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Slut Shaming, 80’s versus Naughties

08 Oct

I’ll admit to misspending time in my youth. Much time spent in the drug- and sex-abusing district of the city where I grew up, not abusing many drugs or engaging in much sex. But it was a place to “stare at the junkies, and the closet queens,” and otherwise drift through the youth of a generation that the Fourth Turning tells me was BY DESIGN not invested in by society; cast adrift, we made our own way.

One part of this experience was the post-midnight showings of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. There were often live performers acting out parts of the movie (there still are, today.), but the performers who were supposed to act out the most were, in fact, the audience. The film was a comically bad 1975 production starring a young Susan Sarandon and Barry Bostwick, and the talented-but-forever-expected-to-wear-drag Tim Curry. It was so bad that audiences on both coasts began to hoot back at the movie, and to take part in the action.

So you were expected to bring different accouterments to the movie, including water guns to simulate rain, rice for a wedding scene, and toast for a scene where a toast is proposed. (complete list here) In addition, you were supposed to learn different lines in the movie, so as to appear to converse with the characters; of course, this required multiple attendance in the time before DVD and YouTube. This was an excellent way to build repeat customers. You can find a pretty complete list of responses here.

For example, Brad, the character played by Bostwick, has the following lines in the movie, with interjections added:

Brad Hi! My name’s Brad Majors. ASSHOLE. And this is my fiancee’, Janet Weiss. SLUT. SPELL URINATE BRAD! You are, uh. CLOSE ENOUGH!

The whole experience goes like that. The script linked about leaves out my favorite line, asking Frank “What’s your favorite hot protein drink?” before he asks for someone to “Come.” But the question one might ask is, why does the audience refer to Janet Weiss, Brad’s fiancee, as a slut? Well a few lines further in the movie…

Janet You tricked me! I wouldn’t have, I never, never…
Frank-N-Furter Yes, yes I know, but it isn’t all bad is it? I think you’ll really find it quite pleasurable.
Janet Oh, oh stop! I mean help! Oh Brad, oh Brad! HE’S NOT DOWN THERE!
Frank-N-Furter Brad’s probably asleep by now, do you want him to see you like this?
Janet It’s your fault, you’re to blame! Oh, I was saving myself. FOR A RAINY DAY?
Frank-N-Furter I’m sure you’re not spent, yet. SPEND HER, SPEND HER, LEAVE A DEPOSIT!
Janet Promise you won’t tell Brad?

Next, Frank goes on to visit Brad, with similarly comical insertions (of lines! Sheesh, people!). Meanwhile, Janet is troubled:

Janet THE THREE FACES OF JANET WEISS. What’s happening here? Where’s Brad? Where’s anybody? ROCKY STILL CAN’T FIND THE BATHROOM. Oh Brad. Brad my darling. JANET MY SLUT! How could I do this to you? IT WAS EASY, NO IT WAS HARD, THAT’S WHY IT WAS EASY!

Janet then views Frank and Brad smoking in bed together on a CCTV, and decides to pursue the muscle-bound creature that Frank has created for his plaything. She then goes on to have sex with Rocky. (Touch-a-touch ME)

Now, it was great fun in the 80s to join in an audience, with a high number of homosexuals and liberals in one of the most Sodom- and Gomorrah-tainted cities in the world, and decry Janet as a slut. Yes, even depraved liberals would have no objection in the dark of a movie theater to slut-shaming; even though directed at no living girl, the message delivered was unequivocal: don’t be like that. I learned RHPS old-school, and left it aside as a thing of my youth.

Until one day, some 21 years after my last visit, I made my way back to the theater where it was now shown in my local city. Now, it was at 1AM, and the live show was… different. Back in the 80s, they had real men doing the part of the transvestite, and muscle men playing the part of Rocky, the creation. Now, in the late Naughties, ALL the performers were young women, all scantily clad, and none were hesitant about exposing flesh, top or bottom.

The audience participation was still there, but different, too. In place of fondly remembered lines that now make no sense (like, “Hey, Kool Aid” when a man breaks through a wall) there were gaps; I said the old lines for old times’ sake, being the only person in the audience who did.

The biggest miss, however, was in the evaluation of the character of Janet Weiss. The audience would use the word “fag” in a very-homosexual part of town, but they would not call Janet out on her behavior. When the line “Brad, my darling!” was said on screen, I was a voice crying in the wilderness with my lone response: “Janet, my slut!”

It was one wake-up for how the culture had changed, and I found the Manosphere the next year.

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18 Comments

Posted by on October 8, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

18 responses to “Slut Shaming, 80’s versus Naughties

  1. deti

    October 8, 2012 at 6:55 pm

    When I was coming up in the late 1970s and 80s, calling a girl a slut was just about the worst thing you could say to or about that girl. it was fighting words if you said it to her boyfriend or father (even if true). Girls did not want to be called sluts or become known as sluts, even if they were sluts. The sluts, of course, knew they were sluts, and knew their place in the girl hierarchy.

    But in the mid 1980s it became OK for the upper class girls to become promiscuous. But they weren’t sluts because they came from money or social standing or had talent or lived on the “right” side of the tracks. No, they weren’t sluts. They were still nice girls who happened to be “exploring their sexuality”. Only the poor girls, the girls living in the bad part of town, the trashy girls, the single pregnant girls at the high school of whom everyone gossiped in hushed tones as they looked askance, the girls who had to “go away for a while” — THEY were sluts.

    It will soon be a hate crime to call a woman a slut, or to utter the word in public.

     
  2. deti

    October 8, 2012 at 7:01 pm

    Also, “slut” was a four letter word. If you said it at school in front of a teacher or anyone else in authority anywhere it was like saying “shit” or “f*ck”. “Slut” was not uttered in polite conversation, ever, even when the conversants were clearly referring to sluts. “Slut” was not used on television except on “Saturday Night Live” or other such edgy shows.

    Similarly treated were the words “bitch”, “ass”, “whore” or “ho”, “bastard”, “piss” or “pissed off”, and the phrases “it sucks” or “that sucks”. You simply did not say these things in public or in polite conversation, and you certainly didn’t say them at school. Nor were they heard on TV. You had to rent a PG or R movie to hear a lot of that salty language.

     
  3. okrahead

    October 8, 2012 at 7:03 pm

    And here’s the problem… When sluts are accepted it’s virgins who are shamed. Now our society mocks chastity and elevates the whore. Woe unto those who call good evil, and evil good.

     
  4. Will S.

    October 8, 2012 at 7:55 pm

    @ EA: Doing the time warp, are ye? 😉

     
  5. electricangel1978

    October 8, 2012 at 9:20 pm

    @Will,

    That’s the best-known piece from the film, but I prefer “Sweet Transvestite” for the commentary opportunities.

    I just had an idea: RHPS is a warning what will happen to American culture if it exposes its virginal women to the depravity of what GBFM would call butthexing, and drugs. Janet insists a few times that she does NOT want to go into the house of depravity (what the audience, shouting over Brad’s indignanty-shouted “Hospitality?!”, calls “Horse Depravity!”), that she wants to leave, several times. Brad, supposed to be the image of healthy masculine America, responds to the outrages with politeness, and by eventually giving in to them, rather like the complaints that Britain will politely will itself out of existence for its unwillingness to confront the outrageous behavior of non-Britons (or immigrants) in that benighted land.

    Well, gay camp went mainstream, and now we have… whatever this time of trouble is.

     
  6. electricangel1978

    October 8, 2012 at 9:29 pm

    @Deti,

    George Carlin’s famous “7 dirty Words” routine would be cut down to 5 today. The vulgar term for urine and the one for breasts have crossed the divide. I think only the f-bomb will remain. We are a coarser society.

    I wonder how much of this came out of gay liberation, per my above comment. Homosexuals, not worrying about pregnancy, were FAR more promiscuous. Quoting this classic Roissy post,
    If women had the same intense, indefatigable, indiscriminate sex drive as men it would resemble M. Blowhard’s description of his time as a straight man witnessing the gay scene in New York:

    If Fire Island was acres of beef on the hoof, Christopher Street was Mardi Gras in New Orleans, only with fewer inhibitions and without a female to be seen. One club or bar after another … Each establishment, and the street itself, filled with exuberant gayguys in freaky costumes … Music, drugs, and booze everywhere … Carousing of a pitch that would put beer-drinking Spring Break jocks to shame …

    As well as the most aggressive and direct sexual behavior I’ve ever witnessed. I found the scene overheated and hair-raising all at once. I’d never before and have never since witnessed a scene so single-mindedly focused on getting off. People as commodities … Relentless dick-centeredness

     
  7. electricangel1978

    October 8, 2012 at 9:32 pm

    @Okrahead,

    I think a culture that shames what makes a lasting marriage possible is one not deserving of a long life. I suspect that that is what we have now.

     
  8. Will S.

    October 8, 2012 at 9:44 pm

    @ EA: “Well, gay camp went mainstream, and now we have… whatever this time of trouble is.”

    Indeed, here we are…

     
  9. Will S.

    October 8, 2012 at 10:35 pm

    (I should say, I was also joking about the retro theme of this post, comparing the ’80s to today…)

     
  10. electricangel1978

    October 9, 2012 at 12:17 am

    In my worst Quebecois, Will: Defense de Worrier! But I was comparing the 80s to the Naughties, to do something even more astounding, as time is fleeting.

     
  11. Will S.

    October 9, 2012 at 4:38 am

    Ah yes; the Naughties, last decade… But things last decade were scarcely different than now, were they?

     
  12. Podsnap

    October 9, 2012 at 7:33 am

    Hey, great post. I was a bit young for the Rocky Horrot Picture Show when it first came out, but I fondly remember the late night showings – and the fanatical following it had.

     
  13. electricangel1978

    October 9, 2012 at 12:10 pm

    Thanks, Podsnap.

    I need to do a little background into the politics and sexuality of Richard O’Brien, the original creator. The more I think about it, the more I think that the film is a sort of warning of what will happen to “normal” middle-class America if the pathology of the gay subculture is unleashed on it: your virginal daughters will give it up to bad boys and become exhibitionist sluts, your sons will cower before the PC deviancy and eventually turn gay, and your society and science (Dr. Scott) will undergo undue stress and kowtow to PC (Scott at one point says “you’re all right by me” in a wormy way to avoid consequences) until these “aliens” are blasted off to another planet, segregated again from mainstream America.

     
  14. Drama

    October 10, 2012 at 9:33 am

    Can’t have our little darlings growing up to cultivate a personality now can we. No, instead let’s have them all be weak and pathetic because anytime they got picked on its the other guys fault.

     
  15. Chewie

    October 21, 2012 at 10:31 pm

    Good post.
    I’ve seen RHPS many times in Milwaukee between 2007 and 2010 and the audience *always* called out Janet for being a slut. Maybe Milwaukee never got the PC memo…

     
  16. Sy Syberg

    November 1, 2015 at 1:50 am

    And then there’s Todd Rundgren and Big Star’s early 70s nugget “Slut”.

    “S
    L
    U
    T

    She way be a slut, but she looks good to me”

    This was performed by Big Star until the very end (c. 2007) with increasingly equivocal looks from the millennials come to worship a “godfather”.

     

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