Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Fifty Shades Of Grey: The Musical

Harvey Korman and Cloris Leachman in a scene from High Anxiety, Mel Brooks's riotous 1977 parody of Alfred Hitchcock  films

I'm sure many Old Tybee Ranger readers are well-aware of the Hampshire County, West Virginia, high school teacher who agreed to to show the film, Fifty Shades of Grey, to a class at their request. A school administrator thankfully happened to recognize the film - I wonder how - about ten minutes into the story and promptly shut it down. This week the teacher pleaded ignorance about the subject matter but was suspended without pay for the remainder of the school year. It's interesting to note that the Hampshire County Public Library announced the scheduling of the film earlier this month as part of its summer series. That news led to an uproar on a local basis, became a newsworthy story on a regional basis, and ended with the unfortunate cancellation of the entire summer program. I suppose the school story couldn't help but spill out on a national basis.

I know something about the greater Hampshire County situation because my family had a summer cottage just twelve miles from Romney, the county seat, For too many years, Hampshire has struggled to develop and maintain a consistently strong school system on several levels. There's no need to go into detail about the past here but let's say that this latest development does not speak well for Hampshire High School as a top tier center for education in West Virginia.

On the other hand, perhaps this is an opportunity for Hampshire officials to reconsider their decision and practice some seriously creative interdisciplinary education. Our film in question stands alone as an interesting niche in sex education but imagine its potential when viewed as a compare and contrast study with the Mel Brooks comedy, High Anxiety, pictured above. And just think of the possibilities in music history, composition, comedy, piano, and performance when you add the following:

I'm really not sure where all of this is leading other than my interest in what's in the Hampshire County water supply and the other titles in the library's summer film series. The situation does remind me of my high school experience in the early 1960's when our school officials made national news for setting aside an outdoor smoking area for students. That attention resulted in a swift reversal and an end to student smoking on campus after a few weeks. Makes me feel for those poor Hampshire High students. They barely got to smolder.

Photo: still from Mel Brooks's film parody, High Anxiety [1977]

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