I've never felt compelled to refuse to perform an assigned task based on principle, but last week was nearly an exception.
As a final project in their English class, the students of tercero medio B at San Lorenzo were assigned the work of putting on a musical for the school. Myriam, their teacher, had suggested various well-known, classic musical numbers, but it was apparent from the get-go that the students had seen this assignment coming and had already thought of their number... they wanted High School Musical 2.
If you haven't seen High School Musical 2, don't despair, it most likely means you still retain some form of sanity in your life. That might sound a tad harsh, but I would seriously consider a healthy flogging before watching that movie. There are just some things I don't do, and to watch High School Musical is one of them.
I'm really at the mercy of my prejudices since I haven't actually seen the musical, but I've seen enough through the media to equate it with your standard-issue adolescent brainwash nowadays. I see the general Disney Channel characteristics that I loathe: the cliché storyline centered on a jock-cheerleader romance with overly theatrical adolescents that talk so animatedly it appears they might either get their face stuck in a constant strained expression or faint from overexertion.
And if that isn't enough, I've never really enjoyed any musical. Almost every musical I've ever watched either leaves me thinking about the inappropriateness of singing at a crucial point in the performance, or gives me an impatient feeling when the characters break into some extended poetic lament about love lost. Some may argue in favor of its "artsyness", but my brain can't get past its superfluousness. I enjoy movies, I enjoy music, but for some reason a musical seems to me like mating a horse and a mule: the result works but is ultimately infertile.
I can count the musicals I've managed to sit through with my eyeballs: Grease and Hairspray. Grease was more or less bearable, but Hairspray took an act of God to endure, which came in the form of the theatrical genius and master of rug cutting, Christopher Walken himself. Had it not been for Walken, I can assure you my chin would suffice for counting.
But enough out of Mr. Philistine... back to the point.
As part of the preparation for the musical Myriam asked me to prepare a wall display for a large bulletin board located along the main corridor of the school. She wanted pictures of the characters, song lyrics, and basically anything having to do with High School Musical 2 that I thought would be good to put up... er, so nothing?
If I didn't respect the students and their interests, I probably would have put up lots of mind-numbing grammar tidbits instead and claimed ignorance to my devious insubordination. But alas, I couldn't bring myself to disappoint the class, so I made the display and painfully stapled the items to the board.
I finished my work on Thursday afternoon at 1:30 p.m. Apart from showing Jer the board shortly after I had finished it, I didn't return to it until the following morning. We arrived extra early that morning, second only to the doorman, because Rodrigo had to go to the airport to pick up a visiting monk. As I was strolling past the display on my way to Lauds my eyes beheld the wall in shambles. Someone had torn down the protective plastic covering of the display and heisted everything except the lyrics to one of the songs... apparently I have below average taste in teeny bop music—mhmm, what a pity.
I was a bit sad that someone had disrespected my display like that, but at the same time I felt a bit of ironic redemption. My reluctance to adorn the bulletin board with High School Musical memorabilia was met by a student's uncontrollable frenzy to have it all.
In light of my recent proclamation of my dislike of musicals and special disdain for High School Musical, it might be natural to pin the act on me, hypothesizing that I hired a hit girl (or boy, I suppose) to tear down the wall. However cunning that would be, I must admit that such a plan never crossed my mind, and if it did I wouldn't state it outright. Of course, I can't prove anything, so you'll just have to take my word that this was truly an act of High School Musical hysteria and not a personally motivated crime.
And also, one can't be sure that the perpetrator wasn't motivated by the same feeling that almost kept me from putting up the display, but I have fairly good evidence that they were motivated on the contrary: From the time I brought my materials to the wall to the time I had jammed the last staple into the board (which wasn't long), there were multiple attempts to run off with the pictures and a few polite inquiries for me to give out the photos. I guess I thought the plastic cover would be a sufficient psychological barrier to keep the wall intact. Lesson learned.
But one matter still remains: with the gusto to ravage a bulletin board in pure daylight, there's no telling what atrocities might transpire on opening day. If I wasn't familiar with the type of hysteria created by Disney creations, i.e. The Jonas Brothers, Hannah Montana, I might cede victory to a pure act of vandalism, but I suspect it is much more grave and profound than the work of amateur vandals—what we're dealing with here are crazed fans ready to drive across the country in diapers to sequester their own Zac Efron.
I heard the call to restore sanity. The administration has been alerted to the threat and security measures are in motion. I'm making sure nobody pulls a fast one this next time around.
With this in mind, I hope the next time I write to you about the High School Musical 2 project is after the premier, recounting the professional quality and the superb acting and singing talents of the students. And who knows, maybe it will be the performance that changes my opinion to the affirmative on musicals.
But until then, keep it real!