Film Theory: Disney LIED to You! (High School Musical)

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Disney's High School Musical seemed pretty straight forward. Most people assume that the mean rich girl Sharpay is the villain. But what if I told you that isn’t the case? Could there be someone else better suited for that title? Someone more spoiled, undeserving, and ungrateful? Scramble to your seats theorists! Class is now in session!
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I’m just gonna come right out and say it:. zac efron, you stole my career sir!. it should’ve been me as troy bolton in high school. musical. we both dance, act, and sing. except one. of us doesn’t need autotune *cough cough*. who performed as kids, we were born less than. a year apart, and we can rock the short and. the long hairstyles. and look at that steely gaze!. we are exactly the same!. we are mostly the same!. hello internet, welcome to film theory, the. show that encourages viewers to getcha, getcha,. getcha, getcha head in the game, if the game. is reinterpreting beloved franchises. if you’re not onto it by now, you probably. don’t even disney channel original movie,. bro, because today’s episode is all about. high school musical. that’s right, here on film theory, we only. tackle the freshest, hottest movie series. that haven’t had an installment in nearly. a decade (unless you count sharpay’s fabulous. adventure, which i obviously do). when i was still acting in theater, i was. in a big regional production of high school. musical as troy’s understudy, and that gave. me plenty of time to overthink the plot. inbetween bouts of icing our vocal chords. i mean this kind of thing was my life when. i was a teenager: musicals, theater, show. choir. you name it, if there was a chance to perform. onstage and not have to interact with popular. people, well boy howdy was i involved. and after spending so much time studying the. show, i’ve always had a bone to pick with. hsm. well, a few bones to pick because there’s. no way juilliard is really going to send acting. scouts to a random public high school in albuquerque. to watch a show written by a student. anyway, the movies bend over backwards trying. to convince you that sharpay, the quote-unquote. spoiled, rich, theater diva is the villain. of the story. but she’s not. in fact, when you stop and actually look at. the series, sharpay is the only one with redeemable. qualities. you hear that vanessa hudgens and zac efron!. your empire of fame is built on lies!. lies i say!. think it’s just a chip on my shoulder . well let’s look at the evidence and “bop-bop-bop,. bop to the” bottom of this case. now in case you need a cram session before. this high school musical final exam, here. it is in a nutshell. in the original high school musical, our heroes. gabriella and troy meet when they do karaoke. together at a new year’s eve party, conveniently. finding out shortly thereafter that gabriella. is transferring to troy’s school. she’s a science nerd who wants to find a. new place for herself at this school, and. he’s a star basketball player who wants. to find a new place for himself in gabriella’s. pants. on a whim, they decide to audition for the. high school musical. oh i get the title now!. even though they’re rejected for being too. late and don’t prepare anything, they get. a callback for the lead roles. this doesn’t sit well with sharpay and her. twin brother ryan, who are the diehard members. of the drama club. which, now that i’m. writing it out, when the villain of your movie. is supposedly a theater kid, you should already. be asking questions. oh no!. they’re going to shame me with their box. steps!. don't you do that in my direction!. oh they're pulling out the viewpoints! she's commenting on my stance!. sorry the theater kid is coming rushing back to me!. anyway, sharpay and ryan convince the drama. teacher to move the callbacks to the same. day as troy’s basketball championship and. gabriella’s scholastic decathlon. troy and gabriella’s other friends think. they should choose between the activities. they’ve already committed to or this musical,. but nah, they’re the hot protagonists in. a made-for-tv disney movie, so they don’t. and troy and gabriella win everything, including. the leads in the musical, the decathalon,. and the last shot of the basketball game. wow, growing up is so difficult when you're young and beautiful. high school musical 2 is pretty much the same. thing but over the summer and with a country. club talent show instead of a musical, and. high school musical 3 is pretty much the same. thing as hsm 1 but now they’re seniors and focused. on college. got it . good. so what makes sharpay the villain . well, ask anyone who knows these movies, and. their arguments fall into one of three camps:. 1) she’s a diva who won’t share the spotlight;. 2) she’s trying to steal troy away from. gabriella; and 3) she’s a spoiled rich girl. who expects everything to be handed to her. that’s what these movies want you to believe,. but if you actually stop and objectively look. at her actions across these cinematic masterpieces,. you see that this couldn’t be further from. the truth. complaint #1: sharpay is a diva who won’t. share the spotlight. very early in the first high school musical,. we establish that sharpay is super mean. just look at this conversation: “oh, were you. going to sign up, too . my brother and i have starred in all the school’s. productions, and we really welcome newcomers. there are a lot of supporting roles in the. show. i’m sure we can find something for you. ”. okay, there’s definitely a tone issue, but. let’s think about what she’s actually. saying. she isn’t discouraging the pretty new girl. from auditioning -- in fact, she even says. that they welcome new people into the club,. going so far as to say there are lots of roles,. so she’d be likely to get in even if gabriella’s. a complete newb to performing on stage. which,. let’s not forget, she absolutely is. this girl is so inexperienced she freezes. up at the freaking audition: “i can’t. do it, troy. not with all these people staring at me. ”. oh you can't do it can ya . well, it’s not like people are going. to be staring at you if you’re the lead. character in a musical or anything . sharpay is definitely full of herself to assume. she’ll be the lead, but then again, no one. else signs up to audition for the lead. we see the sign up sheet. and even if they did, look at the other talent. she’s had to go up against!. east high. not quite the strongest arts program. and yes, at first, it might seem underhanded. that she convinces ms. darbus the theater. teacher to change the callbacks to the same. day as the basketball game, but sharpay is. just testing gabriella and troy’s resolve. to see if they’d really be committed to. the show. because let’s face it, gabriella and troy. have other activities, other friends, and. each other; what else does sharpay have besides. theater and a brother who wears stupid hats . now, the idea of testing their commitment. may seem absurd, but her fears are well-founded:. in high school musical 3, troy actively ditches. out of the first act of his senior show so. he can drive to visit gabriella when she’s. away at another school. troy bolton just sent me a text. ‘been driving all night. i’ll try and get there for the second act. break a leg’ break a leg . what does that mean . dude, i think it’s showbiz for ‘you’re. going on’. ”. “yeah guys, sorry for completely trashing. the months of work we put into this thing. i. had to go make out with my girlfriend. don’t worry, i’ll be there to grace the. show with my six-pack abs in the second act”. but let’s not forget, a true diva would. rather not be a part of the show at all instead. of playing second fiddle to someone else. well in none of the high school musical movies. does sharpay get the glory, but she comes. around in all three!. after gabriella gets the lead in high school. musical, sharpay is cast as her understudy. but still congratulates her and tells her. to break a leg. "well congratulations. i guess i'm going to be the understudy in case you can't make one of the shows, so break a leg. ". and we find out in the beginning of hsm that sharpay even gave gabriella vocal exercises. that helped her in the role. "sharpay we got off to a rough start, but you really came through. i mean you helped me with the winter musical. those vocal exercises. ". that’s. surprisingly gracious for someone. who is supposedly so egotistical. now look at the end of that movie: sharpay. and troy are slated to sing together at the. country club’s talent show. her brother ryan and his stupid, stupid hat betrays. his sister by giving troy a new song to sing. with gabriella so that sharpay can’t participate. in the one thing she was hoping for the entire. summer. so what did she do . instead of making a scene or wrecking the. show, sharpay recovers, chooses to sing as. part of the group, wins the star dazzle award. as best performer, then graciously gives the. award to the brother who just stabbed her. in the back!. “and this year’s star dazzle goes to. of. course. my brother ryan evans. ”. and at the end of high school musical 3, when. sharpay isn’t chosen for one of the scholarships. to juilliard--even though her brother is and his stupid hat is--we learn that she’s going to help run the high. school’s drama department the following. year, a role for which there will be zero glory. sharpay is just committed to making her school’s. drama program great. she always wants to be the star, but are we. really faulting someone for wanting to be. the best . a true diva wouldn’t let anyone near her. spotlight, and clearly sharpay is still along. for the ride even if she isn’t getting all. the glory. complaint #2: sharpay is trying to steal troy. away from gabriella. so perhaps a bigger sin of sharpay’s is. that she has goals to date troy who is (sometimes). happily in a relationship with gabriella. so what nefarious deed does she do to win. him over . does she kiss him . push gabriella off a cliff . drug him and shave off that mop of hair so. she can swim deeper into his cool blue, winter. crystal eyes . no!. sharpay’s evil plan is to get troy a job
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