Olivia Newton-John Responds to Accusations Over 'Grease' Being Problematic

A common occurrence as society gets more progressive is the close examination of classics from a bygone era. Sometimes this leads to rediscovering why something is historically beloved, like with Quibi's quarantine take on The Princess Bride. But other times, looking at classics with a modern lens leads to some uncomfortable revelations. One of the films that has drawn the most criticism is Grease, which features 30somethings as teenagers, slut-shaming, and a rather permissive attitude towards rape.

Definitely a product of a different time, Grease is still largely beloved despite being torn apart online. Olivia Newton-John was a guest on the podcast A Life of Greatness, and she explained that the movie was "not [meant] to be taken so seriously."

"I think in this particular instance, I think it's kind of silly because the movie was made in the '70s about the '50s," Newton-John said. "It was a stage play. It's a musical. It's fun. It's a fun movie musical and not to be taken so seriously."

"We need to relax a little bit and just enjoy things for what they are," Newton-John concluded. "I think it’s just a fun movie that entertains people. That’s all." Newton-John also spoke warmly of her relationship with co-star John Travolta, saying they were still "really great friends" and "always would be."

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It is possible to love something while still recognizing its flaws, and it's evident that the cultural impact of Grease is still happening to this day. Newton-John explained to Forbes that even after 40 years, people are still talking to her about the musical. "There are grandparents who saw the movie when it came out and then they showed it to their kids and their kids' kids," she said. "Even now, I get five-year-olds saying how much they love the movie."

"Oddly, about every eight or 10 years it seems that a new generation comes through and picks up that momentum," Newton-John said. "Maybe these kids see it on television or their parents have it, I don't know. I could probably write a book containing all the stories I hear about people saying when they saw it and what it has meant to them. I never get tired of that. It's really wonderful and I definitely feel very grateful for that experience." A Grease prequel series, Rise of the Pink Ladies, is coming to Paramount+, so a new generation of fans is sure to be wooed by the sock hops and poodle skirts of a simpler time.