Yesterday was the tenth anniversary of the first airing of that popular phenomenon from our childhoods, High School Musical. It was such a landmark that the Disney Channel had a special re-airing and got together 5 of the 6 stars of the movie (Zefron was too busy filming something else, but he did input a video message) together for a reunion. I’m posting a YouTube link here so you can watch a clip from it.
Looking back on this iconic movie from my past, it makes me realize that HSM wasn’t as vapid or shallow as people make it out to be. Think about it. I mean, really. Three of the six main character were POCs, and the main romantic couple were multiracial. Ryan Evans was practically an established queer character (check out the bloopers for HSM3 here), and even the background characters have depth and intricacies, like an overweight girl who hip hop dances, or a male basketball player who isn’t afraid to pursue traditionally feminine hobbies, like baking.
But most of all, the movies are just relatable. HSM3 is all about transitioning from childhood to adult life, deciding where to go after high school, which is something absolutely everyone has struggled with. The whole theme of the first film is about challenging social expectations and breaking free of cliques (something the acclaimed Mean Girls touched on, but never really followed through on). One could even argue that the second film is commentary on the meaning of socio-economic status and how it affects people’s stations in life.
And they’re heartwarming. Don’t tell me you can’t watch Troy and Gabriella sing “Breakin’ Free” without squeeing just a little. You must be made of stone. And the acting is good, especially by Disney standards. Ashley Tisdale has fun being a mean girl. And the songs are so catchy (my personal favorite is “Everyday” from the sequel, which you can listen to here).
Is High School Musical targeted at teenage girls?…yes. But so is Buffy The Vampire Slayer, and look how popular that is. Why is there this social stigma that something that’s tailored specifically for teenage girls is immediately stupid? There’s a reason we answer “WILDCATS!” when someone shouts “WHAT TEAM?!” The movies and the lessons we’ve learned from them have stuck with us, even into our adulthood. Not just because of the songs that get stuck in your head. They taught us that it’s okay to be ourselves, that we can be more than a stereotype, that human beings can have layers. That we are all part of a whole body, and no one is wrong or alone. It’s the human condition at its best description. And that, for me, is a very important message indeed. After all…we’re all in this together. ~TRL
Photo cred: here.