Low Sugar Epidemic Among The Precious Set

Entertainment journalism is going ga-ga over the High School Musical movie. I was caught completely unaware — here I thought I had my ear to the railroad of popular culture, ready to hear the rumble of every passing fad, but I was wrong. It wasn’t until gentlemen like James Poniezowik and Joel Stein, respectably balding thirty- or forty-something year old celebrities at TIME Magazine, told me that teeny boppers were raging about this big screen TV show sequel, that I became cognizant of a new movement in the teenage tectonic plate — kids don’t like being bad any more!

What got me all interested about writing this post, was how Stein led off his article: “Past teen idols ,” he wistfully declared, “often got famous for delivering slightly gritty entertainment: a hip swivel, a risqué rock song, having sex on a sinking ship.” But Efron, and HSM, do none of these — presumably, poor Mr. Stein had been looking forward to some under-age nipple slips, or a tastefully produced teen titty romp and instead, all he, and Mr Poniewozik, who must have been sitting in an adjacent cubicle when writing his review of the movie, got was a “(chaste) feeling,” creme brulee and plots that were “asexual and pre-adolescent,” which must have seemed extremely out-of-character and hard to believe, given that the musical was all about high school kids, whose uncontrollable hormones and sex drives are now legion in our culture. I get the suspicion that if this script were submitted in a writing group/workshop, of which Mr. Poniewozik was a member, he would have marked it as being the kind of fabrication that holds no place in the world of serious writing because none of its characters behave like they should, i.e. in a way that offers the typical past-sexual-peak writing group member a chance at incidental titillation. No wonder James Frey had to sex up his life the way he did (about which more some other time).

I wonder why those writing about a teenage movie, none of them teenagers themselves, should create a “phenomenon” where there isn’t any. It’s not altogether surprising that someone made a musical — witness the return of the form ever since the days of Moulin Rouge and Chicago. And any one who’s been watching even reasonably risque young adult shows like Malcolm In The Middle or That 70’s Show, or of course the steady diet of moralizing, wholesome animation shows coming from Pixar and the like, should know that there’s a high tolerance for candy and over-saturated hues among American youth and even the vast majority of their parents.

I am sure there will always be an edge and a fringe to satisfy some journalists’ prurient interests, so that our scribes always have a chance to write about sex and violence, but I always say, you can’t make an edge without a good bit of middle.


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