Brent Hartinger

Is High School Musical 2 "Gay"?

Filed By Brent Hartinger | August 27, 2007 5:32 PM | comments

Filed in: Media
Tags: Disney, gay teens, High School Musical 2, teen, television, tv

estrelas_ryan.gifMaybe the answer is self-evident, given that High School Musical 2 is set, well, in the world of high school musicals. And the movies also includes the character of Ryan, Sharpay's sharply dressed, choreographically gifted brother.

But is Ryan gay? Neither of the movies ever comes out and actually says so (though there is one teeny tiny hint at the end of the first movie, when Ryan accepts cookies from a jock). Instead, they use coded references to gay stereotypes: the fact that he's a sharp dresser, that he wears hats, that he seems to have no romantic interests, that he's interested in theater and choreography.

Clearly, he's meant to be perceived as gay--perhaps to ward off the inevitable criticism that a movie set in the world of high school musicals has no gay characters.

But is this "coded gay character" a good thing or a bad thing? According to my brilliant partner Michael Jensen, editor of AfterElton, it's mostly an anachronism. This is 2007, after all. Do we really need to be still doing the nod-nod-wink-wink gay thing that was perfected by Tony Randall in the Doris Day movies of the 1950s and early 60s?

If [High School Musical] couldn't include an actual gay character, then I sure as hell wish it hadn't included what really is nothing more than a throwback to the 1950's -- the fabulously dressed, singing-and-dancing best friend who brings the straight lovers together in the end. Bleah. It's 2007. Enough already. Give me Calvin on ABC Family's Greek any day of the week.
Michael has more, including a photographic run-down of Ryan's ever-changing roster of hats.

twogayguys-header6.jpegMeanwhile, Michael and I both discuss the brewing "Ryan-gate" controversy on the latest episode of our video blog, Two Gay Guys, as well as the media meme that the new Judd Apatow movie Superbad is also supergay.

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Totally. I think it has to do a lot with people being uncomfortable with teen sexuality - and teen homosexuality puts it front and center in ways that teen heterosexuality doesn't. Well, that and it might have something to do with ratings. What are the films rated? The MPAA doesn't have open doors discussions of what to rate films, and a reference to homosexuality might put a movie up a rating or two.

Ugh. People!

Then again, I haven't seen either movie, so what am I saying?

Thanks for this, Brent. It's a good first post on our site and I hope to read more!