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‘The Great Gatsby’ should be the new ‘Rocky Horror Picture Show’

Twelve hours after surviving the cultural desecration that is “The Great Gatsby,” it hit me: Baz Luhrmann’s movie version could be the next “Rocky Horror Picture Show.”

I first saw “Rocky Horror” at the Tivoli Theater in St. Louis 30 years ago. Three friends and I from a neurotically strict Christian boarding school ventured to the Loop and joined a midnight crowd of Transylvanian transsexuals. For a kid who thought drinking coffee was a sin, it was a pretty shocking night. I’d never seen anything like it — on or off the stage: obscene retorts, dancing in the aisles, flying toast. It was all fantastic.

I know, Luhrmann’s “Gatsby” doesn’t have the music or the jokes or Tim Curry in a bustier, but, damn it, Janet, a new generation of teens needs this!

Here’s a start: just the beginnings of an outline for audience participation. Feel free to add to this script in the comments section. (Keep it clean, folks.)

At the party when Gatsby reveals himself to Nick by saying, “I’m Gatsby,” answer back, “Will.I.Am!”

Whenever that servant from “The Munsters” tells Gatsby, “Chicago is on the line,” yell, “I told you never to call me here!”

When Gatsby runs around his closet tossing shirts down on Daisy, ask, “Who gives a shirt?”

Every time Gatsby says, “Old sport,” spritz the air with Old Spice cologne and yell, “Hello, ladies!”

Every time the faded billboard of Dr. T. J. Eckleburg appears, ask, “What you lookin’ at, four eyes?”

Whenever you see the light at the end of Daisy’s dock, use your Kermit voice to sing, “It’s not easy being green.”

When Meyer Wolfsheim shows Nick his tie pin made from a human molar, exclaim, “My, what big teeth you have!”

Every time you see Myrtle, call her “Yertle the Turtle.”

When Nick says, “No amount of fire or freshness can challenge what a man will store up in his ghostly heart,” jump up and surprise him: “Boo!”

Every time Daisy speaks, yell, “Her voice is full of money!” and throw Monopoly bills at the screen.

When Gatsby tells Nick, “Can’t repeat the past? Why of course you can,” sing, “Let’s do the time warp again!”

When Wilson shoots Gatsby, the right side of the theater should yell, “I shot my baby with a bang, bang!” When Wilson kills himself, the left side of the theater should answer, “My baby shot me down again!”

At the end when Nick intones, “So we beat on…,” yell, “Stop that — you’ll go blind!”


See you at the theater. I’ll be the guy in the pink suit.



Ron Charles is the editor of The Washington Post's Book World. For a dozen years, he enjoyed teaching American literature and critical theory in the Midwest, but finally switched to journalism when he realized that if he graded one more paper, he'd go crazy.



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Ron Charles · May 24, 2013

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