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The Rocky Horror Show is a musical by Richard O'Brien that presents a satirical tribute to the horror and science fiction films of the mid-twentieth century. It premiered in June 1973 at the Royal Court Theatre in London. The play narrates the story of a young couple who seek shelter from a storm in the home of a crazy scientist called Dr Frank N. Furter. They then get a chance to meet's the scientist's latest creation: an artificially made monster named Rocky Horror. The musical was among the earliest ones to depict multiple sexual orientations in their storylines. It went on to become a cultural icon and made a significant contribution to the sexual revolution.
The story in The Rocky Horror Show is about Brad and Janet, a newly engaged couple. Before their upcoming wedding, they decide to visit a college professor who introduced them. They decide to shorten their journey by cutting through a forest. However, a terrible weather made worse by poor visibility cause their car to break down. Since they cannot repair the car, they set on foot in search of help and shelter. They see a large, sinister castle, and are welcomed by its owner; a transvestite and mentally challenged scientist called Dr. Frank-N-Furter who lives there with his servants, Magenta and Riff Raff.
The couple is taken to the doctor's secret laboratory where he reveals to them his plan to create artificial human life. He shows them his newest creation, a half-naked blonde monster called Rocky. To bring the creature into life, the scientist had used half the brain of a man called Eddie. He says his main aim of creating Rocky was to satisfy sexual requests of the local residents. The couple then sees Eddie who can still talk and move about despite the fact that half his brain is missing. Frank then kills Eddie to show Rocky that the former did not mean anything to him.
That night, both Brad and Janet are seduced separately by Frank in disguise. Meanwhile, Dr. Scott, the professor that the couple had gone to visit, arrives at the castle in search of Eddie, who is his nephew. Frank offers to reveal the whereabouts of Eddie over dinner. While serving food, Eddie's body is revealed under the table, implying that he was the main ingredient. An altercation breaks out that result in Frank transforming everyone into statues with the use of a device known as the Medusa Transformer. Meanwhile, Magenta and Riff Raff, fed up with being servants, decide to kill Frank and go back to their home planet. Riff Raff kills Frank by blasting him with a laser. Rocky climbs on top of a tower in a bid to escape, but is killed after it crumbles under his weight. The two servants set the humans free and take off in a rocket ship.
One of the main ideas contained in The Rocky Horror Show is sexual deviancy. The musical highlights how the sexuality-oriented fringe communities of the 1970s were perceived and depicted by the mainstream society. It also looks at how such groups reacted to the perceptions. Another idea is the then new culture that was just emerging. In the 1970s, the counterculture of sex, drugs, and violence was in its early stages. It was changing into a new culture of cynical sexuality and simulated fantasy that is rampant today. The musical somehow announced the arrival of the new culture and could be considered its expression, although it also doubled as critique of the excesses associated with the culture. The character of Dr. Frank-N-Furter is the ideal symbol of the new culture. This is well represented when he performs the song Don't dream it Be it. Simply put, the message being passed on is that people should not just fantasize about anything. They should act on their fantasies and turn them into reality.
Several moments in The Rocky Horror Show trigger the most crucial conflict. One of them is when Frank seduces both Brad and Janet while posing as each of them. Janet is betrayed when she finds out since she had been saving herself until she got married. This incident makes her angry and she vows to get back at Frank by harming Rocky. Another instance that instigates conflict is when Frank reveals Eddie's body below the dinner table. At this point, it is revealed that the castle's inhabitants are space aliens under the leadership of Frank. They had deviated from their original mission so as to have kinky sex with earth people and also create Rocky. Magenta demands that they go back to their home planet now that their identity has been comprised. The conflict occurs when Frank refuses, resulting in Magenta killing him and freeing the humans.
One of the most convincing performances in the musical is when Frank uses alien technology to transform several characters into singing and dancing replicas of himself. The transformation completes their transition to total decadence. As each one of them take the stage, dressed like the mad doctor, in fishnet stockings, high-heel shoes and corsets, he or she performs in a stage skit that hints something about their personality. Afterwards, Frank is depicted in a swimming pool scene where he performs the play's theme song.
Throughout the play, Frank relies on simulations to induce deception and to satisfy his fantasies. Inspire by Dr. Frankenstein from Mary Shelley's novel, he makes a simulation of a human being in the form of Rocky. The creation is meant to be a real-life symbolic arena for satisfying sexual urges. Frank dresses in various costumes to disguise himself so as to seduce naive individuals and theatrically reprise roles from popular films. He lives in a world in which everyone pretends to be someone else. The present is combined with bits and pieces of old films in a way that life becomes an unlimited entertainment revue. The mad doctor is a second-tier simulation made from simulations of the film industry. He is holed in a schizophrenic's virtual reality and obsessed with a fantasy world whereby he is a star.
The Rocky Horror Show highlights how the media corrupts society, culture and people, especially the youth. Today, we live in a society that is similar to a Dr. Frank-N-Furter's castle whereby violence, sex and forbidden fantasies are turned into theatrical shows. Sex and violence, which happen to be the elements that are most often repressed, are glorified in popular culture. The have been converted into sources of mass entertainment. The media is a kind of a mind roller coaster that induces a sense of danger and thrill in people by taking them to the extremes of social taboos.
Locke, Liz. "" Don't Dream It, Be It": The Rocky Horror Picture Show as Cultural Performance." New Directions in Folklore 3 (2015).
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