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Gayest thing on
TV right now: High School Musical 2

Gayest thing on
TV right now: High School Musical 2


The High School Musical franchise is the most-watched sugarcoated lie on basic cable--you'll still love it.

Elementary school-aged children love High School Musical because they live in a world where, one day, when they're all grown up like the big kids, high school is going to be amazing: one dancing-on-the-cafeteria-tables production number after another. No swirlies. No beatings. Only complete acceptance of everyone's unique selves and special talents, whether those skills be baking, singing, chemistry, cello, or propensity for wearing very gay hats. If things go wrong, they'll be righted by a musical number, hopefully one where the chorus goes, "We're all in this together...something something...we're all stars, etc. Hey!" There, I just recapped the first movie for you in case you missed it. It's a world where a movie like Heathers simply has no reason to exist.

Adult gays love High School Musical because they live in a world where, one day, when they invent a time machine, they will have the secondary-education experience they deserved to have, full of music so facile and dorky that it makes ordinary bubblegum pop sound like black metal, set in an environment so clean and sparkling and blazingly color-saturated it could cause cancer of the eyes.

When people talk about HSM, they talk about children--and sometimes the humming-along parents held hostage by those children. They don't talk about adults longing for something that never was. But that's the secret weapon of this maddeningly addictive one-two punch of gleefully uncool TV movies: They know what you always wanted and never got, especially if you were a show tunes-starved homosexual.

I watched the first movie as homework. I wanted to know what this thing was that had turned my 10-year-old niece into a drooling karaoke-loving zombie. So one Saturday night, my partner and I sat down with dinner and TiVo and became unwitting victims. Somewhere around the part where the entire lunchroom exploded into a hundred teenagers spinning round tables and doing backflips while holding trays of food, I thought, This ain't so bad, really. And during the final number, where all wrongs were righted, all relationships healed, and all the cutest cast members paired up with members of the opposite sex (even that blond guy, who was the most gay-acting of all of them, especially since the official word is that all male cast members are 1000% heterosexual and possibly even--OMG!--dating female cast members), my partner said, "You know, I kind of love this."

But just as you can't lose your virginity twice, you can't be surprised by a silly TV movie's unexpected adorability more than once either. This time around the cast is a little older, a little less gee-whiz, quite a bit more self-conscious of their chaste sex appeal, and a lot more tan. There's no song in this one called "My Orange-y Spray-On Adolescence," but there should be. Zac Efron, in particular, emerges fully formed in this installment as the perfect teen idol robot: his painstakingly tousled emo-for-popular-kids hairstyle, his snapping head movements, and his digitally enhanced blue eyes that border on unsettling and seem like they might, without much effort at all, shoot deadly laser beams at anyone who even thinks about getting in the way of The Wholesome.

If you didn't see HSM, the plot of HSM2 will be fresh. There's a talent show happening at a fancy-schmancy Albuquerque country club, see, and the innocuously mean Sharpay (Ashley Tisdale) and her pink beret-wearing nancy-boy of a jazz square-doing brother are out to rule the proceedings. Enter basketball jock Efron and his entourage of laboratory built-cute, somewhat scruffy, slightly less insanely wealthy friends who are all, to a man, also into singing and dancing for the talent show. And there's your conflict, one that will be resolved with some very acrobatic dancing, huggy lyrics, and bleached teeth by the time it's over. Tisdale, merely controlling in the first movie, has developed into a full-on hybrid of Paris Hilton and Miss Piggy for this spin.

But what the kids (and by this point in the review, when I say "the kids," I mean "you gays") care about are the production numbers. And that's where the bigger budget for HSM2 gets spent. This time around, everything in the camera's view is so radioactively colorful it seems more like the film is set in Alamogordo than Albuquerque. All objects, including the human beings doing the singing and dancing, are set to explode into a fourth dimension. There are more dancing extras, bigger sets, more elaborate choreography, more of everything--like if someone said to you, "You want this cupcake?" and you said, "Hell no, I want six cupcakes and I want them to be dunked in hot pink frosting so that they're covered on all sides. I want frosting to be all over my face and hands and in my hair, too. I want to smear that frosting all over my entire life. FROSTING!"

The songs are about how awesome it is that it's finally summertime, how great it is to be young and adorable, how playing baseball is almost exactly just like being in a Broadway show, how wild it is to be young and adorable and in love except that they don't think about having sex or even kiss, how great it is to be rich and at a country club, how much super-fun it is to have a menial summer job busing tables at a country club, and how sad it is to have a fight with your boyfriend. Later, at a crucial moment of conflict, Zac Efron--serving hilariously petulant bitch face--has a solo about how everyone who doesn't understand how sincere he truly is can go to hell because he's Zac and he's for-real and he's going to show them all.

The theme here, just like in the first movie, is that if you're nice and cute and you can sing and dance, then life is going to be really wonderful. This is, of course, a complete lie. But it's a nice lie, and it's served with the biggest spoonful of sugar ever invented. And it all gets wrapped up with the final song, where everyone hugs again and remembers that they're all in this together. They just don't use those exact words, because to do that would be copying HSM. And this is HSM2.

After that, the fireworks burst in midair and the golf course sprinklers erupt in a frenzy of sublimation. You'll kind of love it.

30 Years of Out100Out / Advocate Magazine - Jonathan Groff & Wayne Brady

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Dave White