Is The Rocky Horror Picture Show relevant anymore?
I’m asking this question seriously, not tongue in cheek, or to start some deep think piece. I’m asking because I actually am not sure of the answer.
A few years ago, Glee did a Rocky Horror episode and it didn’t land. At the time, people thought it was too self-indulgent, but it also seemed….quaint. The show itself I mean. I caught a rerun last year at midnight, and other than the “Time Warp,” (which is stand alone timeless silly classic) none of it seemed to fit in with the culture as it stands today. If anything, it seemed a movie that delighted in playing off a world in which gay panic was an acceptable baseline–except that’s not the world today.
Rocky Horror, the phenomenon, was a piece for nerds at a time when being nerdy, or somehow not gender conformist, made one an utter outcast, and desperate to find a crowd of other non conformists to be with. (Today, the internet does that just fine.) And though there are still places in the US where some of that anti-nerd and anti-gay sway holds true, the truth is that the strides we’ve made in civil rights have changed how people see LBGT culture. Marriage equality is the law of the land. Add to that the rise of nerd dominance in pop culture means that a movie like this…just doesn’t feel necessary.
But then I saw the first picture of the remake with Laverne Cox, and I wondered if I was wrong.
The original 1970s Rocky Horror was a movie made at a time when most people had no idea what a transsexual actually looked like–there was simply zero representations of the reality of it in popular culture. But now, with kids coming out as transgender as teenager, and people like Cox making Best Dressed Red Carpet appearances, it changes the character 100%. And that’s what they’ve done here.
Cox doesn’t look like Tim Curry did, in some silly approximation of bondage wear. She looks “like the lovechild of David Bowie and Grace Jones,” as she states in the Entertainment Weekly article where this image debuted. Perhaps Rocky Horror isn’t dead, but the 1970s stereotype image we have of it is. Perhaps it’s time to let it be remade into something that works for this era. And hey, they even managed to work in Tim Curry, who is now wheelchair bound after his 2012 stroke, as the narrator, for those who might not be able to let go.