In light of High School Musical’s 10th anniversary, I decided to watch the movie for the first time in what feels like forever. And while I was singing along to the music that I’ve come to love over the years, I found myself having the same reaction that I do to most Hallmark movies. You know… the “I can’t believe I used to find this adorable” thing.
In both Hallmark and Disney movies, one thing will almost certainly happen: a goody too-shoes or whatever will be pitted against some “viper” who seems absolutely horrid. And, the goody too-shoes will undoubtedly win.
You know what? I find this harmful in a myriad of ways.
The first is that it promotes the idea that a girls can only fall on one of a spectrum. Be smart and sweet and likable or be that other thing. The person other people can’t stand. Guess what? I know plenty of other females that have the brains and not the personality. And I know plenty of females that come off as rude but can be plenty sweet. Gabriella and Sharpay represent the two extremes of a spectrum, and like any spectrum, there is room for everything. Yet, I don’t see that within the rest of the cast.
The movie portrays ambition as a bad thing if you’re a certain type. I mean, it’s all okay for Gabriella to be smart and correct a teacher and want that decathlon. But it wasn’t okay for Sharpay to want the lead role. Because she’s her and she’s meant to be unlikable.
I think what I find even worse about the high school musical movies is that everyone but Sharpay grows as a character. By the end of the third movie everyone has discovered what they wanted, and all she wanted was what she wanted at the beginning – to be at the top and with Troy. Even if she seemingly detested him. What. Even.?
The movie is cute when it wants to be. I’ll give it that. It shows friendship, bravery, mistakes. The consequences of such mistakes. But I’m afraid with how it portrays its characters, I won’t be bopping it back to the top anytime soon.
Any thoughts? Feeling combative? Let me know in the comments.