Essay 1:Identity on the Musical Stage

So far this semester we have watched a couple of musicals that I find interest in. The two that I will talk about today is The Newsies and The Prom, because both of the films showcase identity on a musical stage. There is an LGBTQ+ image on this blog because of the character Emma from The Prom, who was a lesbian high school student who was treated unfairly by her environment because of “her life choices”. In todays society, I believe there is more acceptance for the LGBTQ+ community especially here at Vanderbilt University. Although there are many places in the country that have people with different mindsets, in which the film showed Indiana to be a state where lesbians are discriminated. The music authors did a great job with aligning the lyrics to Emma’s adversity she was facing at school. In the film Newsies the character Jack Kelley showed masculinity throughout the performance of songs and acting. The songs Seize the day and Santa Fe performances demonstrated the stereotypes of men being tough characters.

The Prom’s main character Emma started her first song of the musical saying, “note to self don’t be gay in Indiana”. She said this right after seeing a girl she was attracted to in the hallway that looked at her seductive. She said this looking nervous and putting her head down slightly and a lower tone of voice. This showed the resistance of being open with sexuality to people who against gay people. That first lyric ultimately shaped the tone for the rest of the film and gave a glimpse of the circumstances she was going through in her environment. Her school James-Madison High school was approaching their prom and the principle Mrs. Greene made it clear that the school would not allow students of the same sex to go to prom together. Emma did not like this approach and wanted to be able bring a girl along with her to prom. This caused a problem that the nation would hear about and bring reporters from different states to take heed to the matter in Indiana. There was an obvious low acceptance from her peers at school and the parents of students. The character Nick told Emma, “Why don’t you exchange her with a guy”, when talking about a foreign exchange student she was planning to bring to prom. Nick said it alongside another male friend with smiles on their faces in a taunting manner. Emma had an open mouth and an embarrassed facial expression especially with this encounter being right after getting out the pool. It seemed to be a situation where a straight man wanted to flirt with a lesbian women seeing her in a swimsuit, which can qualify as sexual harassment at the high school. It was clear that Emma was bullied at the school and simply because her sexuality, there is a scene where Emma is getting balls thrown at her by a group of girls for the song name Just Breath.

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