LOS ANGELES, CA – In a category packed with worthy nominees, the Disney Channel movie High School Musical took home the Emmy Award on Sunday for Best Television Programming With Gay Subtext. The Emmy was presented by former West Wing stars Bradley Whitford and Rob Lowe to Musical director Kenny Ortega, who won the Oscar for Gay Subtext in 1993 for his work on Newsies.
The victory for High School Musical was an upset in a category that featured four solid returning nominees: Arrested Development, Everwood , Smallville, and The O.C. The nominations caused some controversy, as gay subtext fans were disappointed by the omission of high school detective drama Veronica Mars. Shrugged one Emmy insider.
Although FOX studios had launched a marketing campaign for its hit show Prison Break, the show was ruled ineligible for the category under the â€œIf it takes place in a prison, it probably isn’t subtext clause.
Some Hollywood experts had predicted a win for Arrested Development as a fitting farewell to the show that spent three seasons with the character Tobias FÃ¼nke mining the English language for the gayest possible double entendres. However, even Emmy voters looking to pay tribute to Arrested Development could not ignore the blatant gay subtext of High School Musical. â€œThey had me at the title,â€ confessed one Emmy voter.
High School Musical, which quickly became a sensation among pre-teen Disney Channel viewers, tells the story of a jock and a brain who cause major upset to the status quo of their cliquish school when they audition for the school musical. Although none of the characters is openly gay, the flames burn bright across the screen throughout the movie. The reigning school star is a triple threat who sings romantic duets with his despotic sister, and who has a tendency towards tight pants and colorful hats that accent his stylish wardrobe. In the gayest onscreen occurrence, he shares a brief moment with a sensitive athlete who has been mocked by his peers for his love of baking.
The movie features countless other ambiguously gay characters, including a reclusive composer who mysteriously dons a tuxedo and bowler hat that would make any drag king proud, and a basketball team that is suspiciously agreeable to choreography. While the network shows nominated featured more screen time devoted to shirtless male horseplay, it was the incredibly gay singing and dancing that propelled High School Musical to victory.
This year’s ceremony marked the tenth year that the Emmy for Gay Subtext, known informally as the HoYay! Award, has been presented. The Emmy was first awarded in 1996 to the show Xena: Warrior Princess.