This is a post that has been percolating in my mind for sometime now, and, having experienced scorn on other boards for talking about West Side Story, both explicit and implicit, because many people still consider West Side Story only for adolescents, yet have attended screenings of the movie and productions of the play where audiences of almost all ages are present, I have come more and more to believe otherwise. It could be that many people feel that way, because most people, when they pick favorite films, they find something in it that speaks to them right directly, or that they directly identify with for some reason or other, and West Side Story is something that teens supposedly identify with. Having first seen the film when I was still in high school, I can understand why such assumptions are made by so many people, but, when I reached my adulthood, I began to believe more and more that West Side Story is a classic for people of virtually all ages and all walks of life.
West Side Story, to me, when viewed on a great big, wide screen, in a real movie theatre with the lights down low, as it’s meant to be seen, is something that brings people of pretty much all ages together as a community, if temporary, to experience and share the experience of this great film with others who love this film just as much.
Yet, it’s also true that even a beautiful movie/musical classic such as West Side Story also has its detractors; many people, particularly of this generation, who live/work in low income communities where there is much crime, gang violence and racism, who are ordinary citizens, social workers, law enforcement people and mental health councilors who deal with all this in real life, feel that West Side Story hits too close to home for them. Still others feel that West Side Story is only for adolescents, and that anybody who still loves this classic after they’ve gotten out of their teens must be somewhat immature, or even retarded. Other people just simply don’t understand West Side Story at all, while others have issues themselves and can’t deal with other people enjoying something that they don’t enjoy.
Yet, I also believe that such people, when they’re so contemptuous of others who’re different in that way also think very little of themselves, and feel the need to denigrate others to make themselves feel better, or to see how many points they can score with the “cooler” “Kids”. To paraphrase the old adage: “Misery loves company”. It is so true.
On another forum that I post on, I received some excellent advice from a fellow poster:
Screw the cornballs who make fun of me for my love of West Side Story.