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Tuesday, August 28, 2007

High School Musical, please explain

by Jennifer Squires Biller

Dear TV aficionados,

I’m willing to risk your mocking and hate mails to admit this one secret. I don’t understand the mass appeal of High School Musical. In short, I don’t get it.

Making this admission in a world where everyone else is singing the songs from High School Musical, having High School Musical theme parties, and lusting after the film’s star, Zac Efron, is a scary prospect. I feel like an outsider back in high school, watching all the cool kids, and I’m the only one who doesn’t get the joke.

Go ahead and fit me for geek glasses and a pocket protector, but I’m not afraid to stand up and ask the question: Has everyone gone mad?

I tried watching High School Musical, after my hip teenaged cousin, Sabra, told me it was Grease for today’s generation. A modern-day Grease? I was sold. Sabra loaned me her precious DVD copy, and armed with a bowl of hot, buttery popcorn and my laptop, I hit play.

From the initial karaoke bar scene, I was — to put it mildly — underwhelmed. I was expecting wildly entertaining songs that I couldn’t get out of my head, such as Summer Nights, You’re the One that I Want, and Look at me, I’m Sandra Dee. Um, that didn’t happen. Even the characters seemed cardboard, not full of life like Danny, Sandy, and Rizzo.

Apparently, the rest of the world knows something I don’t. There is no other explanation for the cult-like following for this franchise. A couple weeks ago, the Disney Channel aired the second installment of the movie, aptly titled High School Musical 2. It attracted a stunning 17.2 million viewers, making it the most-watched basic-cable broadcast ever.

Is the viewing public so desperate for a decent musical that they’ll tune in for anything that has singing and dancing?

I suspect the answer is simpler: I’m old. Yes, the frightening truth is that I probably just don’t get it because I’m past the age of wearing tube tops and baby-doll dresses. I’ve moved on to Spanx, and apparently my musical tastes have matured, too.

Still, I wrestle with the fact that I can’t seem to enjoy a show that the rest of the world worships. It keeps me up at night. So, someone, please explain the fascination with High School Musical. Otherwise, I think I’ll purchase a walker and head off to the nursing home.


Tim said...

I'm with you, TTG...I don't get it...but I think there is something we can learn from this phenomenon

The problem with our culture right now is that we're too willing to accept style over substance. And it's worse with the generations coming up behind us (insert line about "those meddling kids" here).

Music, movies, television...even sports. Flash sells. Quality counts for nothing.

We've really lowered our standards, and we've become a homogenized society. Everybody shops at the same box stores (Target, Pier 1, Ikea). So everyone has the same stuff, nobody's original or unique, and it's all suburban, white-bread crap.

Enter High School Musical. Pretty faces, bright sets, catchy pop tunes. It's as white-bread as they come.

Your cool little Sabra has no frame of reference. She didn't live Grease. She's seen it on TNT or AMC, where it's just another movie. She can't possibly know how cool it was/is. If I had to guess, she probably owns a Jesse McCartney cd, doesn't she? Or maybe Ryan Cabrera.

The other contributing factor to her lack of understanding is a little more complex. Our generation has done it to ourselves. We don't have enough reverence for our iconic movies and TV shows. Look what we did to The Dukes of Hazzard. We take classics and turn them into camp. Then we scratch our heads and wonder how someone could possibly compare High School Musical to something like Grease (not to mention Grease 2 - another classic, and I'll fight anyone who disagrees).

Back to the white-bread crap, kudos to the folks at Disney. They've played it perfectly. High School Musical, Hannah Montana...they're like a giant suburban brain-washing center.

If not getting it or, more accurately, not liking it makes me a geek, I say bring on the pocket protector!

tube talk girl said...

Pocket protectors unite!

I'm not sure about Sabra's musical selections, but (*sheepishly grinning*) I actually downloaded a couple Jesse McCartney and Ryan Cabrera songs. Call me a sell out. I don't care. I love "Beautiful Soul." There, I've stripped myself of my last ounce of dignity.

I agree about the lack of reverence for our iconic TV shows and movies. It frustrates me every time I see that they're remaking one of them because I know the camp is coming. (See previous post about what they're going to do to Dallas.) I've been clamoring for a Magnum P.I. movie for years, with the real Tom Selleck. But, I fear that if Hollywood gets ahold of it, the franchise is forever ruined. (I don't care if Selleck is older. He could still play a mature Magnum.)

Grease 2 a classic? Tim, that's an argument we have to have at a later time.

big tuna said...

I think going into it thinking it was a modern-day Grease was the problem. If you take that out of the equation, you probably could have enjoyed it. Probably...

Kellie said...

Hey, I'll defend HSM. It's a great movie. It's clean, wholesome, a love story...I could go on. I loved it. Now HSM2, that's a different story.

Tim said...

There's the other problem. Wholesome. Translation: sappy.

Of course, I think our real problem here, TTG, is that we aren't the target demographic. We're about twenty *cough cough* years too old.

Jesse McCartney and Ryan Cabrera? I hope you feel appropriately ashamed of yourself. I, however, still have my dignity. Until somebody discovers the Hillary Duff cd's under my car seat.

By the way, I got caught up in my outrage earlier. I meant to ask you, did you really used to wear a tube top?

Just curious ;)

tube talk girl said...

Tim, Hillary Duff? Tsk. Tsk.

You have no room to mock my Jesse M. then, or Sabra's musical tastes, whatever they may be. Your Hillary admission puts you in the same "whitebread" sell-out class as my Jesse love puts me.

And yes, I had a yellow tube top and a red one and a couple baby doll dresses. Ah, I miss the '80s.

Dan said...

Jen, I don't think I can explain. It's like one of those movies you either love or hate. (i.e. Pulp Fiction.)

You're right that part of it is your age. You are definitely not the targeted demo.

But, hey, some of us actually like sappy. The Notebook. I rest my case.

Anonymous said...

HSM is fun and uplifting. It makes you feel good, and the lyrics are ones you can sing to, ones that get stuck in your head. I think that's its appeal.

I can't wait to see HSM: The Ice Tour. All those dance moves, all of that singing and choreographed moves done on ice... Now that's going to be a fun time. And it's something lots of ages can appreciate. It's not something parents will hate or little kids can't get into.

highschoolmuscialtheicetour.com Just look at the website and listen to the music. It makes you feel good!

Melanie said...

I"ma 30-something woman and I enjoyed HSM the first one, not the second. I agree that the second was awful.

I'm not sure TTG why you didn't like it. Perhaps it's because you were expecting Grease. And perhaps b/c there was no yummy guy like Travolta or Kevin Bacon (think Footloose.) Zac Efron is too young for us! :)

Tim said...

HSM on Ice?!?! Good lord, there's no need for that. :)

TTG, I was merely kidding about Hilary Duff. Sarcasm isn't for everyone, I guess. :)

I guess I'm really outnumbered on this issue. Is Tube Talk turning into a haven for wholesomeness?? Ugh!

TTG, I miss the 80's too. Let's peg our jeans and flip our collars up. Unless you want to pull out the tube top. In which case I'll throw on my mesh muscle shirt and my painters cap.

tube talk girl said...

OK, Tim, yes the sarcasm is soemtimes lost in the written word! I'll send you some Hillary Duff CDs to make up for my obvious lack of sense. :)

But, please tell me you truly do have a muscle shirt and a painters cap somewhere. LOL I can't get that image out of my mind.

I cannot bring myself to even comment on HSM on ice. I think (hope) it must be a joke.

LOL at "flipped up collars" and pegged jeans. Tell me, do you have a Trans Am stored somewhere so we can relive our youth?

Tim said...

I have a black Trans Am with t-tops, I like to ride around listening to my Night Ranger tapes at full blast. I also have a gold Jeep just like The Fall Guy's. I'm ready to go cruising nytime you are, TTG.

I do have a mesh muscle shirt and a painters cap. And if you're lucky I'll put on my fingerless gloves. Anybody know where I can get a feather earring like Mr. T's?

I'll be waiting on my Hilary Duff cd's.

Becky said...

I loathe High School Musical! My little sister loves it. She has the sound track and I have to listen to it 24/7. It drives me insane!

I agree with Tim all the way. Grease is a classic. Cheesy Disney characters should be punished for even thinking they can be compared to the classic characters of Danny, Sandy, and Rizzo. Even worse, I heard that Zac Efron is going to be playing Kevin Bacon's character in the up coming Footloose movie. I shouted out in rage when I heard.

PS In Sabra's music defense, being her best friend and all, I don't know what happen with High School Musical. It is her only musical flaw. Both of us listen to '80s music. As said by Tube Talk Girl, WE LOVE THE '80S!

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