Ed Driscoll

Dances With Shriners

Great moments in PC euphemisms and the continual dumbing down of American culture. Anybody remember the “gang rape” scene in Bye Bye Birdie? No? Neither did I. But as Big Hollywood asks, “Broadway Too PC for ‘Bye, Bye, Birdie’ ‘Rape’ Scene?”

I bet that headline got your attention!  But, as you’ll see a little later in this post, the scene in question is not really a “rape” at all.  But that didn’t keep the NY Daily News from running this headline yesterday:

‘Bye Bye Birdie’ revival on Broadway drops scene for ‘gang rape’ concern

“Just a copy editor trying to get attention by over-exaggerating a story,” you think?  That’s what I thought, too.  But here is the story with Gina Gershon’s quote:

According to Gina Gershon, who stars as Rose in the upcoming revival, the production has said bye bye to a frisky dance sequence that has been in the show since its debut in 1960.  In the scene, Rose, originated on stage by Chita Rivera and on film by Janet Leigh, crashes a Shriners banquet, flirts and cavorts on, around and underneath a table with the fez-heads.  As written, it’s a funny dance showcase. So why is it too hot to handle in 2009? Gershon told The News’ theater critic Joe Dziemianowicz, “It seemed a little too gang rape-y.”

The Daily News takes the words right out of my mouth when it says:

That should come as interesting news to countless high schools, parochial academies and theater camps where this number has been performed for nearly 50 years.

Did the Frankfurt School ever mount a student production? Maybe that’s when the play first ran into trouble. In any case, click over to Big Hollywood for the shocking video of the offending scene, which begins with Chita Rivera cavorting with that infamously aggressive patriarchal heteronormative archetype, Tom Bosley.