Word on the street is that coming out of the closet is kind of tricky. And if we lived in more homo-friendly times, maybe you could pop into Angus & Robertson and buy your flamboyant youngest son an illustrated edition of ‘Little Troy Likes to Sleep with Boys’ to explain some things. In the meantime, we have High School Musical.
I could write a (probably extensive) blog about why High School Musical is one of the greatest films ever made and why I love it like my own child, but in the interests of brevity, suffice to say Zac Efron is magical.
His bad acting and joyful dancing make me feel sunshiney in my heart. On the day he was born, two silver winged unicorns cut a sliver from a shimmering rainbow and gave it substance in the form of a little boy. A little boy who grew up to love Liza Minelli and mascara.
And before you get all het about him being underage in the movie, it’s no pervy love. (Just quietly, if it was, him being underage also wouldn’t discourage me. Because I’m inappropriate like that). More that I want to adopt him, and shield him from the corrupting influences of the bad bad world.
I don’t even like to think of him being a real boy, to be honest. I feel like if you ever saw him pantsless, there would be only a skin coloured pair of plastic undies, like on a ken doll.
But far more than just being a Disney musical cheesefest that you either love or hate, respectively, depending on whether or not you are a totally awesome human being, HSM is an allegorical, inclusive, pro-diversity, homo-nurturing, singing, dancing masterpiece. Oh, it has LEVELS.
And it’s all thanks to this man.
Oh snap Kenny Ortega! Who doesn’t love a dancer with a gut?
Fun fact about Kenny: not just the director and choreographer of HSM. Boy also choreographed Xanadu. Xanadu! Amazing.
I suspect he’s also the one who made sure Zeffie’s Troy wardrobe is almost entirely in shades of blue so we can see his pretty blue eyes. Awwwww.
So you know the female spies who were sent into occupied France in WWII and posed as refugees to evade capture? (Because who would willingly go pose as a refugee, of all things? It would totes suck.) Kenny Ortega’s like that. Like a gay spy sent into the film industry posing as a Disney director. Because who would try and be socially progressive in Disney, of all places, right?
That’s the genius. HSM is a ‘love story’, allegedly. *cough cough* But for all the passion between Zeffie’s character Troy, and Gabriella, played by the loathsome and corpse-coloured Vanessa Hudgens, they might as well have named her character ‘ghost of homos future’. In fact, I will call her that, from now on. Because I wish she would die and stop tormenting me with her pallor and her baby voice.
The real love story is between Troy and musical theatre, specifically the delightfully named upcoming East High winter production ‘Twinkletown’. Teenage basketball superstar Troy discovers – one crazy new year’s eve – that he … GASP … likes to sing. He is ashamed, as all men apparently should be, to discover that singing makes him happy in his little golden soul.
He pretends it didn’t happen. He represses. He hides it from his friends. He tells himself it was just one time! I was drunk! Everyone has a blow job from a guy once in their life … right?
But baby can’t fight it for long. Like a bloodhound on the trail of homo criminals, he sneaks into the auditorium behind a janitor’s trolley. And soon golden boy Troy is in the running for a lead part in Twinkletown.
And there’s no question what being in a musical represents. (Sorry, Musicale. Because theatre folk are fancy like that).
Musicales are run by the single, bejewelled, unhinged drama teacher Miss Darbus. Also known as a faghag spinster.
Troy and Ghostie’s competition for the lead parts are the spangly, manipulative, narcissistic, bedazzled Sharpay and her fierce gay brother Ryan. (We know he’s gay cause he wears hats. Hats, people! Always with the hats!)
But that wily Kenny lets us think this is a bad bad thing. Musical practice makes Troy miss basketball practice with his 100% heterosexual, manly team mates. Sharpay is a heinous scheming bitch in a sequinned shrug.
Miss Darbus mercilessly forces the basketball boys to paint in detention. Ryan is a halfwit who loves Ashton Kutcher and jazz squares. Troy’s bff Chad points out that musicals produce hateful tools like Michael Crawford, which is surprisingly insightful. And true.
And the gay starts to spread, like ebola. Or jam. Other kids start confessing things: like playing the cello. Or loving to dance. Or – crime of all crimes – liking to bake.
Chad: Zeke … is BAKING.
If this was a live show, this would be the part where a gopher walks across the front of the stage with a cardboard sign readng ‘HOMOS RUIN LIVES’.
Instead we have something much much better:
The gays are ruining everything! I bet they also killed the dinosaurs! And Jesus!
The nerds and the basketball team form an alliance to create a straight army, rip Ghostie and Troy apart and stop all the musical madness before something gets burned down or God sends another flood.
Confused little angel Troy turns to his daddy (incidentally, Troy’s mum seems to have disappeared. There are seriously no breeders in this movie at all) and asks:
Troy: Dad, did you ever wanna try something new, but were afraid of what your friends might think?
It’s actually tres poignant. Daddy Bolton is having none of it though, and tells little Troy to get back to basketball like a real man and stop sucking dick. IT’S REALLY SAD.
But success, for the basketball team in their republican red uniforms, and the nerds in their KKK white labcoats, is bittersweet. Troy can no longer sink baskets (no, that’s not a euphemism) and chemical equations hold no joy for forlorn Ghostie. Suddenly, the world is bland and colourless, and the valuable lesson is finally learned.
The straight army mobilises once more to weasel our star-crossed lovers back into the Twinkletown call-back audition and let Troy’s soul sing itself to freedom.
The Wildcats even share the love with the drama club:
And as the movie swells to its low-budget spangly climax, Troy and Ghostie take to the stage to sing the anthem for closeted gay teens all over the world falling in love for the first time – Breaking Free:
We’re soaring, flying
There’s not a star in heaven
That we can’t reach
If we’re trying,
So we’re breaking free
You know the world can see us
In a way that’s different than who we are
Creating space between us
’Til we’re separate hearts
But your faith, it gives me strength
Strength to believe…
Can you feel it building
Like a wave the ocean just can’t control
Connected by a feeling
In our very souls
Rising ’til it lifts us up
So everyone can see…
We’re breaking free
We’re soaring, flying
There’s not a star in heaven
That we can’t reach
If we’re trying, yeah we’re breaking free
To get to that place
To be all that we can be
Now’s the time so we’re breaking free
More than hope
More than faith
This is truth
This is fate
And together, we see it coming
More than you
More than me
Not a want, but a need
Both of us breaking free
It makes angels dance and the Wildcats win the Big Basketball Game.
And at last – oh, at last! – the entire multicoloured United Colours of Benetton cast join in the gym for singing, dancing, and a big group hug. Best of all, Ryan gets to dive into a big pile of basketballers. It’s no Ashton Kutcher, but I’m so happy for you, Ryan!
Aaah, sweet resolution. The good ship SS Diversity sets sail into the sunset with the entire HSM cast on board. I only regret that there isn’t time in one post to talk about the brilliant Batman and Robin, possessive-girlfriend relationship between Troy and his bitchy queen Chad. All in good time, my babies. For now, let’s just watch them skip.