That box is the biggest thing since Gutenberg invented the printing press, and I’m the biggest thing on it!
Herbie Stemple, a character from one of the entries on this list, couldn’t have stated it better. Since its inception, television has ruled the roost in households around the world. Before the Internet, it was our fastest source of news and the most attainable form of entertainment. You simply can’t escape it. And now-a-days, why would you want to? Thanks to The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad, Modern Family, Sherlock, Downton Abbey, Dr. Who, Mad Men, Homeland, Dexter, and dozens of others, it could be argued that television has never been so enthralling.
And film has certainly taken note. Movies about television aren’t as commonplace as you might think, and the spectrum of the types of movies on this list is a pretty big one, so it’s pretty important we recognize the good ones we have.
Hairspray created some waves in 2007 when it was released (being both a remake and an adaptation of the musical), but it’s pretty hard to deny the fact that it was pretty damn infectious. With a stellar cast full of favorites (Walken, Travolta, Pfeiffer), fresh faces (Kelly, Blonsky), and on the rise stars (Marsden, Snow, Efron), Hairspray didn’t have much trouble finding an audience with its hip 50s-esque tunes and bright color palette. And let’s not forget, that while it’s a perky, funky, more kid-friendly Grease, it’s also about television.
Segregation? That’s a given. But this movie is all about ratings. Who works on screen, who doesn’t, what passes as being acceptable to the rest of the nation, what doesn’t; it’s all about being the face of television. And that makes the civil rights movement that takes place mid-movie all the more enthralling, with television as the centerpiece.
Critics and audiences wasted no time in lavishing praise on the film, but it seems to be a movie-musical that’s gone forgotten. It may not be Chicago, but it certainly doesn’t try to be.
This article was first posted on November 17, 2012