Monday, March 9, 2009

Small world after all

I'm not about to apologise for what's to come.

So it's the afternoon after the night before and I'm on the sofa watching High School Musical 3. This peon to being true to your dreams and to sweet-as-apple-pie diversity (geeks who like body-popping/jocks who like to cook) has gotten my knickers in a twist. In terms of its attitude to getting it on across the racial boundaries, 2009's HSM3 is seriously lagging behind 1949's South Pacific. Where the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical explores its character's prejudices, Disney keeps shtum on the issue of miscegenation, instead pairing its kids up in perfect racial harmony like a supercute Noah's ark. Even the lead pairing of white boy, Latina girl (very East High Story) is following the old Hollywood game-plan of using a Hispanic women as a sort of safe intermediary, who like a good pair of jeans can go with either black (think of Will Smith's back catalogue)or white(just pick a J-Lo vehicle at random. Just don't make me sit through it.)

But what riled me up was the fate of poor Ryan Evans, Sharpei's pink-trilby wearing, dance-choreographing brother. Since the first movie in the franchise came out, Disney have been determined to keep Ryan in the closet. The official line has always been that he's got a crush on the goody-two-shoes heroine, although even a attention-deficient twelve year old can see that that her preternaturally buff amour is more his type. At the end of this movie Ryan gets given a scholarship to Julliard, but you can't help feeling it's a bribe for keeping HSM on good terms with the bible belters.

In this, the final episode, they even make him ask the impossibly smug little musician Kelsi to the prom, in a move clearly designed to make tweens think that there's yet another carefully colour-coded romance in the offing.

High School Musical 3
Good for: lingering shots of Zac Efron in a vest
Bad for: pedagogical perversity

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