Tuesday, March 04, 2008

What Movie Most Inspired Me?

"The Rocky Horror Picture Show" changed my life. When I went off to college, I was a very shy bookish girl from semi-rural Indiana. Late one Friday night, a dorm-mate suggested I go to the movie with her. I said "yes" and she got out spray bottles and started making toast!

This movie broke ground in a way none before had. It was the earliest winner in the midnight movie market and included incest, cannibalism, homosexuality and a host of other previously taboo topics that got people talking in college campuses around the nation. Though it was roundly panned by critics everywhere, in its 30+ years post release, it's still going strong and has made more than 100 times the initial investment. The movie helped launch the careers of Academy Award Winner Susan Sarandon, actor Barry Bostwick (played the mayor in Spin City), singer / actor Tim Curry (now in Spamalot) and made the singer Meat Loaf a household name (“Paradise by the Dashboard Lights”). Recently, it was recently included for preservation in the National Film Registry, a collection of only 475 films (as of 2007) by the Librarian of Congress.

What really got me thinking that first year in college was how the movie portrayed people who were pretty OK with themselves—they dressed and acted how they liked and weren’t held hostage by convention (or, um, normality). As a result, I loosened up quite a bit, started having fun with my fashion sense and choices in music and began enjoying my life while completing my degree.

I thank the makers of the movie and the stage play on which it derived, who were themselves mavericks. Because of my experience with this movie, I was able to consider interracial dating, refused to dye my hair when it started turning prematurely white (at age 25) and grew my hair into beautiful, thin, waist-length dreadlocks. I left a successful career and started a business 12 years ago to the tune of “you’ll never make it”…I’m still going strong.

I became a force of nature rather than someone who people just had to deal with (or not).

The movie was fun and freeing and made no sense. That, I think, was its power. That and being able to lob toast at a movie screen.