If you have a daughter between the ages of 3 and, say, 16, you have probably heard of - nay, been bombarded by - High School Musical. Or as I refer to it, "Grease for today's younger generation, without the hotpants."
High School Musical is yet another gear in the massive engine that powers the DisMAY (Disney Marketing around Youth) Machine. It's a movie about two beautifully perfect high school students. She is a scholar, an academic master. He is a sports star, captain of the basketball team and wanted by every girl in school because, like, omigod, he's got those dreamy eyes. During a New Years' karaoke party the two are forced to come on stage together, having never met before, only to discover they just happen to lipsynch pop music together like angels. They spend the rest of the movie trying to figure out how they can audition for a duet in this year's high school musical without his buddies mocking him, her science geek cohorts ostracizing her, or the two of them accidentally touching lips together in an act of unbridled (and inappropriate for Disney) passion.
The music is light. It's fluffy. It's meaningless. And it's unbelievably catchy. I will be the first to admit that the songs are far better than anything Barney, the Wiggles, or Christina/Jessica/Baldy could ever hope to spout from their headsets, and you'd be hard-pressed to keep your foot from tapping or your head from bobbing if I were to play it for you right now. But after hearing the soundtrack for the nineteen-hundred and twenty-fourth time in the minivan it still makes you want to stick a car key into your temporal lobe.
My daughters love the movie. Jessica, my three-year-old, knows the words to every song and will sing "Start of Something New" to herself all day long without even realizing she's doing it. Every day, as soon as they get into the car, they demand to hear the soundtrack.
The engine powering this Disney conglomerate is just awesome. It has rocketed the stars, Whatshisname and Whatserface, to an absolute pinnacle of Disney branding. There is a float in the Disneyworld parade. They have their own section in the theme park. There's HSM parties. Clothing lines. A traveling Broadway show. Every high school is doing the show this year. Heck, there's even an article in Wikipedia.
Recently my wife heard the news that the traveling show was hitting Pittsburgh. When I heard how much the tickets were, I cringed. Four tickets (that would be for the girls, my wife, and their grandmother) would cost close to $200. Of course after the Circus fiasco, I realized that $200 really meant twice that after t-shirts were bought, autographs were obtained, and twirly High School Musical light-up doohickeys were purchased. So I decided it was time to place my foot firmly in the down position.
Luckily, I never got the chance to do so. Our daughters have moved on to Barbie Fairytopia. Oh...there's a story for another time.....