Friday, February 06, 2009


This would be an easy film to miss in the belief that you weren't part of the target demographic - and I'm glad I now didn't (twice...!), since my curiosity got the better of me to see what the fuss was about.

High School Musical 3 is as exhilarating a couple of hours as I've had watching a movie for a long time - and although it appears to have a fairly standard high school romance comedy plot of obvious appeal to young teenage girls, there's an extraordinary dual reality taking place: this is about the most blatant and deliberate gay allegory ever made in recent Hollywood - and by Disney of all producers, who've clearly put a massive amount of resources into its making.

All the explicit stuff about career and study choices after graduating is a total smokescreen that I imagine the young HSM fan couldn't care less about; and the film's seeming chasteness neatly offsets any conflicts with the subtext of the boy-girl sexual chemistry. It certainly isn't an old-fashioned warning against teenage sexual precocity, as over-optimistically suggested in some conservative circles. On the contrary, it's only about sex.

Nearly all the male protagonists (apart from perhaps the geeky token hetero 'Rocket Man' character) are questioning their sexuality to one degree or another - and, as in the long history of film musicals, the stories' subtexts are all told in an obvious code through the songs (via the lyrics and the language of the elaborate dance routines) and the overall plot development, with theatre and basketball being the most obvious symbols of homo- and hetero- sexuality.

Sharpay Evans, the mandatory resident evil bitch who swings her hips in the sexiest killer pink lace boots and leather skirt combination you've ever seen, functions as comedic foil for all the tensions; while Gabriella Montez (cleverly chosen as having Hispanic origins), ostensibly the main love interest, senses that her offer of a place at Stanford will mean more to her than any fledgling high school crush; her concerns are far more to do with her peers' potential resentment towards her academic success. Yet although the girl roles have due prominence, really the movie is very much about beautiful boy Troy Bolton, as played by the excellent Zac Efron, who expertly hits all the spots of both his target audiences - in particular, the brilliant high-voltage junkyard sequence The Boys Are Back (think a heavy metal N'Sync circa Pop) and the steamy, erotically charged Scream (check out the truly outrageous double meanings in the lyrics). A film for kids? The little girls understand.

Despite its great songs and fun routines, there are clearly a lot of people that will get nothing out of the movie - yet, especially for those it's directly aimed at, High School Musical 3 is, that notwithstanding, a truly subversive masterpiece.


SYpHA_69 said...

Really? I might just have to check it out now. Zac Efron being something of a guilty pleasure of mine.

TDOTEP said...

Hallelujah! I've been saying this since I took my daughter to see it last year and been called deluded (and worse).

SenzuriChampion said...

oh bennett-chan

William Bennett said...

don't feel guilty about it :-)

Aries said...

I looked up the lyrics for "Scream." Yikes!

Voices in my head
Tell me they know best
Got me on the edge
they're pushin', pushin',
they're pushin'
I know they've got a plan
But the balls in my hands
This time its man-to-man,
I'm driving, fighting inside

A world that's upside down
Spinning faster
What do I do now? Without you

I don't know, where to go, what's the right team?
I want my own thing. So bad I'm gonna Scream!
I can't choose, so confused! What's it all mean?
I want my own dream. So bad I'm gonna Scream!

sm88 said...

I've got to admit my first reaction upon seeing the title of your new entry was to cringe. Then I laughed at the thought that you'd dedicated an entire entry to High School Musical. After reading I must say I'm thinking about renting it. I've got many girl friends around the age of 20 who are oddly obsessed with the series, something I never understood though I confess I've never taken the time to watch one. Maybe now is the time.

dirtydisco said...

The lyrics to "Scream" posted by Aries certainly does suggest tense sexual confusion. And I have to admit I'd have thought you'd be one of the last people to sing the praises of HMS. Makes me feel a bit dirty to think of Zac Effron as attractive since he's only 18 or something, but then again I'm only 24, just more sexual confusion I guess.