The stress of university life, particularly if it’s, say, your final year, can affect people in many different ways. For me, it makes me want to revisit the things that I enjoyed as a child, perhaps as a poor attempt to relive the days when I wasn’t even sure what a dissertation was, much less what it involved. It was this kind of thinking, childish in itself to be frank, that made me revisit an old favourite recently: High School Musical.
This little gem, a made-for-TV Disney Channel original movie (also known as DCOMs), left something of a notable impact on our generation. Even if you were never fan – and it’s okay to admit that you were – you were probably very much aware of it. It became the most-watched DCOM in history upon its premiere in 2006, was the first DCOM ever to be broadcast on the prestigious channel that is the BBC, and spawned a franchise involving two more movies and a multitude of merchandise, books, plush basketballs (yes, really)…
So what was the fuss all about? Did the Disney Channel really produce a masterpiece on a budget of less than $5 million? Well, I’m here to tell you that: no, they did not. But I do highly recommend re-watching the movie as an adult, or even watching it for the first time as an adult, if that takes your fancy.
High School Musical is the tale of Troy Bolton, captain of the East High basketball team who is well on his way to forging a professional career in the sport, despite being only 5’8 tall. His career prospects are thrown into disarray upon a chance meeting with Gabriella Montez while both are on a New Years holiday and are chosen to sing karaoke together. As luck would have it, they’re both note-perfect singers, despite their own admission that their singing experience and training is limited to singing in the shower, and the church choir. Hmm.
When Gabriella turns up at Troy’s school – a ridiculous and highly unlikely coincidence to start with, but Grease did it too, so I’ll let it slide – they’re both tempted to participate in the school musical, but feel they can’t because…Troy needs to focus on basketball and Gabriella on maths and science? I think. Perhaps the movie takes place in an alternate universe where humans are only capable of excelling in, or even enjoying, one thing.
The stupidity of the whole thing reaches its peak during what is arguably the best, or at least most humorous, song in the movie: ‘Stick To The Status Quo.’ During this musical number, other students, supposedly prompted by Troy’s involvement in the musical, are forbidden by their peers from partaking in baking, listening to hip-hop music, and playing the cello. Every single student at this school seems to have the most utter contempt for anyone taking up any kind of hobby, due to some kind of fear that it’ll cause them to deviate from their true calling of being a skater, or good at maths.
Yes, I probably am considering the probability and value of a children’s movie too harshly. The message children mostly take away from the movie is ‘be yourself and do what you want to do regardless of what your friends, peers, and parents think,’ and I have to applaud the movie for encouraging that. If you are going to watch it again, or for the first time, as an adult, maybe just don’t think about it too much. Just focus on those musical numbers, they’re surprisingly catchy. And remember, Sharpay is the true hero.