From time to time, my blog ventures into controversial territory. This post will surely ruffle some feathers, but here it goes. Baby should have stayed in the corner.
In the movie Dirty Dancing, Baby, a young woman played by Jennifer Gray, falls in love with an older dance instructor at a resort in the Catskills. Not just any dance instructor, mind you, but Johnny Castle, who oozes sex appeal with every breath. Castle, played by the late great Patrick Swayze, gives the famous line, “Nobody puts Baby in the corner,” to Baby’s father after she was told not to see Johnny Castle anymore. Now, if some guy walked up to me and said those words to me, I would not have been as calm as Baby’s dad.
Let’s look at why Baby should have stayed in the corner.
At most, Baby was 18. Johnny Castle was in his late 20s. She was probably closer to 17 since she was going to go to college or the Peace Corps. Let’s say you have a daughter that’s 17 or 18 and some guy enters your vacation grinding his hips against everyone in the room. I bet you’d have reservations about letting your daughter go off to be hoisted and humped around a dance floor. And to top it off, Baby sneaks off to Castle’s bungalow, where they have sex. Someone sees Baby leaving in the morning and shares the information with the family.
In the film, Baby lies and asks for $250 to give to a friend in need. Baby’s father believes the money is going to be given to her friend Neil. It turns out the money is for Castle’s dance partner who needs money for an abortion. Later, Baby’s father finds out and thinks Castle was the one who impregnated his dance partner. You can see how he would assume that.
After Castle’s partner has an abortion, she becomes seriously ill. And who comes in to save the day? Daddy. The hero of the story is Baby’s daddy. He uses his medical knowledge to save a life and used his fatherly intuition to try and protect his daughter. Dr. Houseman was a wise man and should have been given the benefit of the doubt that he understood the ways of the world.
Baby’s father, Dr. Houseman, by all accounts has been a good man his entire life. He’s respected by his peers and loved by his daughters. Before the vacation, Baby adores her father. At the beginning of the movie, Baby says this about her dad, “I thought I’d never find a guy as great as my Dad.”
Baby is infatuated with Castle and falls in love. First love is powerful and I don’t fault Baby for falling head over heels for Johnny. Johnny was a mature adult, though, who’s been around the block a few hundred times. He knew the signs of young love and didn’t shy away. In fact, one might make the case that he groomed Baby into falling in love with him and his lifestyle.
Let’s briefly recap. Dr. Houseman takes his family on vacation, where his teenage daughter falls in love with an older man, who seduces her with his swinging hips and lifestyle. His partner has an abortion and Baby’s father is led to believe Castle is responsible. Then, his daughter has sex with this older man. For his worries, dad gets dumped on for wanting his daughter to stay away from Johnny. Did I mention she was a teenager and he was in his late 20s?
When I was a teenager, I thought Dirty Dancing was the coolest movie. I loved the story of a daughter sticking up for herself and moving beyond her father’s shadow to live her own life. Now, as a dad, I sympathize with Baby’s father. He simply wanted to protect his kids. He had his faults, but mostly, he was a good dad.
Even though he disagreed with his daughter’s behavior, he was still supportive of her and said this at the end of the movie, “When I’m wrong, I say I’m wrong. You looked wonderful out there.” However, I don’t think Dr. Houseman was wrong. You got she was a teenager, right?
Also, she wasn’t really in a corner.