Saturday, September 08, 2007

Why I liked High School Musical

When I first heard about this show I was skeptical. In fact I was prepared to dislike it, object to it, villify it, even rail against it. But I was pleasantly surprised.

The first High School Musical came out in February. We missed it. But with High School Musical II coming out soon it was being rerun. The characters were innocent and the theme was one of trying different things- specifically singing and drama for the high school jock and the nerdy scholastic. There is a rich, obnoxious socialite who provides the comic relief.

In contrast to most "teenie bopper" movies the students promote kindness, charity, respect for authority, acceptance of those with unusual or unpopular gifts and talents. Some of the heartwarming themes that illustrate what I mean:

1. When Gabriella (the brain)is invited to join the student decatholon, she demures and says she wants to concentrate on her studies and helping her Mom unpack the house.

2. When Zac shows kindness to an unpopular student, his kindnes is what wins the heart of his future singing partner.

3. When Zac is unkind he repents and asks forgiveness. He is forgiven.

One review I read called it a veritable bachnalia of singing and milk drinking. It's innocence and simplicity has astonished reviewers. Some of whom has made the unfortunate comparison of High School Musical to Grease. Grease it is not. The theme of Grease was compromising your values and changing to be popular. If anything High School Musical is the exact opposite of that.

I'm for anything that promotes charity, especially for high school students.

A final word on the dress of the students. For the most part the dress is respectful and appropriate. There are a few exceptions. In some cases I wish some of the clothes were a bit less tight and the tops a bit higher. Unfortunately in every day life I see far far worse and if the dress of HSM was the worst I ever saw it would be a huge improvement.

Another objection I have heard is that it encourages "dating" and high school romance. In the first HSM the two main characters never have a date. And they do not kiss, though almost. In the second HSM they have lunch on the golf course and sing together some more. And they are juniors in high school. At the completion of the show they do kiss.

The music was lighthearted. The kids were upbeat and enjoying life. You have to remind yourself- this is high school and these are high school students. Any angst is short lived and easily resolved. If only life were this simple. Let's pretend. Like the depression-era musicals enjoy the escapism and optimism.


Lily said...

I agree Mary. I love the first high school musical. Like you I was prepared not to. But I was pleasantly surprised. We have not yet seen the second, well my teenage dd has, but the rest of us have not. We do not have television and will have to wait for the DVD. I'm looking forward to another worry free production. A rare thing these days, indeed. I'm still surprised by how much I need to preview despite the PG or even PG-13 rating. My teens cannot watch anything these days. SIGH. At least this movie, HSM, got it right.

Dymphna (4HisChurch) said...

Grease was the first pg movie my mom let me see. I think I was in 8th grade. My impression? I didn't like how the main character had to change to "get the guy". Just didn't seem like a good message.

Sounds like High School Musical is a good one.

erin is nice said...

i couldn't imagine letting an 8th grader watch grease. it's one of my favorite movies, but definitely adult themed. and the language is not kid-appropriate. i'm actually very surprised it's only rated PG.

my oldest's kindergarten teacher has been playing the HSM soundtrack at rest time, and he loves it. he's been singing the songs for a week.

Jamie Carin and Claudio Romano said...

When I first started teaching I had an 8th grade general music class and at the end of the quarter I let them watch Grease and to this day I feel guilty about it. I hadn't seen it since I was Catholic and thought the sexual content was disgusting. I would definitely not let my 8th grade age child watch it (if I had an 8th grade aged child).

Karen said...

Grease came out when? in 1978? My mother took me to the movies to see it, so I assume it was in new release at the time since that is all they did back then. Uhm, I was NINE yrs old! NINE! What was my mother thinking?? I guess the thing that saved me was that I hadn't a clue what was going on re: the possible pregnancy, etc. I do have fond memories of my best friend and I memorizing the entire album. As far as the HSM's, I have let my kids watch them. I agree with you, Mary.

Edward said...

High School Musical was utter garbage, Mary.
Degenerate in the extreme.
I don't mind letting you know that I am quite shocked at the encomium with which you have promoted it.
Natural virtues aside, can you honestly say that this is the manner in which youth should conduct themselves?
Would you be all at ease if your children did so?
Would their school allow this inane and vacuous behavour?

I don't wich to offend, but until now I have never encountered an item in which we could not possibly be in greater disagreement.

Yet I remain your respectful admirer and supporter.

And now I must get back to reading Pilgrim's Progress.

surgite et coffeam olfacite said...

Enjoy the Anglican book that your reading!!! As long as you stay away from highschool musical you can read anything else right?!?!
I think you're just going to keep yourself bored and compromised.

Anonymous said...

After reading your comment I was quite confused. You talk about hsm being "utter garbage" and "degenerate to the extreme" but you do not mention any specific elements of the movie that would make it deserving of these accusations.


Edward said...


Pilgrim's Progress was written by John Bunyan, a congregationalist. He is as equally condemning of the established Church (Anglican) as of what his society styled "Popery".

And what reason can I give for my deprecation of HSM?
I suppose it is as my wife has always said:
I am indeed a puritan. We still exist, I'm afraid.

God help us all.:)