Wednesday, September 18, 2019

On Sharpay, Grandpa Joe and lotteries


So here's a fun story. It seems that Emily Cacnio, a student at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York City, put together a slide presentation for her English class arguing that Sharpay Evans was not the antagonist of High School Musical but the hero.

Seems crazy, doesn't it? But she makes some good points.

Sharpay and her brother Ryan were the real professionals in the situation, not Troy and Gabrielle. They're the ones who showed up on time for the audition. They're the ones who put together an elaborate routine with original music.

And let's face it. She deserved to be lead. She was clearly more talented.

But Cacnio overlooks a few things.

Sharpay's shallowness and self-absorption make her completely unsympathetic. And in contemporary movies, that's often all it takes to move a character from the hero to the villain category.

She totally tried to steal Troy from Gabrielle. And being willing to do anything to achieve her goals is not the positive trait Cacnio thinks it is.

Be focused, sure. But don't be a jerk.

Plus, I've always felt that at the high school level, teachers have no business casting solely on talent. Their job is education, not entertainment, and you achieve that by giving students at all skill levels as many different roles as possible during those formative four years.

That pretty blonde with the killer pipes and the personality that just leaps off the stage? Think how much better an actor she'll be after stage managing a show or running the sound board.

So yeah, I still view Sharpay as the villain. But I do find it interesting that the writers of High School Musical decided to make the villain someone with a ton of theatrical experience while the heroes were mere dilettantes.

And there can be only one explanation for that. Our country's lottery culture. Why work hard for something if you can win it through luck?

Exhibit A. The candy bar opening scene in the original Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory:
Charlie: I've got the same chance as anyone else, haven't I? 
Grandpa Joe: You've got more, Charlie, because you want it more.
You used to see it on American Idol. You see it now on America's Got Talent and a gazillion other reality shows.

The producers on these shows don't promote the contestants who've struggled at their art for years. They promote the ones who recently discovered some innate talent and poopoo professional training because it might spoil their "authenticity".

Well, I've got news for them. Talent is overrated. What leads to success is work. Hard, knuckle-bleeding work. And lots of it.

So while Sharpay may be the villain, there's one small part of me that wants her to win, if only to show that hard work wins over "wanting it more".

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