Pom-Poms and Prisons: The Powerful Statism of Disney's High School Musical

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From both the left and the right, you can always count on some level of support for television and movie censorship. Both groups seek to protect their collectivist interest and pet opinions through the use of government enforced broadcasting laws. Whether it is the latest school shooting or gruesome rural murder, TV is often blamed. But we rarely hear of any group protesting the even more destructive programming of glorifying our statist Prussian education. Even our churches and libertarian communities are usually silent on the issue. From Happy Days to Saved By The Bell, Hollywood has long been the public relations wing of our federalized educational system. Today’s juggernaut of public school idolatry is the Disney’s High School Musical series. There is no more pro-state entertainment program as deft and dangerous as the Disney High School Musical franchise. Indeed, it promotes more immoral attitudes and beliefs than any sexy slasher film that I can think of.

The High School Musical franchise is the most wildly popular series of made for television movies in the history of the medium. The theatrical release (High School Musical 3: Senior Year) is currently one of the top movies in the country, after breaking all Hollywood opening night records for G-rated movie release. HSM has won numerous awards including an Emmy, Billboard Award, Teen Choice Award and the Television Critics Association Award. From the program itself to the clothing, websites and videogames that have followed it… High School Musical is a bona fide American cultural phenomenon. This is a series of films seemingly universally accepted by the viewing public. It tells the masses exactly what they want to hear: that the government is doing an excellent job of educating our kids, and is also having tons of fun doing it.

The HSM franchise is a sleeper film, in the sense that it appears oh so wholesome on its face. What are the purported “virtues” of High School Musical? There is no cursing. There is no sex. There is no violence. It is a happy-go-lucky musical in the spirit of the classic Hollywood genre. It is Disney. It features racial diversity including interracial relationships. The songs are uplifting. It supposedly has a good “lesson” about what really matters in life. But the fact that the films are so fun and accessible only masks their aggressive agenda. Their goal is to indoctrinate viewers into believing that public schools are also full of such virtues, or at least could be if we’d keep raising federal funding and give our best efforts to improve them.

Although cursing is absent, mindless teenage jabber (“Like, totally, for sure!”) is rampant throughout the films. Although there is diversity, it is only racially so. There is little diversity of age, for example, and the adults in the film are quickly stereotyped. Parents are overbearing, teachers are clueless (well, they might actually have got that one right…).

There is one loud and clear message resonating from the High School Musical films: One can live no better than when caged up in a public school. And who wouldn’t want to be here? Public school is a blast! It’s where the cool kids are! It is where good-looking students have fun! The sports contests, the romantic butterflies, racial harmony, the healthy drama… it’s all here. Anyone who has ever been to a high school knows that this is just nonsensical puffery. However, it is the younger children, sitting wide-eyed in front of the TV set, thirsting to one day get to high school and show that school spirit. It elevates public school as not just a place to learn, but a place to become “socialized.” Like a cult programming system, HSM will show your kids how great our public schools will be, if we’d only follow orders. Then, like Troy, our biggest problem will be whether we can find the time to sing in the play and score the winning point in the basketball game. As long as you are a sheep and sacrifice yourself to the greater good of the state institution, you are a star (as summed up in the triumphant theme song to the show “We are all in this together”).

As a former teacher in the public school system, I can tell you that these impressionable kids are not getting an accurate portrayal. Though the rah-rah hysteria is driven down their throats on a day-to-day basis (and shifted into overdrive during football season), most if not all students do not like going to school. They do not find it fun; they find it a drag. They resent being woken up before sunrise, being bussed to an eight hour internment camp, being force-fed information from dishonest textbooks, marching in lock step from class to class at the sound of a bell, being subject to searches of their person and lockers against their will… it is probably why so many of them do not fear going to prison; they have been there, done that. I don’t need to tell you that the backlash to this sort of environment includes daily ritualized destructive activities such as fights, prostitution, sexual exploitation, bullying, abuse and other traumatizing behaviors that occur in state-run schools just as they do in state-run prisons.

Where are the independent and creative minds that populate Hollywood? Why in the world would programming like this get absolutely no criticism anywhere on any level? It is because it perfectly places state education at the center of our children’s lives. It further elevates the dominion of the state. How could anyone homeschool their kids when the students in HSM are having such a fun, healthy and happy time? How can any parent elect to pay that pricey private school tuition when the students in HSM are getting all that they need and then some?

Though catchy and engaging, HSM packs the punch of the WWII propaganda films. Do yourself and your family a favor and skip out on this statist school system pep rally.

Scott James Meyer [send him mail] is in his third year of law school at the Birmingham School of Law.

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