Science Fiction Frames: Don’t Dream It

Be it.

Imagine this: a show, a midnight movie, a collage, a bricolage of recycled pastiche camp stitching together tropes from science fiction, horror, and musical theatre about an alien transvestite disguised as a sex god Dr. Frankenstein building a muscleman monster.

This is 1975’s The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

Is there a more theatrically magnetic work of science fiction? Why have generations of fans evolved a subculture of participatory camp? Sure, Stormtrooper costumes are available at Target and on parade in ticket lines. But Star Wars cosplay ain’t got nothing on Rocky Horror fandom. By comparison, Star Wars is as square as your dad’s record collection.

What about Rocky Horror so successfully crosses the fourth wall every Saturday? Perhaps it is the exhortation of the movie itself, the plea Frank-n-Furter sings to us:

“Give yourself over to absolute pleasure. Swim the warm waters of sins of the flesh — erotic nightmares beyond any measure, and sensual daydreams to treasure forever. Can’t you just see it? Don’t dream it, be it.”

And that’s the actual science fiction double feature — the dream and the making it real. That’s our mission. Alas, Dr. Frank-N-Furter’s sensual approach was too much for his alien overlords and he was called home. But we can’t knock him for trying, for being the dream.


This piece is part of Science Fiction Frames: a series of incisive analyses, thoughtful meditations, wild theories, close readings, and speculative leaps jumping off from a single frame of a science fiction film or television show. If you would like to contribute to the series or learn more, email us at imagination@asu.edu.

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