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Sunday, February 19, 2017

"Dirty Dancing" is a Subversive Masterpiece

The website XOJane includes an article titled Dirty Dancing Is A SUBVERSIVE MASTERPIECE And Here Are Four Reasons Why, written by Lesley Kinzel. The four reasons are:

1. Dirty Dancing is About Abortion

2. Dirty Dancing is Rife with Class Politics

3. Dirty Dancing Gives the Sheltered 17-Year-Old All the Sexual Agency

4. "I Carried a Watermelon"

All the reasons are worth reading, but the most worthwhile for me was the fourth -- "I Carried a Watermelon".
Baby Houseman carrying a watermelon
in the movie Dirty Dancing
Reading much about Dirty Dancing, I occasionally have been puzzled when some people consider Baby's watermelon remark to be amusing, memorable and meaningful. I never got this until Kinzel spelled it out for me, as follows:
There are so many quotable lines in Dirty Dancing, most memorably, “Nobody puts Baby in a corner,” spoken by Johnny Castle when he takes Baby from her family’s dinner table at the end-of-season dinner for one final dance. But I am partial to “I carried a watermelon.”

Baby delivers this line very early in the movie, when she has helped Billy, another hotel employee and also Johnny’s cousin, to carry the aforementioned fruit to an after-hours party in the staff quarters. When Johnny, whom Baby has been watching with barely concealed fascination, notices she’s there, she explains, “I carried a watermelon.” Once he’s gone, she repeats it to herself in utter horror, “I carried a WATERMELON?!”

It’s possible there are people somewhere in the world who have never said anything ridiculous and inane to a person they found attractive, and have never felt the self-reproach and terror of having made such an impression, but I don’t actually want to know about those people. I want to live in a world where we can all recognize an “I carried a watermelon” moment and accept that we are weird and inept sometimes and that this is normal and even funny. This is such a perfectly human moment, and Baby is so brilliantly caught between attraction and embarrassment, it resonates.

I love Dirty Dancing for lots of reasons, but Baby's character is one of the main ones. She is often gawky and unsure, but she also knows what she wants, and is fearless about going after it -- because she straddles that line between the wobbly uncertainty of adolescence and the relative confidence of adulthood, which is actually how I remember myself and my friends at that age.

Baby is never truly innocent, so she can never be spoiled; she’s neither precious nor pure, she is just inexperienced, and so she defies many of the stereotypical portrayals of no-longer-a-girl, not-yet-a-woman characters. She has depth and purpose and wisdom and even when she doesn't know what she's doing, she pushes onward with courage and aplomb. For these reasons and more I consider Dirty Dancing to be one of the better movies to leave an impact on my formative years.
Now this watermelon remark's import is obvious, but somehow I never got it before.


Another blogger, who calls herself "Laurie in Movies", wrote an article, titled Recipe For The Kellerman Kooler, about how she put on a Dirty Dancing party that featured a watermelon punch.

We're getting excited for our Dirty Dancing viewing party  this weekend, where we’ll be watching the 80s classic Dirty Dancing staring Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey. I was assigned the laborious task of carrying the watermelon, AND creating the signature cocktail for the evening, but I persevered, and came up with the Kellerman Kooler, aka the Dirty Watermelon Margarita, which is guaranteed to get everyone loosened up for the dance party!

Kellerman's Kooler

- 1 cup of seeded watermelon, cut into chunks

- 1.5 oz  of white tequila

- 1 oz of Aperol or Cointreu

- juice of one lime

- teaspoon of simple syrup or agave

- cup of ice

- fresh mint for garnish

- salt for rim (use a salt/pepper mix to make it extra Dirty)

Blend all ingredients in a blender.

Prepare salted glass rim by rubbing the lime rind around the rim and placing glass rim on a plate of salt.

Pour into salted glasses, garnish with fresh mint
I haven't tried the drink, but the recipe looks delicious.

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