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.