At first, I didn’t realize that some of my fellow cast members were frightened of these guests. Something about their black makeup and reputation made the Bats crowd intimidating, I suppose. I really didn’t notice. In high school, I had stepped out of my comfort zone and made friends with a few goths, to discover that, more often than not, they were far nicer than the “normal” people. It might have been because I was a misfit myself, but I believe they would have opened up the same way to anyone. As for the Disneyland guests, they came to have fun, same as anyone else. It was annoying to me that I had to initiate contact with “scary people” because…well, they were scary. Even after one of them managed to talk with one of the goths to discover that yes, I was right, they can be very nice, the cast members seemed very nervous about them.
Apparently, despite having it drilled into our heads from the time we are old enough to watch our first episode of Sesame Street, most people do not remember not to “judge a book by it’s cover.” It doesn’t matter that this particular event took place at Disneyland, because I see it all the time. I’ve been a victim of this kind of thing for as long as I can remember. I come from Long Beach, so I’m automatically into drugs, rap, and because of the high school I attended, I’m possibly mentally unstable, part of a gang, and prone to violence. It doesn’t matter that people get these ideas from poorly researched television programs and films, it must be true because that’s what they know. I’m also preppy because I’m intelligent, and therefore I must have good grades (niether of which is entirely true). I am supposedly a hippy, therefore (again) a druggie, because I like to listen to sixties and seventies music. The list goes on and on. Worse, because I have an uncommon and not-very-phoenetic name, people tend to think I’m weird anyway without even learning more than my name.
And while we’re being asked not to judge books by their covers . . . I’m reminded of a post I saw earlier today on the QueerSighted Gay Blog, discussing whether High School Musical 2 is “chock full of gay:”
Perhaps disturbed by the gay subtext [in High School Musical] that was pointed out to them by homosexuals with agendas, Disney attempts to butch up High School Musical 2, removing all traces of queer allegory and metaphor and amping up the heterosexual love triangle. Even so, this sequel (which exists in a parallel universe where the high school experience is so watered down that it might as well be clear) is perhaps even gayer than the first movie.
I must say, it did occur to me that the “I Don’t Dance” scene was as laden with coded references and knowing glances as any Hays Code-era Hollywood blockbuster. Ryan’s the pitcher, eh? Not surprising at all, to those of us who’ve spent a good bit of time wearing the pink hats ourselves. And did anyone else think it was odd that Troy could even pretend to be jealous when Ryan slung his arm, with platonic affection, around Gabriella’s shoulders?
It would seem we’re confronted with a post-modern dilemma: Do we choose to view Ryan’s fabulous, fey mannerisms as thinly-veiled references to his homosexuality, or do we embrace the notion that hetero men should also be free to love show tunes and camp it up? Either way, Ryan saves the day, so does it matter? Not to me. I’m a big fan of both gay rights and gender aberration, so either way I’m all for it.
But more to the point . . . maybe Ryan’s sexual orientation does matter if you’re a gay teen growing up today, watching High School Musical 2 and thinking maybe, just maybe, it’s okay to be who you are. Could it be possible that we really are all in this together?