Friday, October 24, 2008

Countdown to HSM: Top 10 Best Things About High School Musical

10. Ryan's HSM3 doll wears a kilt
Becky: The costumes throughout HSM are pretty good -- except Kelsi's in the second movie, I think perhaps she ran over the costumer's dog or something -- but the best thing ever is actually on a doll. Ryan Evans, at least in plastic form, wears a KILT.
Jess: Why a kilt? Who cares! I, for one, hope this is a sign of a future HSM/DuckTales crossover, where Ryan and Scrooge McDuck go back to McDuck Castle in Scotland to have high campy adventures.
(Kilt picture from Molly.)

9. The homoerotic nonsense that is the Suite Life HSM episode
Jess: Okay, Suite Life is basically terrible, but for some reason the repeated joke of Maddie (Ashley Tisdale) insisting that she looks just like Sharpay (Ashley Tisdale) and no one else believing her makes me crack up. Other enjoyable things: the ludicrous casting of fey little Slightly Better Sprouse as the slightly less fey Troy, "Floss: The Musical," and the use of a plot point from Singin' in the Rain, which you might have noticed I'm rather partial to.
Becky: I just like to think about the cross-dimensional aspect it brings to Disney. Miley Cyrus -- a real person -- appears in HSM2, so that puts those two in the same universe; but Hannah Montana appears on the Suite Life so that puts those two in the same world; but the Suite Life performs HSM, so...HUH? The pandimensionality is broken! HSM actually broke the universe!

8. Jump In
Becky: It's only fair that if we blame HSM for Camp Rock, we credit it for Corbin's movie, right? And while Jump In is hilariously bad, it's also adorable, and it's Corbin at his best -- playing smug, dancing, and telling a coming out story.
Jess: Did you know boys can double dutch? Thanks to Corbin, I now know they totally can!

7. As bad as the musical aspects are, the return of musicals to mainstream
Becky: Kids are eating the musical thing up, even though what they're being given is bad. SURELY movie makers will eventually catch on and start making GOOD movie musicals, right?
Jess: Oh God. That is my beautiful, beautiful dream. Hold me, Becky!

6. The fact that every little girl I know knows the "All In This Together" dance
Jess: The very first time I saw HSM, my sister jumped up during the finale and did the "We're All in This Together" dance. I've seen kids I substitute for do it, kids at the Disney Store do it, kids on the street do it. It's not brilliant or anything, but heck, anything that makes the world more like a musical is okay in my book
Becky: In fairness, though, Jess and I have been the people doing the dance in the Disney Store. Uh, it may be mildly less charming when it's a couple of 20-somethings. Especially if one of them is me. (Zac Efron and I are comparable dancers.)

5. The launching of Lucas Grabeel's career (hopefully)
Jess: Lucas is the only - I repeat, the only good actor in the first HSM, and remains the best in HSM2. He's the strongest singer in the cast (God, his voice!), and just behind Corbin in dancing. And he is completely adorable. Please let this boy become wildly famous, gods of the universe. Please.
Becky: As the shallow one, I feel obligated add: Lucas isn't exactly hard on the eyes, either. If anyone deserves to get out of this franchise alive, it's him.

4. The ultimate message: it's totally cool to be who you are, no one has to live in a single little box, and we should embrace our differences and still be BFF
Becky: HSM has been referred to as a new generation's Grease, but there's one major difference. At the end of Grease, Sandy gives up on who she is and what she believes in so she can get the dreamy boy (at least, if you're willing to believe Travolta is dreamy). So to give credit where it's due, HSM is much better -- if for nothing else than because at the end, it's all about being true to who you are.
Jess: We refer here to the first movie, of course - the message of the second movie seems to be "Don't do drugs, because you'll turn orange and start seeing giant clocks and crazy girls in wedding dresses and stuff."

3. Gabriella's understated independence
Jess: Vanessa's no great shakes as an actress, and I went into HSM2 not liking Gabriella very much at all. That changed when I saw her behavior towards Troy.
Becky: I'm now going to project my own issues wildly onto Gabi. See, when I was in high school, I had a boyfriend who I was desperately, passionately in love with, and he with me. Except he was extremely jealous and possessive, and as a direct result, I was miserable for well over a year. But I didn't get why, or what I could do about it -- hey, I was 15. And when the thought did flicker through my mind that maybe I would be happier without him, I was overwhelmed by guilt: I loved him, why wasn't that enough? He'd feel awful if we broke up; I couldn't do that to him.

So it actually means a lot to me to see Gabi as a role model for girls in the second movie. Because Troy is a complete tool, and blows her off, and treats her really badly. And she breaks up with him, because she knows that she deserves to be happy. Their exchange in "Gotta Go My Own Way" is actually really brilliant in that regard. She knows what's right, and she does it. She doesn't need Troy to be happy. And yes, that is what I want girls to see on TV.

Also, when refusing to buy into Sharpay's games, her disgusted delivery of, "What's the prize, Troy?" is pretty much accidental genius.

2. An ethnically and visually varied cast
Jess: Oh, and hey, speaking of good role models, how about a Latina heroine (Vanessa's multiracial but Gabi seems to be straight-up Latina, not that it matters) and two interracial couples (Troy/Gabi and Sharpay/Zeke, if the latter counts as a couple)? That's pretty cool. I hear Martha gets to be head cheerleader in HSM3, as well - that's pretty freaking awesome, even if KayCee kind of gives me a headache.
Becky: HSM actually as a cast that isn't 100% caucasian, heterosexual, and skinny. That shouldn't be an accomplishment, but you know what? It is. Let's hope the rest of TV follows.

1. Ryan Evans
Becky: We snark about how incredibly, mind-bogglingly gay Ryan is a lot on this blog. We have an entire category dedicated to it. And -- okay, we mostly do it because it's funny. But the punchline isn't, "Heh, heh, he's gay." The punchline is that Disney, a corporation not exactly known for taking progressive stances, has provided a beloved, respected, positively-portrayed character, who happens to be flamingly gay. And has aimed this character to kids -- kids who are still forming opinions on what is normal and socially-acceptable behavior. And I want to live in a world where no one thinks real kids who happen to be like Ryan Evans are anything but normal.
Jess: Yes, Disney will tell you that they're not dealing with sexuality in these movies and jump through endless verbal hoops to keep from admitting that Ryan is gay. And yeah, it really, really sucks that they can't just have him be gay and have that be the end of it (let alone let him have a love interest. I mean, outside of "I Don't Dance"). But hey. Ryan Evans loves what he does and who he is. Everyone should have a role model like that.

We'll be seeing the movie at a late showing tonight and will likely fall down exhausted as soon as we get home. So our review will be up at some point tomorrow. In the mean time, though, enjoy the best number from the franchise so far. (Will it be topped? We shall see tonight!)


Tessa said...

Hey guys!
I'm not entirely sure you'll get this, since this post was written months ago. BUT. I felt compelled to write nonetheless.
First off: I'm currently writing a research paper on the subject of gay characters in mainstream film - I stumbled across your blog when I found it linked in another article I was reading about the High School Musical character Ryan Evans. Your comments on him are awesome and this blog really helped me - I'm so excited to "out" Ryan in my paper. The Disney executives can suck it... how could ANYONE think that his character isn't flamingly gay? Of course, it only serves as more reason to love him (he's by far my favorite HSM character - good god someone give the fabulously talented Lucas Grabeel a star vehicle already).
Second: If you can't already tell, I am a closet HSM fan, and I can't say how must these posts have entertained me the last few days as I searched for more info.
Your posts are witty, intelligent, and, most importantly, coincide quite wonderfully with my opinions on the HSM franchise. I actually found myself laughing out loud at stuff you've written, which means you automatically get 10 gold stars in my book.
Thanks for a great read.
Best regards,
Tessa J.
Please tell me you've seen this and found as many wtf?!? moments as I did:

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