What Hairspray Can Teach Us About Current USA Problems


This morning we three girls watched the musical Hairspray.  I had not seen the movie in over six years and did not recall the plot (it was practically like seeing it for the first time–with a few exceptions).  What caught me off guard were the glaring similarities to the current, American, societal issues, particularly the ones occurring on the racial/governmental front.

While there is no longer legal segregation, racial prejudices are an underlying (and blatant) problem–all ways, might I add, not only white to black.  In the movie, there is a peaceful walking protest made up of black people and a few white people.  In the middle of the street, they come across a line of policemen that do not want to let them cross.  The woman leading the walk speaks calmly, saying they are peacefully walking, the officer won’t budge, the main, white character hits the officer on the back with her sign, and he calls her on assault of a police officer (if you want to know the rest, watch the movie).

The first issue is the line of police officers refusing passage to a peaceful walking protest.  The scene bears an eerie resemblance to current happenings in the USA.  The second issue was assaulting the officer–violence, no matter the level, is not the solution.  The third issue was that the individuals/entity that people expect to go to when injustice occurs were the very ones acting unjustly.  Again, how many YouTube videos display officers blatantly shooting non-violent and unarmed individuals, committing a crime for which a non-officer would be arrested?

There is a deep-seated problem in the United States (yes, in the world, too,but I’m addressing the USA in this post), one that many claim is not an issue, but daily news headlines are saying otherwise.  Find the movie and watch it–don’t let the fact that it is a musical deter you.  As you watch it, look past the plot and understand the message.  Then, compare it to today.  If you are a teacher and you are reading this, may I recommend you play it in your classroom and have each student make notes of issues and comparisons to today.  This is not the time to play the part of an ostrich.  When young children are being shot for holding toy guns, when officers’ first instinct is to shoot to kill and not to injure, when law-enforcement is no longer considered safe–SOMETHING IS WRONG.  And something needs to change.