Picture this: it’s a balmy Friday evening in summer 2008. You’ve had a busy day alternating between Club Penguin and Webkinz accounts on the clunky desktop in your family’s designated computer room. Your “High School Musical” CD has been playing all day in the background as you enjoy the spoils of childhood.
Then, you suddenly remember that tonight is the premiere of Disney Channel’s latest original movie: a musical titled “Camp Rock,” starring Demi Lovato and the Jonas Brothers. While you’re intrigued by the premise and already love the JoBros, you’re not quite sure what to expect of this latest Disney musical endeavor.
Turns out that, after your first viewing, you’re obsessed. The songs are catchy, the drama is juicy, and you’re jealous that Demi Lovato gets to sing with THE Joe Jonas. You immediately start learning the “Too Cool” choreography and performing the “whatever major loser!” hand signal at your siblings every chance you get (just me?).
Fast forward 12 years and “Camp Rock” is suddenly everywhere again. Courtesy of TikTok and ample free time for social media, the iconic movie, which later spawned a 2010 sequel, is back in the limelight. The stars have fully reembraced the outdoorsy singalong spectacular — and the melodramatic acting that came along with it.
The resurgence began when the Jonas Brothers recreated a famous scene from the movie — shaggy hair and all— on their official TikTok account. A few months later, following in the style of memes poking fun at Debby Ryan’s idiosyncratic style of acting, TikTok creator @iamchrxstopher posted a hilarious series of videos reenacting some of “Camp Rock”’s now cringe-inducing scenes. The scenes in question contained a mixture of schmaltz and snark that only Disney Channel could get away with. Somehow, our tween selves perceived these scenes as the epitome of acting, but, in retrospect, it’s hard not to laugh at the ridiculousness of the spastic dancing and overenunciated lines (in an appreciative, nostalgic way of course.)
The “Camp Rock” renaissance went to the next level when this viral TikTok video revealed that the actual Camp Rock set exists, and you can visit it. Many hardcore fans made post-pandemic plans to visit the campsite located in Ontario, Canada (only a 16.5 hour drive from Georgetown University!) to take photos and live out their untapped childhood dreams of attending the home of the Campfire Jam, the performance session that created the masterpiece that is “Too Cool.” I have to admit, I also joined in on the fun on my TikTok, guessing where the main characters would be today in their lives. After “Camp Rock” became relevant and omnipresent once again, the rest of the film’s stars joined in on the fun.
Actress Anna Maria Perez de Tagle, who played Ella, enemy-turned-friend of main character Mitchie in both movies, recreated some of her most well-known scenes on TikTok. She remade her confrontation with queen bee Tess, fully embodying the spirit and sass of her character a decade later. The “Your lip gloss is SO not glossy anymore!” zing still packs an acerbic punch.
Then, Alyson Stoner made her TikTok debut reenacting her… alternative electronic keyboard solo at the infamous Pajama Jam, garnering over five million views. Finally, megastar Demi Lovato, who played protagonist Mitchie Torres in the series, rewatched the movie and recorded highlights for her fans to see on Instagram. The actress and singer could not stop laughing at her self-proclaimed awkward scenes, much to the delight of her fans. The line memorably uttered by Demi Lovato in reference to Alyson Stoner’s character Caitlin’s questionable music skills — “She’s really good!”— also went viral as a TikTok sound.
The potent “Camp Rock” nostalgia continues to thrive on social media as fans look back to simpler times when dreams of one day winning the Final Jam superseded more practical ones, such as grades and job prospects. With the film’s stars fully embracing the revered movie, maybe a reunion will one day happen? Lovato said back in 2017 that she would be open to filming “Camp Rock 3” as long as it was R rated. Since the film’s original fans are now grown up, this could be a fitting end to the trilogy.
Perhaps we could get a 2020 version in which Camp Rock pioneers gave socially-distanced concerts while Mitchie launched a viral campaign with the “Can’t Back Down” dance to encourage voting? Nonetheless, I’m glad this endorphin-producing cinematic masterpiece is back in our lives, and remember to stream it on Disney+ whenever you need a joyful pick-me-up amid all the chaos.
Parker Strubhar is a graduate student in the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences. Current Nostalgia appears online every other week.