Bye Birdie Research Paper

748 Words 3 Pages
It is easy to pinpoint American stereotypes of the 1950s and 1960s. Rock n’roll, big hair and skirts, and the clean-cut American family were typical, and rock superstars populated the airwaves. One of the early pioneers of American rock n’roll was Elvis Presley, a young, innovative crooner whose hip-thrusts jumpstarted an industry. This new industry so popular that it became the basis of a new American musical, Bye Bye Birdie, written by Michael Stewart with lyrics by Lee Adams and music by Charles Strouse. This musical created the foundations for a movie adaptation written three years later, starring Dick Van Dyke of the original Broadway production and Ann-Margret. The show’s quick jump from stage-to-screen filled the need to create a version …show more content…
With thrusting hips, a deep, sexual tone, and greased dark hair, Birdie is an Elvis Presley clone, and is intended to be so. In fact, Presley was originally approached for the role, but declined since his agents thought that playing roles that appeared to be making fun of himself would damage Elvis’ image (Susman 1). Conrad even performs on the Ed Sullivan show on which Elvis was famous for performing, since he could only be filmed from the waist-up due to his “overly-sexual” dance moves (Elvis Australia News 1). However, while Conrad has the teenage girls of Sweet Apple, Ohio groveling at his feet, his character is intended to have the musical-viewing audience doubled over at his minimal lines of dialogue and seemingly absent intellect. This is even more true in the movie musical version of the show, where Birdie says even less dialogue than in the stage version. He is merely a sex symbol with little depth. Compared to the stage show, the Bye Bye Birdie movie takes the song “A Lot of Livin’ to Do” and uses it to make Conrad appear even more sexual than he already had and having it rub off on Kim and the other Sweet Apple teens, incorporating new lines such as “daddy won’t know his daughter” and talk about drinking champagne (Brecher, Bye Bye Birdie). Conrad’s sexuality and lack of genuine concern is a new connection in terms of American folk art; while

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