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The High School Musical Phenomenon

Disney just released High School Musical 2. If you are like me and have school age children, this was an event rivaled only by Christmas!

If you have not seen it, let me get you up to speed. The story essentially revolves around two attractive teenagers and their attractive friends. Troy and Gabriella are the leads (played by Zach Efron and Vanessa Hudgens) and are constantly in conflict with Sharpay (Ashley Tisdale) and twin brother Ryan Evans (Lucas Grabeel). Troy and Gabriella are nice kids who sing unbelievably well together (yes, their actual voices) and are trying to find their niche in their school.

Many of the kids who watch these movies have no idea what the following reference is, but it reminds me very much of the excitement that surrounded the movie Grease with a young John Travolta and Olivia Newton John as the attractive young couple. There are many similarities. Obviously, both heavily rely on music to shape the story. Both involve kids who come from different backgrounds to find each other. I found there to be many other similarities as I watched High School Musical.

Disney is one of those things where there is no middle ground. You either drink the Disney punch, or you don’t! Personally, I think the productions they put out are great for young kids. Almost all of their Disney orignal television programs and movies have some kind of a moral lesson in them. This would be in stark contrast to some channels for kids which teach violence and rude behavior.

It is also a neat experience for the kids because we live in a time that is run by the internet. There are places on the Disney Web page where you can find out more about the stars and the kids can go to these sites and play games and create yearbooks and the like.

Now I know some of you are saying, “Hey, weren’t Justin and Brittany mouse club members when they were little. Man, look how they turned out! Yes, it is true these are not necessarily the people I want my kids to emulate themselves after, but that is my job as a parent. To me, if a kid is having a good time and is not doing something wrong, mean or rude I am pretty much ok with that.

In closing, let me say this. Even if you do not like Disney and are not into the programs being put out, remember your child looks at these people like you looked at your idol. Are the actors the greatest kids in the world, who knows. I am sure some of them are interesting to handle, but they keep my kids entertained and I have never read bad press about them!

My advice is to take a look at the movie. Even if you have never seen the first movie, check out the second one anyway! Trust me, when your kids go back to school this is going to be a major topic of conversation! Also, try to sit down and watch the movie with your kids. It is fun to watch my very serious daughter really have fun with a movie like this. This movie is a complete Disney experience that you get. Disney Performing Arts programs is a similar and much popular platform that you can opt in order to get the beautiful Disney experience.

Real Teens, Real Issues…Now That’s Reality TV!

Real Teens, Real Issues…Now That’s Reality TV!

Rach, the “teen”

I’ve been watching High School Confidential, a show that follows 12 girls through their four years in a typical Mid-western high school. If the girls didn’t talk so much about Kansas, I would have never known where the school is located.

Northwest, the school portrayed in the show, seemed almost exactly like my high school. Our student bodies are very similar; our communities seemed equally diverse, even our school television stations looked alike. The girls out there seem to wear more makeup than the girls at my school, but to be honest, that’s the biggest difference I saw.

That’s why I liked the show so much. Not only do I feel connected (because of our school comparisons), but because I felt connected to the students. They weren’t Orange County celebrities in the making, and they weren’t actors posing as teens. They were real teens, with real issues, making real choices. That rocks. It really felt like an accurate portrayal of what it’s like being a teenage girl.

Of course, it might just be me. Did the high school and the kids seem real to you too?

Real Teens, Real Issues…Now That’s Reality TV!

Mary, the “mom”

It’s fascinating to me that Rachel does feel so connected to these girls and it’s really quite instructive. As I listen to them, they often sound quite dramatic. I think I remember what it was like to be a teenage girl, and of course, I do remember some of it. But at this point in my life, I’ve managed to put all those high school dramas into perspective. It’s easy as an adult to look at some of the issues these girls are dealing with and realize they are just small ‘bumps in the road’.

The girls in High School Confidential are a wake-up call. They are real. Their issues are real and, most importantly, their perspectives on those issues are real. As a parent, it’s really useful to be reminded that, to the girls, at that moment in time, these issues are all consuming.

Real Teens, Real Issues…Now That’s Reality TV!

On the other hand, some of the girls in this show are dealing with huge, life-altering issues – parents dying, unplanned pregnancies, and so on – issues that any adult would recognize as no small ‘bump in the road’. Yet, in some cases, they don’t get the support they so obviously need.

So, what did I get out of this as a mom? A reminder to not minimize the ‘crisis’ that are the milk of the teenager years and a little positive reinforcement that providing a stable and supportive environment – to whatever extent you can control it – has its benefits.

Brad, the “dad”

Actually, High School Confidential scared the bejeebies out of me. Pregnancy, marriage, death, abortion – ah, good times, good times. Then I reminded myself that even though these are real kids, we’re watching the highlights (or lowlights) of four tumultuous years shrunk down into about 18 minutes.

My 17-year-old watched the show with me, and even she commented on how incredibly dramatic each story was. “We have 100 seniors at my [tiny] high school,” she said, “and there’s been exactly one pregnancy, two other girls who came back to school with babies, one traffic death, no suicides, and as far as I know no dead parents. Yet.” (At which point she gave me a disturbingly speculative squint.) There’s a point there: High School Confidential – being a TV show, after all — is intrinsically attracted to the Big Stories, good or bad; Judging by the experiences of my own kids and their friends, the day-to-day life of the high schooler isn’t nearly as high-anxiety as what we saw here.