Friday, January 9, 2009

The Curse of Disney Channel, Part I

A quick warning: if you like Disney Channel or any of its shows/ movies (High School Musical, Hannah Montana, etc.), then this post is probably not for you. I've been meaning to spew my hatred for the Disney Channel for a while, and it is not going to be pretty.

Once upon a time (so I am told), the Disney Channel actually had standards and presented at least moderately entertaining and interesting shows starring actors with some talent. Unfortunately, even if that time ever really existed, it has come and gone. Walt Disney, who apparently had some very questionable work tactics and ideas (to say the least) would be horrified to see what passes for entertainment on the channel that bears his name.

Quite frankly, the Disney Channel is one of the main hubs of mediocre talent. Along with the upsetting rise of reality television (which is everywhere, but most noticeably on Fox and MTV), the Disney Channel has started foisting some of the most annoying and shrill child actors onto pop culture since Steve Urkel first came on the scene. In order to be on a Disney show, apparently the only things that you need are:
  1. Minimal talent (preferably in acting and singing)
  2. The ability to look really happy and excited while doing inane things
  3. Photogenic but ultimately bland features
Of course, Disney has happened upon some people who surpass these standards. Shia LaBeouf and Keri Russell, both of whom got their starts on a Disney Channel show (Even Stevens and The All New Mickey Mouse Club, respectively) are both prime examples of talent; one could even make the argument that this applies to Justin Timberlake and Christina Aguilera. However, for every genuinely talented star that comes from Disney are at least a dozen mediocre ones that are overexposed on merchandise and in the media.

Take, for instance, Vanessa Hudgens. She's cute and got incredibly (INCREDIBLY) lucky by being in the ubiquitous High School Musical franchise. However, I can't imagine Meryl Streep or even Anne Hathaway worrying that Hudgens is going to present any real competition for roles. Hudgens manages to fulfill all three of the criteria mentioned above. She can act and sing (sort of), she seems extremely perky, and she is pretty but not terribly memorable. Regarding her talent, she's okay, but so are the workers at any given Coldstone Creamery, who must sing for tips (and don't have the luxury of multiple takes). For those of you who want more proof, just check out her big duet in HSM2, where she can't generate any chemistry with Zac Efron (her boyfriend in real life) and manages to suck at lip synching. The scene is the perfect example of negative talent, where she is a virtual black hole that devours any talent in her path. Watching her try to carry a scene by herself is akin to chasing and watching tornadoes: even as you recognize the spectacle you are watching as ultimately destructive and threatening to your well-being, you can't tear your eyes away.