Sex, Scandal, and the Disney Channel


Published: September 27, 2007

Vanessa Hudgens is one of the stars of the highly successful made-for-TV movies “High School Musical” and its sequel “High School Musical 2.” She is also the latest star whose nude photos have leaked on the Internet. This type of notoriety is not as shocking to the American public as it once was. Perhaps Janet’s bare breast at the Super Bowl, Paris’ video and Britney’s underwear deficiencies constantly being caught on camera have made Southern Evangelicals stop fighting the good fight.

When I asked people what they thought of the “scandal” most said, “Who is Vanessa Hudgens?” I myself have never seen these “High School Musical” films that everyone speaks of so highly. I didn’t think I had to in order to write this article. I already know Hudgens from her little known music album “V,” which was released Sept. 26, 2006 with her single “Come Back to Me,” which is a cookie-cutter, R&B-infused, teen-pop song that was quickly forgotten. The rest of the album was less than inspiring. Don’t get me wrong, though; in the first delusional weeks after a break-up, “Come Back to Me” can prove an infectious anthem.

The responses to Hudgen’s photos were mixed. There was no large public outcry for or against Hudgens. This is probably because she is not at a high profile level of fame or because society is becoming more lax in its response to nudity. Fordham University professor of communication and media studies, Paul Livinson, was interviewed in a Sept. 13 New York Times online article called “Revealing Photos Are Becoming Passe?” Livinson said, “I do think that general attitudes about nudity are becoming more relaxed, but these changes take time, which is why there are still mixed responses.”

My personal response is: big deal, so she showed a little T&A, maybe now people over the age of 12 will know who she is. The Internet and technologies such as video phones and social networking sites allow for instant flow of information as well as nudity—good for the general public, bad for celebrities.

It is in my well-informed opinion that celebrities, like Britney Spears, Colin Farrell and even heiress Paris Hilton, should understand that persons at their level of fame should never be seen nude, but all have been seen showing the goods. It’s a matter of maintaining a certain celebrity image. Case in point, when Britney Spears was BFF with Paris Hilton, she was slammed by every tabloid. Why? Because her image, up until recently, was the innocent-all-American-girl-next-door. For Britney to act like Paris Hilton and to have her baby maker photographed was disastrous. Why should we expect Vanessa Hudgens to understand this? Hudgens is only 18 years old and probably never expected the “High School Musical” movies to launch her to fame. I would blame her management for not informing her that taking nude photos once you’re on television is bad idea.

The fact is this: Hudgens is a representative of a wildly popular Disney franchise, which made her famous to every 12-year-old girl.Hudgens had a responsibility to herself and to Disney to maintain her faux innocence and be in a sham relationship with Zac Efron; it is a responsibility to herself as an actress to maintain a certain public persona, regardless of what kink she’s into behind closed doors. What she did was irresponsible, but she’s young; she has a whole career in front of her, and Disney is just her first step.

Her image is now blemished, and she has to realize that she is no longer “innocent” in the public eye. This blemish, however, might work to her advantage. Hudgens should take a lesson from Lindsay Lohan (who was also an “innocent” Disney actress). She should re-invent herself after the final “Musical” movie and become “Vanessa,” Disney’s sex-tart girl-next-door-gone-naughty.. Sex always sells and if Vanessa Hudgens is offering, I say, “Yes, please!”