the very least, trying to put his willy in her mouth?! Hey, you offer me an alternative to what these two are meant to be doing and I’ll happily retract that last statement.
Principal McGee looks away in shock and disgust (rightly so I hasten to add!) and wondering what to do. Try STOPPING THE DANCE lady! You’re in charge! Show some fucking responsibility for once. It now becomes blindingly apparent why America’s education system is in such a state.
Meanwhile a guy, whipped up into a STATE of sweating sexual frenzy, urges the spectacle on to further depths of unimaginable depravity, his animalistic visage showing he has lost all links to civilisation and has become nothing but an overly aroused BEAST as Danny goes all Homer Simpson on the floor showing that he has also completely lost his mind.
The CAMERAS again glide in to capture every sordid moment as, behind them, the band have even started to mount each other (how they can do this and play at the same time is a terrifying mystery).
Travolta slides on his knees across the floor, not a particularly difficult thing to do consider what it must be completely covered with by now, as the floor becomes more and more crowded with heaving bodies.
EVERYTHING is building — music, dancing, tension until Danny and Cha Cha are announced winners and Cha Cha grabs the trophy with a look of sickening greed in her eyes.
And then the icing on this particularly excessively cream-filled cake: in a fantastic moment of choreography and timing, the host jumps in by performing a somersaulting flip into the middle of shot and perfectly catches a microphone that is thrown at him from off-screen just at the precise moment that the song (and everybody on screen and watching) climaxes.
So that’s the Hand Jive and, as you can see, it is a disgusting piece of filth. However, it is also a masterpiece of visual story-telling at its best. All the information, character dynamics, the story beats and pay-offs it manages to cram into five minutes are incredible. Not only that but the way someone does something only for the baton of attention to be flawlessly passed onto someone else who then slips it onto another person in terms of who we should be concentrating on. It is fantastically well done and all this is happening at breakneck speed.
Oh and if you think I’ve been too explicit with all the above, I’m not. I actually had to tone it down because it’s all up there, and more, on the screen. This IS the sanitised version! Watch the entire sequence and you’ll see it’s FAR worse than what I’ve described.
But it is a spectacular sequence and is one of the best pieces of visual story-telling out there.
Think of it this way — it has to split up both Rizzo from Kenickie and Sandy from Danny, along with various other character developments, have a dance-off and the TWO betrayals , deconstruct the American media and education system and all with zero dialogue. When you consider everything that’s going on in the Hand Jive, and how well it is executed, it’s a really remarkable piece of cinema… even if it is filthy as fuck.