Some thoughts on “West Side Story”

My first viewing of the film in maybe 15 years.

1.) I always said it was the best comedy ever because of the dancing.

1.1.) Why is this our introduction to these gangs? Ballet? Really? Choreographed basketball? Really?

1.2.) I think this should be remade as a hip-hop or punk musical.

2.) Race and gender stuff–I won’t go there–there’s too much and it’s too easy.

2.1) Ok I’ll go there a little. Cop tells white gang (the Jets) to “play nice with the PRs” (Puerto Ricans, the Sharks), Jets say the cops just want them to let them “come in and take everything out from under our noses.” Parallel to anti-immigration thought much?

2.2.) The wannabe female Jets member’s name is “Anybodys”–what’s that all about? You’d think it could be a reference to being a slut but she’s not. On the contrary–she’s a tomboy to the point of androgyny, i.e. not sexual, in sharp contrast to the highly-femme girlfriends of the Jets who know their place.

2.2.1) A Jet tells Anybodys to “go walk the streets like your sister.”

2.2.2) Tony says to Anybodys: “You’re a girl. Be a girl and beat it.” He meant for her to leave. Or did he?

2.3.) The Jets wear pastels, oranges/blues. The Sharks wear dark, reds/purples (vaginal/sexual?)–except for Maria (the “pure” beauty) who wanted to dye red her white dress with red sash.

2.4.) Tony: “You’re not making a joke?” Maria: “I have not yet learned to joke that way.” Why not?–because she’s young, female, or Puerto Rican?

2.5.) Bernard says to Maria: “Someday when you are an old married woman with five children, you can tell me what to do, but until then it’s the other way around.” So will he direct her life till the birth of her fifth child?

2.6.) The Sharks comment on their being paid half of what white Americans are paid; “we come here like babies”–hopeful, naive. In Puerto Rico “we had nothing”; “we still have nothing, only more expensive”.

2.8) “I feel pretty, so pretty the city should give me its key.” Clearly.

2.9) The Jets on anger management: “Got a rocket in your pocket, keep cool.”

2.10.) I realize that at this point I may be reading way too much into things; this looks like an obscene, phallic gesture to me: check out this video for “Something’s Coming”–at 1:57 during the lyrics “Come on, deliver to me.”

2.10.1.) Who’d’ve thought Tony would grow up to be Ben Horne in “Twin Peaks”??

3.) When I was growing up, my mom would sing, “I feel shitty, oh so shitty.” I heard that way more than the original.

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