"High School Musical" Gives an Outstanding Message About Acceptance by Teenagers

High School Musical – 3 Stars (Good)

The Disney Channel had to be beside itself with the premiere broadcast in January 2006 of “High School Musical” which was its most successful made-for-television movie up to that time with 7.7 million viewers.

In addition to its commercial success High School Musical is an even bigger artistic success with an outstanding message about acceptance by teenagers in today’s world.

This movie represents everything that is right about today’s teenagers. We see quality athletes, quality academic students, quality relationships and personal growth which leads to right thinking, right motives and right actions at the appropriate time.

All of this happens in a movie that is rated G, not PG, PG-13, R or NC-17. Can you appreciate how rare it is to see a G-rated movie that is not an animated film?

Millions of parents and adults are so sick and tired of seeing teenagers involved with filthy language, sexual gymnastics, drug use, murder, rape, mayhem and evil doing.

Hollywood says they only make these films because it is what moviegoers want to see; it really gives you an insight into just how permissive, warped and out of touch they are with mainstream America.

Having said that let me gush about High School Musical and the quality direction by Kenny Ortega and quality writing by Peter Barsocchini, who sends an excellent message about acceptance that every teen struggles with growing up.

A New Year’s Eve party brings Troy Bolton (Zac Efron) and Gabriella Montez (Vanessa Anne Hudgens) together. While they are singing karaoke together they discover their love for music and interest in each other.

Gabriella, a very bright student, comes to a new school and rediscovers Troy, a jock and star of the basketball team. When Troy and Gabriella become fast friends they win a callback during the school musical auditions. Teen drama queen Sharpay Evans (Ashley Tisdale) and her brother Ryan (Lucas Grabeel) are upset as they have been the lead in the past 17 school plays.

When Troy’s basketball teammates realize he has auditioned for the musical and is neglecting his duties as team captain, and Gabriella’s teammates on the academic team realize she has become friends with Troy, members of both teams conspire to break up their friendship.

When both Troy and Gabriella’s performances slip dramatically and are obviously distraught because they are only trying to break out of their expected roles, their teammates confess to the conspiracy to break-up their friendship.

The conspiracy is led by Chad Danforth (Corbin Bleu), Troy’s best friend and basketball teammate, and Taylor McKessie (Monique Coleman), Gabriella’s friend and leader of the school’s Science Club that competes in the scholastic decathlon. Monique Coleman went on to compete in the popular series Dancing With the Stars.

Sharpay and brother Ryan know that Troy and Gabriella are real competition for their usual position on stage and set about to disrupt the callback by getting their drama teacher Alyson Reed, an even bigger drama queen, to change the time of the callback to interfere with Troy’s championship basketball game and Gabriella’s scholastic decathlon.

Troy helps his team win the championship, and Gabriella helps her team win the scholastic decathlon. Both of them make the callback and get the lead role in the play even though all three events occur at the same time. You will have to see the film to understand how their basketball and scholastic teammates devise a plan to make it happen.

By being themselves and having the courage to try something new, both Troy and Gabriella motivate their classmates to try new interests.

High School Musical is about a diverse school population that takes diversity to a better place. Instead of focusing solely on the issue of diversity writer Peter Barsocchini ignores the trite, obvious issues of color of skin, size of bodies and good looks and builds around an even more important point: acceptance when being different.

Perhaps we can now move on to not being so concerned that two African American coaches were opponents in the most recent Super Bowl, and just concentrate on the game and players. Maybe we can move on beyond everything being viewed from a racial perspective.

Maybe we can truly examine the issue of acceptance and other important issues in the lives of our teenage children rather than focusing on the fact that where acceptance does not exist that it must be race related.

High School Musical shows teenagers being devious, screwing up, fessing up to messing up, feeling remorse, doing something constructive to make it right, and everyone one being a better person in the end, even our drama queen Sharpay and brother Ryan.

More than 600 auditioned for the movie and Vanessa Anne Hudgens had to compete with 12 others for the role of Gabriella; she and the other girls danced and sang all day to win the role.

High School Musical was the working title for the film and was used when post-production came because a better name had not surfaced. Andrew Seeley’s voice was dubbed in for Zac Efron.

Seeley composed and sang “Get’cha Head in the Game” which was nominated for an Emmy. Composer Jamie Houston’s “Breaking Free” was nominated for an Emmy. Ortega was also nominated for an Emmy as was Jason La Padura for Outstanding Casting.

High School Musical did win one Emmy for Outstanding Children’s Program and another for Outstanding Choreography. In all, the film had 9 wins and 10 nominations for various awards.

I highly recommend this film for parents, teenagers and children of all ages who would have the patience to sit through this movie. High School Musical sends a great message about children today and needs continued strong support to spread its positive message.

Copyright © 2007 Ed Bagley

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