Monday, August 10, 2009

High School Floozical: An Open Letter to Vanessa Hudgens

Dear Vanessa,

Oh, honey. Not again.

Two years after your nudie-pic scandal nearly cost you the lead in High School Musical 3: did you learn nothing?

Here's the thing. I know you don't want to be Gabriella Montez forever. I mean, who would? Sure, your dresses were supercute and your hair extensions enviable. You had some adorable duets with Zac Efron/Troy Bolton, from the karaoke surprise "Start of Something New" (okay, it was Drew Seeley's voice, but still) to the surprisingly genuine sweetness of "You Are the Music in Me" to the fun, nostalgic "I Just Wanna Be With You" (he smeared paint on you!). And you got to execute some kickass choreography, courtesy of Kenny Ortega. I wish my senior prom had been so chock-full of dancy goodness.

However, Gabriella had her share of gagworthy moments: come on, was the treehouse love song "Right Here, Right Now" necessary? I think not. Even twelve-year-olds know that two teenagers even semi-alone after the big game would be making out, not singing about how their heart loves the view. And believe me, we know you weren't presented with the biggest of acting challenges, even for a Disney movie. As my mom said after being introduced to the HSM franchise, "All she does is moon over Troy." After the first movie, we never got to see Gabriella the mathlete, which disappointed me because smart girls are cool. Let's face it: Sharpay with her braggadoccio overshadowing her self-esteem issues was more interesting. And she got way better songs.

Look, Jessica Biel went through this same thing in her 7th Heaven heyday. Her photos weren't leaked, but she posed for some gross dude-mag with her ta-tas hanging out after getting pissed that she lost the lead in American Beauty to Thora Birch. (Conveniently forgetting that Thora Birch could ACT.) I like you way better than Jessica Biel, Van. You don't have to stoop to that level.

And up until now, you were doing stuff right. The public had all but forgotten about photos leaked in 2007, which in pop culture years translates to an eon ago. I didn't tell anyone because I get enough crap for liking HSM, but your single "Sneakernight" has a proud place on my iPod. Your new movie Bandslam looks cute and fun, and you're branching out by playing an alternagirl (we know she's alterna because in the preview she's carrying The Perks of Being a Wallflower!). Granted, most alternagirls don't look like you, but it's mainstream Hollywood, so whatevs.

Dude, I made excuses for you back then. Teens do stupid stuff. I know I did. Plus, it's not like you were racking up DUI's, therefore running the risk of hurting innocent people. You weren't snorting coke off a hooker's unmentionables. Hell, you didn't even have a sex tape. You had a couple of pictures for your boyfriend that allegedly fell into the wrong hands. Sure, it was embarrassing and hopefully none of your little-girl fans saw them, but stuff happens. (I'm not going to get into the issue of you as a role model. First off, I don't have kids. Second, I survived Pee Wee Herman getting arrested for being a perv-o. What I'm concerned about is your career.)

Now you are two years older and one would hope you got wiser. As far as the public knows, you're no longer under contract for HSM and I don't think you're officially with Disney anymore, though I could be wrong. You are free as a bird to play a drug addicted prostitute in a gritty indie drama (and speaking of gritty indie dramas, you did a nice job with your blink-and-you'll-miss-it role as Evan Rachel Wood's nerdy pal in Thirteen) or try your hand at directing. I'll be honest with ya, sweetheart: you don't have the charisma of Zac Efron or even Ashley Tisdale. But you're cute and can play good-natured. You could do okay.

So what's with the new nudies? What exactly are you trying to prove? Do some homework: you need not go further than your home base of Los Angeles. I hate to keep bringing up Lindsay Lohan, but she's the poster child for growing pains gone horribly, horribly wrong. Miley Cyrus is slowly but surely catching up. Granted, I don't know your family situation, and I'm a strong believer that a child actor needs at least one grounded adult to flourish beyond their youth, career- or otherwise. That said, you're a grown-up now, so it's time to stop blaming your stage parents if that's the case. Do you really want to end up on an E! reality show? I mean, I inexplicably like Kim Kardashian, but unlike her, you have actual talent. Don't squander it. Also, two words: Labor Pains. Just . . . no. You're better than that.

And another thing: if this is a PR move, you need to fire your publicist IMMEDIATELY because he/she is terrible. If you want any career longevity whatsoever, do not go the fame-whore route. Meryl Streep didn't, and neither should you. (I'm not saying you're Meryl Streep, but you could surprise all of us.)

If you don't want a career anymore, that's cool. But make a graceful exit: fade away, don't crash and burn. If you're smart, you can probably live off your HSM dough and not have to do another thing for the rest of your life. If Zac's the one for you, hold on to him; if he's not (for whatever reason, and I think you know what I'm talking about), set him free. Whatever you choices from here on out, keep it classy. Don't court any further embarrassment or danger.

Again, I'm not going to touch the role model issue. But like it or not, you ARE a public figure. By doing your job (acting) well enough to become famous, you lost some of your privacy rights. Maybe it's not fair, but that's the way it works. And because you are a product of the Disney machine, people are going to be interested in you. And they will not hesitate to make you a sacrificial lamb due to one or two poor decisions.
Prove them wrong.



P.S. If you think I'm creepy, fear not. I'm a 29-year-old female musical theatre nerd. I'm the least of your worries.
P.P.S. I'd totally be your publicist, though.

1 comment:

  1. I am SO glad Jessica Biel lost that part.

    You have an award here.