“Great Scott!”

While I was at the Kirkhoff Center at GVSU, I went to a show that I had never seen before, butI’ve heard so much about. I heard how much it changed our culture, and how we look at LGBTQ individuals. When I sat down, I noticed that about 60% of all the people were dressed up for this film. I didn’t know why some people were in dresses at the time, and I found out that they were wearing them because the film Rocky Horror Picture Show was being played. Being a small-town kid, I didn’t know what it was like to have so many people in a big room like that atone time. It was a cool feeling being a part of something bigger when you’re on a campus with 25,000 other students. I had no clue on what it was about, and I was eager to find out.

On Halloween Night, I walked over to Kirkhoff to see what was being screened for films. I found that they were playing Rocky Horror Picture Show, and I was curious when the sign stated “Interactive”. I headed up the stairs, and I was surprised on how many people were in attendance. There were men in dresses, and ladies in dresses. I didn’t understand the significance of it until the film ended. Once the room was almost full, the lights began to dim, and a lady walked up to the podium and talked into the microphone. In a way, it felt like a pep rally, and the lady was really pumping all of us up for the film. All of the people were chanting “Asshole, Slut,” and “Bitch” when the characters names would pop up, which was interesting. I thought it was a part of the preview speech, but I later realized that it was in the film.

When the film started, everyone was cheering, which was exciting to hear. When the newlyweds Ralph Hapschatt and Betty Munroe were exiting the church, everyone started throwing rice at the screen, and it went everywhere, even hitting my head. I was perplexed as to why people were throwing rice, and it occurred to me that the person at the front door was handing out goodie bags “For the interactive parts.” When Frank N Furter, played by Tim Curry, first appeared, everyone went crazy. He was wearing a skanky outfit, and it seemed to signify what the stereotype of being a LGBTQ individual was when the film was made. Everyone was screaming, and when the first song came on, it sounded like a concert hall. Everyone was having fun and enjoying their Halloween Night.

When the film cuts to Brad and Janet getting lost and entering Frank’s house, they come across a huge mansion with his servant, Riff Raff, letting them in. At this point, I can see that everyone is getting anxious to see Frank, and what he has in store for his new guests.  When he brings them to his ab, we see a big table with a body in it, and with that, he is going to create Rocky, his creature. When everyone goes into song, I see the audience join in, as if they are there with the cast, and it felt good to see that everyone was happy. When Dr. Scott enters the lab, we hear Brad shout out “Great Scott!” and everyone threw toilet paper everywhere. We wore party hats, blew into noisemakers, and turned on our phone lights during specific parts of the film, and it made the whole “interactive” aspect if the event much more fun, and it made the film very enjoyable for me.

            What I was surprised about was how many people didn’t see the film before the event started, including myself. I was also surprised on how many have seen Rocky Horror Picture Show, and it seemed to be the majority of the room, because it is a cult classic. For me, I’ve never been exposed to this kind of thing in our culture, and it was an eye opener for me. It was cool to see people from all across the spectrum to try new things, and to do it for the sake of their own amusement. As the film progressed, I caught on the name calling thing, and I was having fun with it. Of course, I wasn’t doing it excessively. It was at the scene where Janet is in bed and Frank N. Furter comes in and surprises her when everyone starts chanting “Slut” and “Asshole” at the characters. It was a cool antic that the audience presented, and it was really cool to see everyone involved with it. This scene didn’t seem to make my jaw drop, but what happened next did. We go to Brad’s room, and he’s also getting ready for bed, and then we see Frank disguised as Janet come in and catch him completely off guard. Everyone was chanting, screaming, and hollering as the scene went on, and I knew that Janet and Brad were cheating on each other at the moment. When all of the people are there when Frank N Furter creates his creature, everyone is in awe and curious in what it can do. When Rocky appears, it seems like a perfect being that is muscular, and fit. Frank is loving this and is pleased with his creation. What I didn’t expect as the film is nearing the end, I didn’t expect Riff Raff and Magenta turn on Frank, and that they wanted to return to their home of Transylvania. They shoot Frank, and as Rocky climbs up a tower, they shoot the tower as they fall into a pool below. I was surprised because the direction of the film wasn’t going in a betrayal direction, and I thought the film would end when characters such as Brad, Janet, and Rocky Horror were turned into statues. I was even more shocked when Brad and Janet escape, and the Transylvanian twins turn Frank’s mansion into a spaceship, having them return to their home. Everyone was just as shocked as I was, and as the film concluded, the room erupted into a thunderous applause.

Now that my “Rocky Horror” virginity has been taken, I can say that I thoroughly enjoyed the film. I had never experienced anything like it, and I realized that the Rocky Horror Picture Show showed me that I can be whoever I wanted to be, and I figured this out with a lot of guys wearing dresses. We can all be weird and show our inner selves. Even in 1975, where social norms were against being gay or lesbian, Rocky Horror defied the odds and became an instant cult classic as soon as it premiered. I realized that no matter the circumstances, you can always be the real you, whether you’re wearing a dress, a pair of sweatpants, or a Halloween costume. It never occurred to me that this film could have been shut down, or not be able to get any funds, but it did, and that’s what is one of the most impressive feats of this film. It destroyed stereotypes of being a LGTBQ person and made everyone show their inner self just a little bit, and it made everyone proud of who they are. With its fantastic use of props, clothing, and character engagements, it is a film worth watching anytime, not just on a cold Halloween night. The Rocky Horror Picture Show pointed out a very powerful message for any audience: just be yourself.

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1 thought on ““Great Scott!”

  1. Austin, reading your post makes me feel much better as to feeling out of place! Like you stated, I knew the movie – sort of, but I did not know the extent of the audience engagement. I too loved the message in the Rocky Horror Picture Show. It tells people that they can be whoever they want and should not be afraid to do so. It is crazy to think that this movie came out in 1975; a time where being openly gay was not a common thing. Rocky Horror Picture Show truly has something for everyone. It has comedy, horror, drama, Si-Fi, and LGBTQ qualities. I found the interactive parts to be extremely fun. At first, as you said, I was not sure what exactly was going on, but I would eventually find myself getting the hang of it. It seemed as if some people have done the interactive experience many times. A question I have for you is: Do you think you will ever find yourself going to another Rocky Horror Picture Show interactive viewing? If so, (since you are no longer a “virgin”) do you think that you would participate in the costumes? Personally, I would love to go to another interactive viewing of the RHPS, especially with my friends. As for the costumes, I don’t think I am quite ready to go out in public in a dress. I would find myself to be a little too shy for that. In conclusion, I am glad that you had as good of a time as I had. We both came in a little nervous or unsure of what was going on, but as I could tell, I believe we both left loving it. I look forward to finding many more similar events on campus and/or in downtown Grand Rapids.

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