Dammit Janet

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For the Family Guy episode, see Dammit Janet!.
"Dammit Janet"
Song by Richard O'Brien. Performed by Barry Bostwick, Susan Sarandon from the album The Rocky Horror Picture Show: Music From The Motion Picture
Released 1975
Recorded London
Genre Pop-rock
Language English
Label Ode Records
Writer Richard O'Brien
Composer Richard O'Brien/Richard Hartley
Producer Lou Adler

"Dammit Janet" is a song/musical number in the original 1973 British musical stage production, The Rocky Horror Show as well as its 1975 film counterpart The Rocky Horror Picture Show, book, music and lyrics by Richard O'Brien, musical arrangements by Richard Hartley.

The number provides well known audience participation moments and has entered the pop culture lexicon through the often quoted phrase, "Dammit, Janet!"

Overview[edit]

The first scene of both the stage production and film open to a wedding scene with the two main characters, Brad Majors and Janet Weiss, in attendance. In the motion picture, a repressive Gothic setting, backs up the young couple in their chorus with the "American Gothic" characters themselves.[1] Brad and Janet are portrayed as sexually uptight.[2] The song is performed in this deliberate awkwardness, setting up the characters as naive and innocent. The scene is reminiscent of the opening scene to "Night of the Living Dead". Several comparisons to the latter film with Rocky Horror have been made by authors such as Roberta E. Pearson and Philip Simpson in their book, "Critical Dictionary of Film and Television Theory",[3] as well as J. Hoberman and Jonathan Rosenbaum in the book, "Midnight Movies".[4] Costumes for the two characters in this scene are nearly identical to those of the two main characters from the film "What's Up Doc".

The song is an awkward musical marriage proposal by Brad to Janet, after both have attended the wedding of two high school friends, just before setting off to visit their high school science teacher.[5] The music for the song exaggerates the Rock-N-Roll tendency to repeat simple chord progressions.[6]

The song is in the key of B♭ major.

Musical Number[edit]

Dammit Janet is the second number in the stage production following the prologue, and is performed as a duet. Act One, Scene 1 opens directly to Brad and Janet as they are waving goodbye to newly wedded friends, Ralph and Betty Hapschatt. For the film the exterior location used was an American style small town church. The original film script refers to it as the Denton Catholic Church, but as seen in the final film, it is the Denton Episcopal Church.

A notable aspect of the film production for this number is the cemetery next to the church with a billboard in the distance for comical effect. It depicts a large heart with an arrow through it with the words, "Denton, the Home of Happiness". Brad and Janet stand on opposite sides of the screen with the cemetery in the background and the billboard far in the back, but directly between each character as the song begins.

Beginning in an awkward and uncertain proclamation by Brad that he "Has Something to say". Janet awaits, clutching the bridal bouquet she just caught. In musical rhythm he tells Janet that he really loves "The Skillful Way" she beat the other girls to the bride's bouquet.

He professes his love with metaphors of deep rivers and the future all accompanied by the church staff dressed exactly as characters from the classic painting "American Gothic" by Grant Wood. The back up throughout the stage play was a cast of "Chorus" singers credited as "Phantoms".

The scene in the movie begins to change. As the number progresses, we follow the couple into the church while the caretaker and staff begin to prepare for a funeral. They spin the white flower arrangements around to show that they are black on the other side, and a casket is carried in and placed in front of them just as they kiss.

Reception[edit]

The song is considered to be one of the top "heartfelt" movie moments.[7] Further, the words "Damn it, Janet" are seen as an immortal part of cinematic history.[8][9]

Along with the characters of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, the phrase "Dammit, Janet!" has entered the pop culture lexicon.[10] The phrase has become so ingrained in society that thirty years after first singing the song for the film, American actor Barry Bostwick told an interviewer "For as long as I live, people will be coming up to me and asking me to say, "Dammit, Janet. I love you."[11]

In Pop Culture[edit]

In 1996, the Scottish-rooted band, Choke, released an extended play record entitled Damn It Janet.[12] Four years later, Australian musical artists Pants & Corset released an Audio CD entitled, Dammit Janet.[13] Also in 2000, 20th Century Fox licensed a greeting card featuring the signature lip logo of The Rocky Horror Picture Show on the cover and a picture in the inside of Brad holding Janet and saying, Dammit, Janet! Pull yourself together. It's only a birthday card! Happy Birthday, you... you monster![14] "Dammit Janet!" was also the name of an episode of Family Guy; in which Stewie falls in love with a girl in his preschool class named Janet. Dammit, Janet was also sung on Glee the TV Show.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Biel, Wood, Steven, Grant (2005). American Gothic. W. W. Norton & Company; illustrated edition. p. 54. ISBN 978-0-393-05912-0. 
  2. ^ Peraino, Judith Ann (2005). Listening to the sirens. University of California Press. p. 233. ISBN 978-0-520-21587-0. 
  3. ^ Pearson, Simpson, Roberta, Philip (2000). Critical dictionary of film and television theory. Routledge. p. 152. ISBN 978-0-415-16218-0. 
  4. ^ Hoberman, Rosenbaum, J., Jonathan (1991). Midnight movies. Da Capo Press. p. 1. ISBN 978-0-306-80433-5. 
  5. ^ Levy, Shimon (1998). Theatre and Holy Script. Sussex Academic Press. p. 174. ISBN 978-1-898723-53-0. 
  6. ^ Knapp, Raymond (2006). The American musical and the performance of personal identity. Princeton University Press. p. 246. ISBN 978-0-691-12524-4. 
  7. ^ Berg, Ken (8 February 1991). "Valentine videos; Simmering cinema at home". Orlando Sentinel. p. 16. 
  8. ^ "TV Queen". The Albuquerque Tribune. 28 October 1995. p. 1. 
  9. ^ Silver, Vernon (20 November 1994). "Film; A New Breed of Cult Favorites for a New Generation". New York Times. p. 224.  |chapter= ignored (help)
  10. ^ Scheck, Frank (16 November 2000). "The Rocky Horror Show". The Hollywood Reporter. Volume 365 (Issue 36). p. 10. 
  11. ^ Bonko, Larry (4 July 2003). "Celebrate Independence Day without leaving home". Virginia Pilot and Ledger-Star. p. E1. 
  12. ^ Anderson, Jamie J. (5 January 2001). "Scottish-rooted Choke has come a long way". Orlando Sentinel. p. 15. 
  13. ^ Padilla, David (12 May 2000). "Untitled". The Miami Herald. p. 20S. 
  14. ^ Clark, Mike (6 October 2000). "Let's do the Time Warp -- on DVD.". USA Today. p. 3E. 

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