The latest Disney Channel Original Movie will be a musical about zombies and cheerleaders attending the same high school, because why the hell not.
According to Entertainment Weekly, the movie will deal with “familiar themes of acceptance, tolerance, kindness, and friendship with its tale of zombie high school students integrating into a new school, Seabrook High. Seabrook is a suburban town obsessed with tradition, conformity, football, and cheerleading, but they’re in for a major shake-up when students from Zombietown transfer to Seabrook High and struggle to coexist alongside human students. When a fierce cheerleader, Addison (Meg Donnelly), and zombie football star, Zed (Milo Manheim), become friends, they partner to help unite their school and community.”
Disney Channel also tweeted out the below trailer.
— Disney Channel (@DisneyChannel) January 5, 2018
I always appreciate commitment to a bit, and between this and Descendants, Disney Channel is going full-in on the ‘ridiculous fantasy musicals’ market. (I mean, that tweet actually says “Zoms vs. Poms.” No shame.)
However, using zombies as a metaphor for the integration of segregated high school districts is certainly … a choice. As has been discussed in critiques of everything from Bright to Ex Machina, using sci-fi and fantasy creatures as metaphors for oppressed peoples is a tricky, fraught storytelling decision that rarely works out well. It usually ends up feeling clunky, reinforcing racial or sexist stereotypes, or weirdly suggesting that people of different races really are dramatically biologically different from one another. (Rather than, y’know, members of the same species.) This trope is especially problem-prone when the oppressed creatures in the film are played by real-life white dudes. It can be done, for sure. But it requires the sort of thought and nuance that I don’t necessarily anticipate in a green-and-pink Disney Channel musical set in a zombie high school.
That said, I’m still not totally sure how the zombie element of this movie will play out. Using the zombies as metaphors for racial oppression and segregation could become seriously uncomfortable, but using them as metaphors for, say, mall goths would be some A+ stuff.
Really, we all just want Descendants 3, but until then ZOMBIES will premiere on the Disney Channel on Friday, February 16 at 8 P.M.
(Via EW; image: Disney Channel)
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