by Tracee Sioux
Everyone is talking about High School Musical 2, with 17.2 million viewers during the premiere , it's the most-watched basic cable program ever. Ainsley and I watched it together.
Isn't this just Dirty Dancing for kids? Here's the formula:
Cute poor kid works at a country club for the summer. He's really good friends with all the other employees. Rich girl, Sharpay, tries to buy his love and exclude his friends. She uses such "manipulation" as to try to get him on the college basketball team and use her family clout with the university to help him get ahead.
His friends do this: Who are you? Sell out! What about your friends? You're not the guy we thought you were.
Everything culminates in a talent show (Dirty Dancing anyone?) where the employees win and the evil rich girl loses. But, Sharpay is but is okay with that and has learned her lesson.
I honestly think this is a fine, age-appropriate movie. However, I did tell my daughter that the moral of the story: rich people are evil and good kids shouldn't pursue success because they'll leave friends behind, just isn't true to life.
I, for one, wish I hadn't taken such story-book morality to heart. My issue is with the rich versus poor theme. Poor doesn't equal moral or nice. Nor does rich equal evil. Allowing our daughters to think these stories are true to life or can be applied to real life situations will inevitably keep them poor. That's all I'm saying. Poor is not a future I wish on either of my children. Neither is guilt for earning a living. Certainly, I don't want to present it as an either/or choice.
As the only father-figure in the movie says, It's okay to keep your eye on the prize and go for it.
It's unfortunate the same formula films with the "poor is the moral choice" keep getting recycled and spoon fed generation after generation. It leaves people, especially women, feeling conflicted when they work hard to make money.
The very least we can do, as parents, is point out the discrepencies between culture and reality.