MNET’s Fresh Hell: Flogging a rotting corpse

2008-08-05 11:33
Ignoring HSM:SSA's similarities to Idols is like ignoring the giant pink elephant still standing in the room long after the effects of the hallucinogenic drug you took three days ago have worn off. Both shows have weekend, 90-minute prime-time slots, followed by a Monday evening results show; both make a whole bunch of emotionally immature people of questionable talent feel way more important than anyone ever should and both give a whole bunch of DA supporters the illusion that for once, their vote might actually mean something. It doesn't of course, because when it comes to voting in reality shows, even if you win, you’re still a loser.

If Idols was the Spur, High School Musical would be Saddles - a cheap, exploitative knock-off of something that was pretty much cheap and exploitative to begin with, spewed forth by greed-driven ex-luvvies and bandwagon-hopping greaseballs who’ve turned their ability to blind their dull audience with well-polished turds into luxury coastal mansions. It’s the Joey to Idols's Friends. It's what The Whole Ten Yards is to The Whole Nine Yards, what Paradise Regained is to Paradise Lost and what the X-Files movies are to any given season of the TV series. I’m not saying it's crap – I’m saying it's worse. It's crap's vomit after crap went out on a bender and spent the entire Sunday hugging the toilet bowl crying and swearing to never drink again. Now just in case you're blissfully unaware, the new reality TV show is basically the leading role auditions for the South African stage production of the Disney super-mega- über hit TV movie of the same name, which has since spawned at least two sequels. HSM is about a group of squeaky clean, pulchritudinous cookie-cutters who somehow escape getting the bubbles bashed out of them on a daily basis and put on a – wait for it – high school musical, and apparently this causes all sorts of complications or something. I have no idea. There's no way I'm sitting through an entire Disney movie just so I can confirm what I already know: HSM is the essence of lame. I know this with all the conviction that you know your god loves you, just from looking at the posters.

As a combination of two things that suck big time, HSM:SSA had little chance of being anything other than crass, artless garbage for an audience of basket weavers in constant danger of choking on their own drool - but I know what you’re thinking. Surely there's at least some entertainment to be had in the miserable failures that come to the auditions only to make complete jackasses out of themselves?

In a word, no. HSM:SSA is the Disneyfied version of Idols, and in Disney's version of reality, bitter disappointment, cruel laughter and the expression on people's faces when they finally realise they're going to be nothing more than faceless wage slaves for the rest of their lives is discreetly edited out. There are one or two shots of teary failure, but that's about it. The show is all about being positive and supportive, replacing Randall Abraham’s decisive "You’re crap!" with Pieter Torien’s more reserved, "Sorry, love...", which merely makes rejection patronising.

HSM:SSA will have many viewers longing for the days children were told to be seen and not heard. Personally, I'd be happy if the judges were just given guns.

Chris McEvoy

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