The subject of which I am about to deal with may make some readers cringe. However, as a cast member of a High School Musical stage production, I feel obligated to weigh in on the debate surrounding the franchise. Some people will say that the two movies (High School Musical and High School Musical 2) deserve to be remembered as painfully commercial attempts to generate revenue for Disney. I know a large number of people who believe that the films should be treated with much disdain because of their low quality and intense pop culture influence. Some even go as far as to say that the movies are so influenced by formula writing that they draw shame to the genre of musical theatre. I however have a somewhat different outlook on the situation. This is a position that has taken me over a year to establish and could still change. However, the following is how I feel about the Disney giant known henceforth as HSM.
Amongst my circle of friends and acquaintances I know many people from both camps. Many from the “I love HSM” group and many from the “I hate HSM and want to poke my eyes out everytime I see it” group. To be honest, I can see both sides of this argument. However, the one commonality between the two camps is knowledge of the show. It seems that regardless of whether you claim to hate or love the show, both extremes are able to essentially recite the show to one another. This is what I find so interesting about the whole debate. It seems that whether you want to hear about it or not, HSM is just a fact of life in the year 2007. With action figures, stage productions, clothing, CDs and spin-off shows, it is impossible to avoid HSM mania. As for me, I can’t really say that I have bought into the whole “mania” aspect of the show, but I will say this. I LOVE HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL! There, I said it! That was one of the hardest things I have ever had to write. I may not live through the next few days, depending on who reads this, but it really feels good to say that.
Now, let me explain the above comment. I do love High School Musical. That is a fact, something that will not change, but also something that requires a bit of explaining. For example, the confusion should begin soon. I do not love all of the music in HSM. Most of it is formulaic, cheesy and over the top. I do not think that the acting is very good. In fact, most of it is awful, terrible even. And come on, do we really have to mention the fact that the entire first movie is a rip off of Grease meets Romeo and Juliet? So, if I don’t like the things mentioned above, what is it exactly that I like about HSM? Well, let me explain. HSM is a phenomenon, it has inspired millions of adults and kids alike to take an interst in music and dance. The show has reached even the most skeptical of skeptics and has drawn attention back to music theatre. I admire the producers of this show for having the guts to produce such utterly horrific material because in doing so, they have created a whole new generation of musical theatre lovers. Many people in the musical theatre industry could be accused of being traditionalists, but lately it has been proven that musicals can still succeed. All it took was someone to write a musical that fit the interests of today’s society. The impact of HSM has been felt across the world as more children enroll in music, dance and acting lessons in hopes of someday being like their heroes in HSM. It has also encouraged parents to involve their children in a wider variety of activities including the arts, to allow them the opportunity to make their own choices.
Another aspect of HSM that I admire is the fact that it seems to be just plain fun, for anyone who watches it. Whether you love it or hate it, I don’t think anyone can say that they didn’t enjoy watching either of the movies. Many people just simply enjoy watching the movies because they buy into the contrived cheesiness that makes up an HSM movie. Others however swear that they hate the show with such passion that you don’t know whether they will ever be happy again. The interesting thing about these people is that they probably smiled, laughed and enjoyed themselves watching the movie just as much as the die hard fans. Maybe it is the sarcastic and caustic side of human nature, but it seems that people enjoy being critical just as much as they enjoy being positive. I have watched many people claiming to hate the show, watch it with such happiness and laughter that I don’t know how they could have developed such a hate. The god honest truth is that as human beings, we enjoy criticism. The fact that HSM is so easy to criticize gives everyone the opportunity to give their two cents. So I guess my point is that the creators of HSM should be commended for creating plain old fun. So next time you are enjoying yourself by blasting HSM, take a minute and thank it for providing you with your joy!