Oh, "High School Musical 3" was yet another frolic with
Zac Efron as Troy,
Vanessa Hudgens as Gabriella,
Ashley Tisdale as Sharpay,
Corbin Bleu as Chad,
Monique Coleman as Taylor,
Olesya Rulin as Kelsey, and...
Lucas Grabeel as Ryan.
It's 2008. Do we really have to have the "wink-wink-he-might-be-gay-from-all-the-clues" character?
Ryan dresses nattily. (And he'd know what "nattily" means - he's got his own style.)
Ryan's a "dancer/choreographer."
Ryan's pretty much always a smiling, trying to do the right thing, nice gay.
I mean, "guy." Nice guy. (He can't even go along with his mean sister, he's just too aw, shucks... nice.)
And in this episode - whoops- sorry about that - in this sequel, Ryan ends up taking lovable, bespectacled composer Kelsey to the Prom.
And it was at that moment that I wanted to SCREAM.
Okay, this movie has so little conflict, that I think if you timed out the moments when we were really concerned things might go wrong (the Wildcats might lose the game, Gabriella and Troy might not "work it out," the senior musi-cal might be a huge flop) I think you'd be hard pressed to find 10 minutes of tension in the entire 14 hour epic. (It wasn't 14 hours long? Really? I could have sworn...)
All the conflict (such as there was) was internal.
Wishing, hoping, that Ryan would come out, kiss the goofy is-he-going-to-graduate-or-not boy, and we could experience some actual diversity that included us.
I wanted to love this movie as much as my five year old daughter next to me, jigging and jiving and dancing along to every musical number.
But all I got to watch was the reheated leftover conflict of Troy's basketball dreams versus his theatrical ones, and the same old heteronormative love story:
Will Troy and Gabriella find a way for their love to survive moving away from home and going off to different colleges?
The Big conflict for me was, and remains: Will Disney ever include us - Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning, or Gender Non-Conforming Teens - in the defining stories of our age?
Now, don't get me wrong. When I say "the defining stories of our age" I don't think they're defining love for Teenagers. That was done by the Princess mafia - you know, the stories Teens today (and adults today) grew up on.
Belle's opposite gender Beast,
his transformation into a handsome Prince, and their happily-ever-after.
Jasmine's up-from-the-gutter Aladdin, and their magical adventure to boy-girl happily-ever-after.
Cinderella's from rags to riches love for her Prince, and their happily-ever-after.
Need I go on, or can you fill in your favorites yourself?
These patterns are BURNED into our psyches from the time we get our first Disney stuffed animal.
And even the animals are part of the heteronormative march-in-step!
Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse.
Donald Duck and Daisy Duck.
Chip and Dale (HEY! Wait a minute... Just what is their relationship???)
Now I know that the main audience for High School Musical 1, 2, and 3 is basically girls between the ages of 3 and 9 - I'm not sure how many 4th grade or older girls were in the audience, but I can tell you the Kindergarteners were in FULL attendance!
Would it have destroyed their franchise to let Ryan be gay? I'm not asking for some half-naked wrestling session in the school gym that ends up in him having wild gay sex. It could be as sweet and "G" rated as Troy and Gabriella's love:
which basically has them kiss with barely any physical parts of their bodies touching except their lips.
I could have been happy even without a guy-on-guy kiss, if there had been a romantic interest for him and some shared looks, a sweet flirtatious smile - anything but the closeted "beard" move of taking the nerdy girl with glasses to the prom.
And doesn't Kelsey deserve someone who will love her for herself???? Is it any girl's dream to go to the Prom with the closeted gay guy? Isn't that kind of a nightmare scenario?
Doesn't Ryan deserve to be gay???
And if Ryan isn't gay (a question perhaps only Lucas, the actor playing him,
would know for sure), don't we Gay people deserve a little inclusion in this technicolor musical of High School Life today?
Does East High have a Gay-Straight Alliance?
Don't you wish they did?
Don't you think, maybe, we should help them form one?
Sing with me...
Wild-cats! G-S-A! Some-one here has gotta be Gay! Wild-cats' G-S-A, Let's show the world - Whoop!