Oct 18 What if West Side Story Had Been Released In the Age of Social Media
When the film West Side Story was released in theaters on October 18th, 1961, it became an instant classic. To this day, it has more Academy Awards (10) than any other musical and it still proves to be popular and relevant. The songs have been covered and sampled dozens of times, most recently appearing in an episode of Glee. It’s also commonly referenced in movies and TV shows like Curb Your Enthusiasm. To celebrate the musical’s revival on Broadway, Vanity Fair recreated famous scenes from the movie using some of today’s most popular celebrities. In recognition of its 50th anniversary, we ask, “what if West Side Story had been released in the age of social media?”
None of the songs from the West Side Story Soundtrack made it on the Billboard Top 100 until 1962, several months after the movie was released. However, with the ability to share music, fans instantly propel the soundtrack to top of the chart the week the movie is released. Spotify’s integration with Facebook makes sure songs like “I Feel Pretty” and “America” are constantly inundating people’s newsfeeds.
A modern day Romeo and Juliet, West Side Story captures the nation’s attention like few movies have done before. Anyone who’s anyone has seen it and they can’t help but weigh in on their social channels.
Today they’re known as flash mobs. But in the ’60s, when a group of people gets together to sing and dance in a coordinated manner, it’s called a rumble. Named after the phrase the Jets and Sharks use to describe a fight between the two gangs, fans take enjoyment in knowing they can settle their differences with a well-thought-out song and dance routine.
During the first act, Officer Krupke confronts the Jets and warns them about causing trouble on his watch. After he leaves, they sing “Gee, Officer Krupke,” a song that makes fun of all the adults who try to make sense of teenage culture. At one point in the song, the character A-Rab, using the voice of a German psychoanalyst, pretends to give a professional analysis of the teens’ juvenile behavior. The character Action replies by saying, “Hey, I got a social disease!” This phrase becomes a staple of sixties pop culture which people use to explain their awkwardness or as a general excuse for bad behavior.
This famous still from the movie is what inspired it all.
JFK uses it to get out of a precarious situation.
Fidel Castro tells Che Guevara about an interesting trend.
Even Martin Luther King Jr. had to deal with hecklers.