27/04/2014

Why I Miss High School Musical




I remember the first time I laid eyes on a copy of High School Musical on DVD. I was in sixth form, a lot older than the target audience of the movie at the time, lazing about in my Film Studies class (which by the way, neither contributed to my knowledge of film nor an understanding of it – instead I now critically analyse the cinematography of every damn movie I see).

A fellow student sitting behind me was discussing a new, hugely popular Disney Channel film that everyone was talking about. “The guy in it is sooooo hot,” she professed; and that was all I needed to hear. Whipping my head around, I grabbed the DVD from the table. “What’s this then?” “High School Musical,” she replied. “You can borrow it after these two have finished with it.” I glimpsed at the cover, unsure as to what I’d just got myself into. Six kids caught in mid-air, ginormous smiles, Disney-appropriate multiculturalism – what are we, 8 years old? It looked like a cross between Footloose and an incredibly cheese encrusted Grease. WHY WERE THEY ALL SO HAPPY?!

(Note: I was a 17 year old, bleak and emotionally unbalanced teenager. Cut me some slack.)

For those of you that have been living in a hole these past few years, High School Musical tells the story of Troy Bolton and his team of Wildcats at East High School in Albuquerque. During the Christmas holidays, Troy meets the beautiful and talented (subject to opinion) Gabriella Montez, and after a night of passionate….erm, singing, she disappears from his world only to end up miraculously transferring to his school. However, with Gabi and T-Biz being from two different cliques, the two find it hard to maintain their love-fest until the they try out for the Spring Musicaaal (as Ms Darbus duly says), and the status-quo is flipped upside down. The three movies follow the friends as they sing and dance through their final years of high school, teaching us all along the way that we should ‘be who we want to be’ *dances on a cloud*.


Because that’s what life is all about, isn’t it kids? Believing in oneself, not giving a shit about what others think, doing what you want because it’s your life and you’re in control of it. Right? Well, no, it isn’t; but that’s exactly why movies such as High School Musical need to exist. Unfortunately for us, we live in a day and age where children receive most of their information, ideas and morals from the media. As much as parents attempt to control and filter the data that their children get through the internet and television, it’s practically impossible to monitor everything that’s going to come into contact with them; if they’re going to watch a TV  movie, at least let it be worthy of their time. Let it give them something, communicate something encouraging to them in addition to entertaining through song, dance and humour.  I’m not stating there is anything wrong with pointless cartoons, for I like Batman and The Powerpuff Girls as much as the next kid (despite not actually being a kid anymore), but this generation is watching television more than any other and sometimes, young minds need something more than just slapstick. High School Musical may be cheesy, filled with terribly catchy songs, theatrical dance moves and overdramatic acting, but it’s funny. It’s cute. It’s modern. It’s entertaining. It’s uplifting. And it’s significant.

I’m going to take a step back and imagine that I was 10 years old when the movie emerged; what would I have received from it (aside from peeing my mini-self at the sight of Zac Efron)? Be loyal to the people you love. Stay true to yourself. Don’t change for others. Step out of your comfort zone. Believe in yourself. Friendship is more important than status or being popular. Oh, and it’s okay if you like making crème bruleé. Or playing the cello. Or dancing to hip-hop, because believe it or not, you’re allowed to have more than one hobby at school. Of course, the High School Musical movies aren't the place to go searching for the real life troubles of teenagehood such as pregnancy, premarital sex, drugs or gun violence, but that’s something I believe should be left for the likes of Skins and Degrassi; HSM's depiction of high school is undoubtedly sugar-coated fiction, and yet many of the problems Troy and his friends face are genuine; pressures of being accepted, struggling with college choices and relationship break ups are all part of the high school experience and for some can be considerably significant moments in their lives.


I know many people are going to read this and think “okay, so if Disney is so great, why do the majority of child stars wind up in rehab?” The reality is, the media is a cruel place. It can be demeaning, overbearing, and pressure-ridden, even for the toughest and most level-headed of adults. Amanda Bynes, Lindsay Lohan, Demi Lovato, Miley Cyrus and Britney Spears are all prime examples of what happens when children are planted into the spotlight and bombarded with all the pressures of fame and fandom at a young age. When I discovered that Zac Efron was admitted to rehab for drugs, I was upset but not shocked. Not because he is a former Disney star, but because he’s an actor. He exists in a world fuelled by hard work, late nights, parties and women – it’s not surprising that the guy dabbled with the hard stuff. In reality, no one really knows why child stars nose-dive into alcohol and drugs. Maybe they’re trying to shed their squeaky-clean images? Maybe it’s psychological problems that started way before they hit the screens? I think it’s easy to blame Disney, but these kids have parents, right? Anyway, I'm digressing - this is a whole different article altogether.

Ultimately, I don’t believe there has existed a Disney Channel movie that proved as successful and influential since High School Musical, and I highly doubt there ever will be. Although I have seen Camp Rock multiple times, something prevents me from connecting to the characters the way I did with the Wildcats. Maybe it’s because I’m (still) ridiculously in love with Zac Efron, maybe it’s because I have followed their journey through three feature length films. We’re basically family, right? Either way, I’m grateful to Disney for creating such encouraging and progressive movies, and for knowing when to stop *cough* Bring It On 3?! *cough*. Despite being 24, I still find that I can sit down and watch all three movies without cringing at Troy bouncing around a golf field screaming “BET ON IT!” Maybe it’s because I’ll always be a child at heart, but maybe there’s something in there that the adults can take home with them too. 

Oh and just for fun, here's a gif of Zac Efron to display how much he's.....developed over the years.
UHH.




xox

3 comments:

  1. So proud your apart of our wildcat family! Love you! (As a friend i guess,or a fellow fangirl)

    ReplyDelete
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