beginning of the film, a girl is shown crying in the office scared to death
of Principal Mullins. While Mullins is trying to be kind, it is clear that
she has been stereotyped into the authoritarian principal. Later on,
during a conversation with Finn, she exposes the fact that she only
presents herself in that manner due to constant pressure from parents.
Principal Mullins claims she “wasn’t always wound this tight,” and it is
clear that the conflict between her and the parents pushes her to behave
as a typical Hollywood principal. Although this contrast does add
humor to the film, it detracts from the opportunity filmmakers have to
challenge the stereotypical roles of administrators in Hollywood movies
and, instead, depicts a principal who is engaging while still maintaining
order. Mullins claims multiple times that she used to be “fun” before
the job, exposing that the conflict with parents keeps her from being
dynamic and, instead, forces her into a stereotypical role. As it is, the
principal, teachers, parents, and students all lose.
Throughout my research, I found countless movies where
combative parent-teacher relationships occur, but I specifically focused
on the four above movies due to their diversity. Despite the years
separating the movies – there are over twenty years between the release
of Teachers and High School Musical – it is clear that even over time, the
stereotypes of teachers and administrators and the way they are pitted
against parents is a highly persistent theme. Overall, despite the
differences among the films in terms of target audience, genre, and plot,
they all possess very similar depictions of parent-teacher relationships.
Although in school movies, parents and teacher relationships are rarely
at the forefront, they are commonly used to push plots forward by
adding conflict and issues. Although not the main storyline, these
relationships portrayed on screen clearly affect our attitudes toward
how these relationships function in the real world, as seen with my
sister’s experiences. It is frustrating that Hollywood doesn’t depict the
ways real life role models such as teachers and parents can truly work
together to accomplish key goals.