the efron effect

Is ‘Glee’ Making Show Tunes Cool Among Young People?


In today’s Times, David Kamp, author of The United States of Arugula, posits:

“Something weird and profound has happened in the four years since the original ‘High School Musical’ movie was first shown on the Disney Channel and surprised everyone with its smash success: the musical-theater idiom has regained its currency, and is enjoying what may be its greatest popularity among young people since the pre-rock era. We’re raising a generation of Broadway babies.”

Well, at least he is: “My daughter … has seen ‘Hair’ four times,” Kamp explains. “She spends summers at a theater-arts sleepaway camp in the Catskills … She … watches ‘Glee’ raptly.”

Kamp raises the point that Glee is wildly popular and that “kids in this generation have a greater acceptance of who they are and what they want to be.” But he might be overestimating the “coolness” of musical theater and the tolerance of the generation he writes about:

“Whereas the high-schoolers of my era wouldn’t admit to liking show tunes for fear of seeming gay, those of today wouldn’t even necessarily conflate the two things, and besides, what’s wrong with being gay? … Already, they have effected one measurable change: ‘theater geek’ is kind of an oxymoron now, isn’t it?”

’The Glee Generation’ [NYT]

Is ‘Glee’ Making Show Tunes Cool Among Young People?