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"Ugh. We can't with this show anymore."
February 22, 2012 8:12 AM   Subscribe

Tom & Lorenzo: "A show in 2012 with a large teen audience and a proportionately large gay audience will find itself dealing with the issue of gay teenagers generally and anti-gay bullying specifically at some point. We would have expected no less from Glee and we support the show’s efforts to consider the lives of young gays and help educate other people as to what those lives are really like. But... there comes a point when the urge to educate and be respectful of a group of disenfranchised people tips over into inadvertently redefining them in a new way: victim." (warning: spoilers for last night's episode of Glee)
posted by flex (71 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
"bloated self-importance and treacly glurge" describes Glee perfectly.

Not that there is anything wrong with that (in the Sienfelding manner). Combined with the ProTools/AutoTuned song numbers and ridiculous villains, though, and you have a show only die-hards can love.

But a segment of your viewing population will only take the pandering for so long.
posted by clvrmnky at 8:21 AM on February 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


Show us a campaign against gay teen bullying called “THIS SHIT HAS TO STOP RIGHT NOW” and we’ll sign on in nano-seconds.

This.

I'm still watching "Glee" but I've got 2 or 3 episodes backed up on the DVR right now. Maybe I should just give it up, and re-watch the first season. It's gone from "Freaks and Geeks with musical numbers" to just another teen soap.
posted by JoanArkham at 8:31 AM on February 22, 2012 [8 favorites]


Glee: Kidz Bop for adults that are too old for Kidz Bop.
posted by Talez at 8:32 AM on February 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


Yep. After last night, I'm pretty much over it. For two years, I've said that "the football player" should be Kurt's boyfriend. But no, we had to have Prince Charming. That predictably fizzled. They had a chance last week, and blew it. Then they REALLY blew it last night.

Also, I'm pissed off that I'm pissed off by episodic television. Grrrr...
posted by halfbuckaroo at 8:33 AM on February 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


For those of us who aren't Glee watchers, can someone give a quick summary (full of [SPOILERS]) of last night's episode, and why it was so outraging?
posted by benito.strauss at 8:34 AM on February 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


I read Tom and Lorenzo every day, but generally skip the show recaps (especially Glee, which lost me at least a season ago, due to aforementioned "treacly glurge"). Thanks for posting this, I would have missed it otherwise.

I do like the "It Gets Better" campaign, but T&L are right that the campaign is probably not resonating with the people it is intended to - troubled gay youth. Still, I think it has merit. I think it's a good eye opener for some straight adults on what their gay friends/family/colleagues had to survive, and maybe through that it inspires them to be kinder and gentler to the gay kids in their lives. As a message to gay kids, though, yeah probably not what they want or need to hear.

I understand the point that the It Gets Better campaign is targeting the victims and telling them that they just have to suck it up for now, and that this is problematic. I do think that there is some honesty there that is useful though. Sure, on a cultural level we all need to work so that this isn't the case, but we can't pretend that we are already there. On an individual level, sometimes all we can do is grit our teeth and tell ourselves "this too shall pass" while we seek out allies and supports to help us survive.

Glee is so damn heavy-handed though, that it can't express any message with subtlety. Poor gay kids, always suffering, it sure would suck to be gay, huh? That must be a life of unending misery.
posted by arcticwoman at 8:34 AM on February 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Not to mention gay-on-gay bashing. Great job, Fox.
posted by halfbuckaroo at 8:36 AM on February 22, 2012


Tom and Lorenzo is consistently my favourite fashion-and-pop-culture-blog. The two are so sassy! Love it.
posted by Phire at 8:37 AM on February 22, 2012


Glee is so damn heavy-handed though, that it can't express any message with subtlety.

This is major network broadcast television during prime time. Can you point to a show in that category that DOES know how to express any message with subtlety? The segments of our population that need to get certain messages: gay people are human, some of your own kids/family/friends are gay, bullies are assholes - these people don't swim in the subtlety pool.
posted by spicynuts at 8:37 AM on February 22, 2012 [8 favorites]


Clearly we're going to have to dance fight it out.
posted by The Whelk at 8:38 AM on February 22, 2012 [18 favorites]


Are they still getting ready for regionals?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:38 AM on February 22, 2012 [13 favorites]


Clearly we're going to have to dance fight it out.

YOU GONNA GET F'D IN THE A! YOU GONNA GET SERVED, HOMIE!
posted by Talez at 8:41 AM on February 22, 2012


Has anyone thought of doing a goth Glee parody and calling it 'Gloom?'
posted by jonmc at 8:42 AM on February 22, 2012 [33 favorites]


Are they still getting ready for regionals?

What the hell are regionals?
posted by bondcliff at 8:42 AM on February 22, 2012 [17 favorites]


@jonmc, no, because such a show would just be a documentary following a group of kids at any mid-western high-school.
posted by clvrmnky at 8:44 AM on February 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


It has nothing to do with Glee, but the February 6th issue of the New Yorker has a fascinating article about the events leading up to the suicide of Tyler Clementi. It touches on many of the themes raised in this post.
posted by diogenes at 8:45 AM on February 22, 2012


I've mentioned this on here before, but if you are looking for a realistic and supportive portrayal of a gay character on teen tv, check out Pretty Little Liars. The show never treats its lesbian character Emily as a freak, spokesperson, or source of titillation. Although the gayness has caused a bit of friction, especially with her parents, it is clear she is loved and supported by friends and family. More importantly, "gay" is far from the only word that describes her character, I don't even know if it would make my top five.
posted by yellowbinder at 8:46 AM on February 22, 2012


What the hell are regionals?

I thought it was national lower zone semis?
posted by Phire at 8:48 AM on February 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


I do like the "It Gets Better" campaign, but T&L are right that the campaign is probably not resonating with the people it is intended to - troubled gay youth. Still, I think it has merit.

Sorry to go mildly off-topic here, but I did find the It Gets Better videos invaluable when I was going through a very bad patch last autumn. Watching people tell me -- tell the whole world, effectively, that there was indeed a reason to keep going through it all, and stay alive because I was loved by people who hadn't even met me, really provided a turning point, a touchstone that I could return to when I needed it.

(FWIW, I'm queer, but the depression was unrelated to that, or to bullying or, um, anything that IGB was founded for, frankly.)

For an attempt at on-topic: yes, television is not known for subtlety, especially when it's trying to communicate to people who haven't yet grasped that people deserve respect wherever they fall along the Kinsey scale. I'd be fine with dropped bricks if there was also a subtle option, for those of us who want to watch decent drama featuring GLBT people.
posted by kalimac at 8:48 AM on February 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


For those of us who aren't Glee watchers, can someone give a quick summary (full of [SPOILERS]) of last night's episode, and why it was so outraging?

I haven't watched this episode yet, but the AV Club has a quick summary of the episode.
posted by drezdn at 8:48 AM on February 22, 2012


What the hell are regionals?

They're this close, bondcliff!
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:56 AM on February 22, 2012 [6 favorites]


kalimac, anyone who is subjected to Welsh weather probably needs to be a survivor in more than one area.
posted by jaduncan at 8:58 AM on February 22, 2012


Do teenagers ......watch this show? Cause like with Rookie I have a sneaking suspicion the actual audience are all 28 year old culture bloggers.
posted by The Whelk at 8:58 AM on February 22, 2012 [14 favorites]


Thanks, drezdn.
posted by benito.strauss at 8:59 AM on February 22, 2012


Glee is just background noise, while one waits for "New Girls" and "Raising Hope" to come on.

This part of the linked article struck me as odd though:
And can we just say, as two people who chose the marriage route, that Kurt’s fantasy scene for Karofsky had an underlying message of “See? In ten years, you’ll be JUST LIKE A STRAIGHT PERSON, with your office job, spouse, and child!”
Considering that Karofsky was hungering love and affection, it seemed reasonable to give him a comforting image of having all that, eventually.

But overall, yes Glee been mind-numbingly predictable for a while, i.e the Consequences of TextingTM.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:01 AM on February 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Do teenagers ......watch this show?

From my experiences at a used music/bookstore, and new music/books... There's definitely an audience of teens and preteens.
posted by drezdn at 9:04 AM on February 22, 2012


Ugh, Glee. Stopped watching somewhere in the middle of the second season. The storylines with Kurt were generally decent back then. But everything else was basically a hot fucking mess.
posted by kmz at 9:06 AM on February 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


My wife was a big fan and I would sit through the musical numbers with gritted teeth, waiting for Sue to say something funny. But by the "all-Britney" episode it jumped the shark as thoroughly as a TV show can. We haven't watched it since. The best episode was when Kirk became the kicker for the football team. What his dad said after the game was pure gold.
posted by Ber at 9:09 AM on February 22, 2012


Kirk - Kurt, man is that a Freudian error for a nerd.
posted by Ber at 9:10 AM on February 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


SPOILER ALERT - Glee for Non-Gleeks.

AV Club's summary is good, but it leaves out the Kurt/Karofsky dynamic of Karofsky initially bullying Kurt badly, then cornering him in an empty stairwell and "hate kissing" him. Kurt freaks out and leaves the school. We know Karofsky is hot for Kurt, but nobody else does.

Kurt has to come back to the school, so the entire staff and student body turns on Karofsky, and makes him move to another school. We don't hear from him for a season and a half.

Last week we have Valentine's Day, and Kurt starts getting secret valentines and finally an invitation for a face to face in a restaurant. He thinks it's Blaine. Gorilla suit walks in with balloons, and Kurt tries to figure out who it is, but fails. Gorilla takes off head, and it's Karofsky. Kurt freaks, but handles it. Meanwhile, a football player from Karofsky's new school witnesses the whole thing and blabs. Cut to this week's episode.
posted by halfbuckaroo at 9:11 AM on February 22, 2012 [5 favorites]


Re: The audience for Glee, something that has always been a mystery to me. My useless anecdotal experience: The only people whom I know who watch this show are straight, politically liberal but personally conventional women ages 30-45. Every gay man I know who has seen it finds it incredibly insulting for the portrayal of gay men/teens as fabulous yet victimized.

And then as a music fan, I can't listen to the auto-tuned pop versions of classic songs -- same reason I can't stand Julie Taymor's Across the Universe.
posted by Saxon Kane at 9:17 AM on February 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


Last night is the first time I've watched more than 10 minutes of Glee not in a gay bar (read: sober) since the pilot, so I guess I was just preparing for this. I'm aware of what happens on the show but can't speak to its overall arc.

I'm of two or three minds on this. One of them agrees with a large part of their post, and sees their points. The other is "crappy after school special with covers of pop songs acts like a crappy after school special with covers of pop songs, film at 11."

But the biggest one disagrees with the premise. Because the show has many, many flaws, I'm not seeing the major damage here. Maybe it's because, - despite being full of talented singers and actors, I don't expect this show to be, honestly, any good at all -- but I felt like the message of 'being a cog in the machine' -- despite the phrasing used in the post -- is exactly what a lot of kids are looking for. Yes, teenagers are very focused on the now, but those that are most troubled, in my experience, are worried exactly about that future.

If you spend any time talking to suicidal gay kids these days, they aren't The Kurt or The Blaine. They aren't the smart, talented kid with the bitchy comebacks and a bench deep with friends who have their backs. They aren't the kind, handsome Prince Charming who everyone loves so much that them being gay is an afterthought. And they sure as fuck aren't one dating the other. They're the kid who DOES want to grow up to be just like mom and dad. They look at the media representation as it stands and think -- 'sure, it gets better for them, but what about me? I don't want to be in the theater or be an artist. I just want to be get a job, come home for the holidays, maybe with my kids, and have the people who love me now for the person they think I am" -- except for one thing that feels like both a small difference and an insurmountable one. They look at the options and don't recognize themselves in either world without suppressing who they know they are or being a completely different type of person. It's not just a question of coming out or killing themselves. It's about fear of what happens when they do come out and the sacrifices they would have to make to get there.

So if you've got a person telling them -- yes, the life you describe is possible, I'm a boring ass example -- that's great. But who's to say it keeps working once they leave the room or get off the phone or off line? And it only works if you've already decided to come to talk about it. Which often means you're already considering suicide as an option.

Is Glee going to solve this problem? Hell no, but seeing a gay character's suicide sympathetically trending on Twitter is a lot better than just pretending Queer Eye for the Straight Guy is some sort of magic acceptance just because, hey, look, we aren't always the victim anymore. I didn't like the "noble, diseased victim" trope any more than Tom and Lorenzo did, but, in a lot of ways, it worked. To pretend GLBT kids aren't victims -- often of their own minds -- is nice for those of us who aren't that age anymore, but it's also wrong headed. I'd have a huge problem if a miserable gay teenager was the only example of teenage queers on Glee. But fact is, he's a secondary character whose misery is set up as a counterpoint to gay kids who are much healthier and happier. Having one exist without the other would be much more dangerous.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 9:18 AM on February 22, 2012 [28 favorites]


Combined with the ProTools/AutoTuned

Hey hey hey waitaminute, let's not throw the ProTools out with the bathwater.
posted by Hoopo at 9:33 AM on February 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


Glee's audience: yes, teenagers watch it. Lots and lots and lots of teenagers.

Lots.

(Source: every frickin' tumblr I would like to follow for Sherlock news and photos that I can't follow because of all the frickin' Glee)

And no, I'm not saying everyone on tumblr is a teenager, but these kids put their ages on their tumblr pages and... yeah.
posted by tzikeh at 9:38 AM on February 22, 2012


Do teenagers ......watch this show?

I suspect the High School Drama Club contingent of the Glee fandom is quite large. (If my and my friends' devotion to Fame in the 80's is anything to go by.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:39 AM on February 22, 2012


28 year old culture bloggers.

I resent that comment, sir. I'll have you know I'm turning 30 this year.

-Chandler X. Tate-Highsmith III - www.inyerculture.baconista.blogspot.com
posted by Doleful Creature at 9:47 AM on February 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


Do teenagers ......watch this show? Cause like with Rookie I have a sneaking suspicion the actual audience are all 28 year old culture bloggers.

My gay teenaged son does. He loves it.

But he hates Xanadu. He calls it "bad gay".

I don't understand teenagers.

On the subject of bullying - my son related once that sometimes kids pick on him for being gay or whatever. He says he's not to worried about it though, because he knows that "if it ever got out of hand, his dad would stomp their guts out".

Which, while not entirely accurate, does demonstrate that just showing you got a kids back can make a world of difference to them.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 9:52 AM on February 22, 2012 [15 favorites]


My wife and our tween daughter watch Glee together. I want to like it a lot more than I do, but the show has always felt like nostalgia porn.
posted by Fuka at 9:56 AM on February 22, 2012


tzikeh: Tumblr Savious. (That's the Chrome link, but there's a greasemonkey script and probably some other ways to use it too.)
posted by Jeanne at 10:05 AM on February 22, 2012


I watch Glee because I'm a sucker for campy nostalgia, and it's the one thing I have in common to talk about with my tween step-daughter.
posted by Nimmie Amee at 10:09 AM on February 22, 2012


At this moment in history, maybe Glee is like Uncle Tom's Cabin. Whether it is "good" is missing the point.
posted by Glomar response at 10:28 AM on February 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


I stopped watching Glee a long time ago, but the kerfuffle over this episode reminds me of one of the last episodes I bothered to watch.

It was when Kurt and Finn had just moved in together. Kurt had a crush on Finn, so he not only engineered their respective single parents coming together, but he was also trying to make their room more shared and open, with the obvious subtext that he could get romantically close to the guy he likes. Eventually, Finn gets so creeped out that he calls Kurt a "fag" (or equivalent), and the episode ended with Finn apologizing for that.

I hated that episode. I have no sympathy for people who call gay people fags; that aspect wasn't what bothered me. What bothered me was how Kurt was acting in just about precisely the way a homophobe would conceive a gay person - he uses social manipulation (and even the power of interior decorating!) to try to get with the straight guy. I mean, hell, in the process, Kurt disrupts Finn's family and his home in order to get with Finn.

If a right-wing crank wrote that story, we'd call it hate fanfic, but since it's under the Glee aegis, people gave it a pass. It seemed to set back positive portrayals of gay characters by a few decades, and if I recall correctly, it didn't even give Kurt (or the show) a moment to realize how creepy and inappropriate his behavior was.

Imagine some straight guy telling you, "oh man, there was this girl I liked at school, so what I did was, I encouraged our single parents to date, so then we moved in together, and then I made sure the room was laid out so it was all pretty open...you know, to set the scene..." Cue torrents of vomit.
posted by Sticherbeast at 10:29 AM on February 22, 2012 [20 favorites]


Sticherbeast--that's exactly the same episode that finally killed Glee dead for me too--and for exactly the same reason.
posted by yoink at 10:38 AM on February 22, 2012 [5 favorites]


The problem with bullying is that the only way to survive it is to really, honestly, genuinely just not give a shit, and the only way to do THAT is to acquire a degree of maturity that most young adolescents don't have, because they are young adolescents.

My five-year-old daughter is only just starting to encounter problems with bullies, and part of the equation is that she has big feelings and big reactions, but I will be damned if I will tell her that she is causing the problem with her reactions. I was told that as a kid, and the lesson I took away from it was absolutely "You deserve to be bullied because you feel things." We're teaching her to set firm boundaries -- her magic words are "I don't like it when you do that! Please stop!" -- and that the kids who tease her are wrong and need to learn to stop it. Because they are, and they do.
posted by KathrynT at 10:38 AM on February 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


I love Tom and Lorenzo and I used to love Glee. And I'm not ashamed! They've done a great job here articulating what the show has lost. What they wrote about Blaine singing "Teenage Dream" to Kurt was so true and beautiful it hurt, and I resent Glee's slow depressing slide into After School Special glurge.

I'm glad we have It Gets Better, but we need “THIS SHIT HAS TO STOP RIGHT NOW.”
posted by Space Kitty at 10:42 AM on February 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Fuka: " I want to like it a lot more than I do"

That's almost become the point. Glee constantly teases the viewer with glimpses of how great it could be. Instead, it constantly waddles through overproduced mediocrity.

I get it. The overproduced musical numbers. The over-the-top drama. That stuff brings audiences in. However, the show's overall arc completely disintegrated, and they forgot to continue developing their characters or move the freaking plot along. We get it; Kurt is the perpetual victim/saint, and Will's character will never make sense. The troubling part of all this is that the producers do occasionally churn out fantastic episodes, which hints that they really should know better.

Hell, one of the only great plot/character developments in recent seasons was the Santana/Brittany relationship. And that started out as a joke!

I also get the pressure from the network executives, but they really could turn down the AutoTune a notch or two. Their cast is genuinely talented. Remember the last time they did that? Yeah. It was pretty awesome.

I haven't watched the show much this season. I really want to like it, but I simply got weary of constantly suspending disbelief throughout every single episode.

(And, yeah. The show's protagonists are certainly no saints. Especially Kurt. Hell, half of them are bullies themselves. I get that the protagonists are supposed to have flaws and evolve, but Glee is so heavyhanded that it's really difficult to forgive any of them for their misgivings.)
posted by schmod at 10:43 AM on February 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


I will be damned if I will tell her that she is causing the problem with her reactions. I was told that as a kid, and the lesson I took away from it was absolutely "You deserve to be bullied because you feel things."

Well...maybe. Bullies do like to pick on kids they can get a rise out of though. Learning not to give bullies exactly the reaction they want to get can be one kind of survival skill. Not, of course, that it will stop all bullies; and not, of course, that the lesson should be framed as "the bullying you're getting is all your fault."
posted by yoink at 10:43 AM on February 22, 2012


I hated that episode. I have no sympathy for people who call gay people fags; that aspect wasn't what bothered me. What bothered me was how Kurt was acting in just about precisely the way a homophobe would conceive a gay person - he uses social manipulation (and even the power of interior decorating!) to try to get with the straight guy. I mean, hell, in the process, Kurt disrupts Finn's family and his home in order to get with Finn.

I didn't like that episode either, for precisely this reason. They set up the situation to have Finn use the word "faggy", and get called out on it by Kurt's dad, but completely ignored all of Kurt's bad behaviour leading up to it. I think that's why they didn't have a big reconciliation episode between Kurt and Finn, because it would be hard to avoid Finn saying "you totally creeped me out" as part of it.

Yes, teens are a huge part of the audience for the show, so I reminded myself that the moral lessons are drawn in primary colours, but it really killed the show for me as a source of interesting narrative. It's a modern day after-school special, in prime time.
posted by fatbird at 10:47 AM on February 22, 2012


Was with them until they said "fuck 'It Gets Better'".

I'm down with a Stop This Shit Right Now campaign, but It Gets Better has a place and serves a useful function. If you're a gay kid on the edge and you watch some of those, I don't think it's telling you that bullying is inevitable and just deal with it. I think it's saying have hope, don't kill yourself. The second part is the most important. The promise of the future is a powerful deterrent against suicide.

I wish they could have made their very valid point without shitting on a campaign that has verifiably prevented suicide.
posted by lazaruslong at 10:47 AM on February 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


Bullies do like to pick on kids they can get a rise out of though.

Of course they do, but the problem in that scenario isn't the kid rising to the bait, it's the kid setting the trap. If you encounter a person who has sensitivities to teasing or to certain situations, the human, mature, adult, compassionate thing to do is to not provoke those sensitivities. We'd never put up with that from adults, or we never should; why on earth should we tolerate it in children or teenagers? Fuck "survival skills," how about doing the work so that my kid doesn't have to put all her skills and energy into merely surviving?
posted by KathrynT at 10:48 AM on February 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


Of course they do, but the problem in that scenario isn't the kid rising to the bait, it's the kid setting the trap. If you encounter a person who has sensitivities to teasing or to certain situations, the human, mature, adult, compassionate thing to do is to not provoke those sensitivities. We'd never put up with that from adults, or we never should; why on earth should we tolerate it in children or teenagers? Fuck "survival skills," how about doing the work so that my kid doesn't have to put all her skills and energy into merely surviving?

Um, this would be a great response to a comment that had said that bullies ought to be tolerated and that we should all turn a blind eye to bullying. It's a pity you're responding to a post that said no such thing.

Yes, bullies should be subject to official discipline. No, bullying should not be tolerated. That doesn't mean we shouldn't try to teach our kids how to respond--in the moment--to bullying when it occurs. Nobody thinks pedophilia should be tolerated, but we teach our kids about "stranger danger" and how best to respond to skeevy adults, right?
posted by yoink at 10:54 AM on February 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


I couldn't watch more than one episode of Glee. Everyone on that show is stupid, or vile, or both, as far as I'm concerned.
posted by starvingartist at 10:56 AM on February 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


That doesn't mean we shouldn't try to teach our kids how to respond--in the moment--to bullying when it occurs.

I am teaching her how to respond to bullying when it occurs. I'm just not teaching her that it's her responsibility to change herself to avoid being a target. Same as I teach her about skeevy adults, actually.
posted by KathrynT at 10:58 AM on February 22, 2012


Phire: "What the hell are regionals?

I thought it was national lower zone semis?
"

No. They're right before octagonals.
posted by schmod at 11:02 AM on February 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


At this moment in history, maybe Glee is like Uncle Tom's Cabin.

o_O
posted by joe lisboa at 11:44 AM on February 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


drezdn: " I haven't watched this episode yet, but the AV Club has a quick summary of the episode."

Man, after skimming that I'm thankful the obvious autotuning keeps me away from this show.

MCMikeNamara: " If you spend any time talking to suicidal gay kids these days, they aren't The Kurt or The Blaine. They aren't the smart, talented kid with the bitchy comebacks and a bench deep with friends who have their backs. They aren't the kind, handsome Prince Charming who everyone loves so much that them being gay is an afterthought. And they sure as fuck aren't one dating the other. They're the kid who DOES want to grow up to be just like mom and dad. They look at the media representation as it stands and think -- 'sure, it gets better for them, but what about me? I don't want to be in the theater or be an artist. I just want to be get a job, come home for the holidays, maybe with my kids, and have the people who love me now for the person they think I am" -- except for one thing that feels like both a small difference and an insurmountable one. They look at the options and don't recognize themselves in either world without suppressing who they know they are or being a completely different type of person. It's not just a question of coming out or killing themselves. It's about fear of what happens when they do come out and the sacrifices they would have to make to get there."

Man, if I could favorite this a hundred times, I would. They just want to fit in and be what they believe to be normal.
posted by zarq at 1:00 PM on February 22, 2012


Glee! It's a feeling you get when your brain finally lets your heart get into its pants!
posted by brain_drain at 1:32 PM on February 22, 2012


Do teenagers ......watch this show?

My niece apparently watches it religiously. She's in the choir at her church and apparently they use the Glee arrangements of pop songs on a regular basis, too.
posted by immlass at 1:37 PM on February 22, 2012


Do teenagers ......watch this show?

I work with teenagers and they watch it in droves.
posted by Joey Michaels at 1:40 PM on February 22, 2012


Sticherbeast: " It seemed to set back positive portrayals of gay characters by a few decades, and if I recall correctly, it didn't even give Kurt (or the show) a moment to realize how creepy and inappropriate his behavior was."

Actually, they did address that in a later episode. Kurt's dad tells him that it's inappropriate and not okay to pressure someone like that, and Kurt replies that it's not okay that there's literally no one in his life that it is okay to pursue. I thought it was actually kind of an interesting point.

I'm not much of a Glee fan anymore though, but it's my one personal show. I can find 45 minutes a week for it. (Usually while nursing my son. My God, if you could turn a kid gay, that'd do it.)
posted by that's how you get ants at 5:34 PM on February 22, 2012


So, I'm doing bar study but I'm in the final week or so of BarBri where they basically just say "study" and it turns out I never learned how to do that so instead of being as productive as I'd like I saw this post and caught up on all of the Glee I missed since I stopped giving a shit while reading over my notes on Agency law in NY.

It turns out this show still has a thousand ways to make me cringe but for the love of God I thought last night's was a damn fine effort. There were parts which bugged me, sure. If you're a West Wing fan you know the rushed post-9/11 episode "Isaac and Ishmael," which was basically just Aaron Sorkin using the characters as mouthpieces for his own views on terrorism and Islam and using a captive "audience" of high-schoolers as people to ask gratingly leading questions so that Toby and Sam and Josh and C.J. could spout off a Sorkin coundbite in return. It was well-intended and shit. The ten minutes after Karofsky's suicide attempt played in exactly the same way (except for the quick cutaway of Mr. Karofsky finding Dave) in that they were just checking off talking points.

And the very, very end was telegraphed and shoe-horned in there in a weird way. I didn't hate it on its own, but the PSA-nature of it and the subject matter of the rest of the episode made it feel like it should have happened elsewhere, if at all. I actually liked some aspects of how it was handled (Quinn was driving carefully, time literally was getting away from them, she ignored the first message because she knew what it was, etc.) but it just felt like the wrong way to end this one. If the creators actually have the balls to kill off Quinn and do it well I might have a change of heart, but it left a bitter taste which has little to do with the content and everything to do with structure.

But otherwise? I thought it dug in deep and pulled it off. The details in Karofsky's lead-up to his attempt were, as the A.V. Club points out, perfect. The shot of his model warplanes, in particular. Because of course young David Karofsky would have made model warplanes and hung them above his bed, and of course he'd be laying back in bed freaking out before deciding to go through with it, and of course something that small and seemingly benign would push him over the edge in wondering who he is now versus who is was "supposed" to be. Not that it would be for anyone else, mind you. It was a small and wonderfully telling, personal detail.

Moreover, the show got what MCMikeNamara said above. Kurt and Blaine aren't going to make that choice, but Karofsky might. My closest gay friend hate the way Kurt is handled for exactly the episode mentioned many times above, but because Kurt was never called out on his bullshit (at the time. The next season Burt brings it up, which helped.) I think a key thing here is that Karofsky, having perpetrated the bullying before, feels like he has no one to turn to and also that he doesn't deserve sympathy.

And I most of all loved the flash-forward dream sequence. Karofsky is a guy who resolutely sees himself as a normal guy. A guy's guy. He has dreams that aren't about pride parades so much as about just being able to live his life free from torment. My freshman year roommate was a gay Indian kid who came out the next year, but was also a massive football fan. I mostly hated football until he got me into it, and still cheer for the Bills because that's his team. He was pre-med, and suffered the victories and defeats that come with that, but mostly, he was just a normal guy who wanted normal American things and wanted to be able to share them with a man he loved.

So hearing Kurt tell Karofsky of the day he'd bring his son to his first football game didn't sound like "playing straight" to me. It made me think of my roommate, who would have the same dream. And yes, it made me tear up.

Sadly, the songs were completely forgettable. I think they blew their wad on using "Raise Your Glass" last season, as it would have been perfect in this episode as the final New Directions song at Regionals, but I think they got this at least 80% right.

Oh, and as for "It Gets Better"? I too would sign on in a second for a "THIS SHIT HAS TO STOP RIGHT NOW" campaign, but I have no idea how it would go about or what practical effect it would have, and even if it did, the two could still happily coexist. IGB is not telling teens to suck it up, but telling them not to give up, which is a message which transcends any issues of sexuality, really. If we can make people stop being assholes, great. Let's do it immediately. But let's also make sure the targets of said assholes hold on until they are free to live their own lives.

Oh, and I've posted this song before as part of an FPP, but the episode kept reminding me of it so much that I was half-sure they were going to go into a rendition of it. Bobby Gaylor's "Suicide."
posted by Navelgazer at 6:10 PM on February 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


As a friend put it to me when I first started watching, Glee has always been inconsistent on scene by scene basis. I pretty much agree with these guys on this week's episode and the plotlines leading up to it, and I also agree with Dorothy Snarker's criticisms of the handling of Santana's coming out. But every time I'm ready to give up on this show entirely, there will be a heart melty scene like the one T&L describe with "Teenage Dream," or last week with Brittany and Santana's first real kiss. For all its flaws, I'm kind of thrilled that there's a mainstream TV show with 6 queer characters and counting, at least 4 of whom are shown to be multidimensional and have long-running plots and relationships. For me, the existence of both the excellent, on point critique and the show's consistent lgb arcs are highlights in the pop culture landscape.
posted by milkweed at 6:52 PM on February 22, 2012


At this moment in history, maybe Glee is like Uncle Tom's Cabin.

Secretly Canadian?
posted by clvrmnky at 6:59 PM on February 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh, and here's Max Adler's IGB video (Dave Karofsky himself.) SPOILERS: he makes the point at the top that one of the biggest problems is the belief that bullying should be accepted or tolerated at all.

I know I've told this story before, but my high school GF's little brother was gay, and came out at 13 in Bartlesville, OK. Now, Bartlesville was shockingly tolerant towards gays and lesbians (one of my best friends, gay, was elected Prom King) but it was still a small town in Oklahoma. This kid's dad gave what to me is the Gold Standard response to a son coming out, especially at such a young age:

"Thanks for telling us. You're very brave. Life is going to be tough for you for a while for no reason. Never forget that we love you and we have your back."
posted by Navelgazer at 7:41 PM on February 22, 2012 [9 favorites]


I suppose it sounds all judgemental and stuff, but here goes:

It's Fox.
posted by Twang at 8:23 PM on February 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


lazaruslong: "Was with them until they said "fuck 'It Gets Better'".

I'm down with a Stop This Shit Right Now campaign, but It Gets Better has a place and serves a useful function. If you're a gay kid on the edge and you watch some of those, I don't think it's telling you that bullying is inevitable and just deal with it. I think it's saying have hope, don't kill yourself. The second part is the most important. The promise of the future is a powerful deterrent against suicide.

I wish they could have made their very valid point without shitting on a campaign that has verifiably prevented suicide.
"

I also think it lets them feel less alone and lets them know other people have survived what they are going through. Which the aforemention fecal blockage campaign would not do.
posted by Samizdata at 9:59 PM on February 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


schmod: "Fuka: " I want to like it a lot more than I do"

That's almost become the point. Glee constantly teases the viewer with glimpses of how great it could be. Instead, it constantly waddles through overproduced mediocrity.

I get it. The overproduced musical numbers. The over-the-top drama. That stuff brings audiences in. However, the show's overall arc completely disintegrated, and they forgot to continue developing their characters or move the freaking plot along. We get it; Kurt is the perpetual victim/saint, and Will's character will never make sense. The troubling part of all this is that the producers do occasionally churn out fantastic episodes, which hints that they really should know better.

Hell, one of the only great plot/character developments in recent seasons was the Santana/Brittany relationship. And that started out as a joke!

I also get the pressure from the network executives, but they really could turn down the AutoTune a notch or two. Their cast is genuinely talented. Remember the last time they did that? Yeah. It was pretty awesome.

I haven't watched the show much this season. I really want to like it, but I simply got weary of constantly suspending disbelief throughout every single episode.

(And, yeah. The show's protagonists are certainly no saints. Especially Kurt. Hell, half of them are bullies themselves. I get that the protagonists are supposed to have flaws and evolve, but Glee is so heavyhanded that it's really difficult to forgive any of them for their misgivings.)
"

Fuck me sideways, but that clip was my first exposure to the show, and what an exposure! That was ever so delicious and thanks for the share!
posted by Samizdata at 10:01 PM on February 22, 2012


My main frustration with Glee is that it's crap but we're expected to tolerate it because it's one of the few shows on TV right now that portrays a large amount of queer characters. It doesn't deal with events in a way that gives hope - it just makes queer people into victims, over and over.

- Kurt is the only character who was in control of his coming out but he completely lost his agency in season 2 when he was forced to transfer.
- I love Blaine, but he doesn't actively do anything. They didn't even give him a plausible reason to transfer from an accepting school to a total shithole of bullying.
- Santana didn't choose to come out, Finn outed her (and then was portrayed as a straight white male saviour - fuck that) not to mention she's a huge bully in her own right but it's ok because she's a closeted lesbian and that makes her angry.
- Brittany's sexuality is constantly ignored and it's been insinuated that she's not actually queer and will revert to straight when she and Santana break up; bisexuals don't exist.
- And then there's Karofsky, a huge bully who is somehow justified because he's a closeted gay manly man.

I wouldn't be so pissed if they actually handled these events with a sense of depth or respect. Instead, Kurt is the (white) gay saviour; Blaine is The Doormat Boyfriend; Santana is the angry Latina lesbian; Brittany is the confused LUG (lesbian until graduation); Karofsky is the bully who we should feel sorry for because he tries to commit suicide. What about making them into characters and letting us draw our own conclusions? Apparently that's not possible.

To those who say that the gay kids who need positive gay role models aren't Kurt or Blaine, I respectfully disagree. Out kids, effeminate guys, masculine guys, closeted kids, feminine women, butch women, genderqueer kids, trans kids.... they all need positive portrayals in the media. Nobody needs them more than any other and to attempt to prioritize them is bullshit.

In that same vein, some people benefit from It Gets Better. Other people would benefit more from a direct approach of This Shit Isn't OK/Make It Better. I'm firmly in the latter category as it gives us back our sense of agency. It stops the helpless victim portrayal and lets us channel our anger towards something that helps us all. I would've given anything to have someone tell me that in high school instead of "just wait" over and over again.
posted by buteo at 10:27 PM on February 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


So, after venting and then reading all the inputs here, I took the time to actually rewatch three or four segments of episodes involving the Kurt/Karofsky dynamic and see if I had learned anything.

Karofsky's initial attempts to get Kurt's attention were very much the actions of a young man who is unable to express his conflicted emotions, or has to resort to "unsociable" means to do so. They became outbursts rather than flirting or teasing, like he just couldn't contain it anymore and had to something, anything. The "hate kiss" was anything but, but it was done under extremely inappropriate circumstances, to an unwilling person. Kurt gets a taste of his own predatory behavior in an elemental, animalistic way.

Kurt's bromance with Blaine at Wharton was Gay 101. This is how other gay people act, cool it. We're talented too, cool it. I may be gay, but you're not my type, cool it. Kurt's dad can't afford the school anymore, he's going to have to come back and face the music.

Kurt goes on the attack and forces Karofsky out of McKinley. This is how adults do it. Use the system to get what you want. Make your case, and force the issue using legal means. Torment the bastard, and make sure everybody else helps you torment the bastard. Win. Sort of. There's a scene when Kurt gets the news that Karofsky is out, and they actually managed to capture triumph/gloating and then a moment of total self-loathing, all in under five seconds.

So, Kurt has all this new knowledge under his belt, and the situation is just kind of twisting in the wind for a year and a half. Kurt is intrigued when the Valentines start coming - he finds it incredibly romantic and flattering. When he finds out it's Karofsky, his face goes from astonishment to hatred, and then softens up, like it's finally dawned on him what this was about from the beginning. The conversation in the restaurant was actually a good starting point. Kurt has learned some things; Karofsky has learned some things. If it had happened this way from the beginning, everything probably would have been rainbows and unicorns.

When they are confronted by the football player, Kurt is actually covering; "we were classmates," "not what you think," etc. Too late. Karofsky has recovered from the experience from McKinley enough to reach out, but now the new school turns on him like a pack of wolves. Everybody else on the show eventually gets support for what they try to do, but not Karofsky. It's always shown as everybody unconditionally against him.
Karofsky has been pushed into a corner that he does not have the tools to cope with.

Kurt has grown a conscience; he reveals it to the Christian Club. When he visits Karofsky in the hospital, they finally have "the conversation," and decide to be friends. Kurt got here one way; Karofsky another. Will it work out, finally?

My initial reaction to the Tuesday night episode was that it was ham-fisted and opportunistic. Obviously, they've been setting this up for a long time. So, props. I'll watch again just to see what happens. Poor Quinn. Poor Quinn's baby...
posted by halfbuckaroo at 6:21 AM on February 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


The Atlantic - The Future of "Glee": Reasons for Hope, Reasons for Dread
posted by flex at 1:11 PM on February 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


I understand the point that the It Gets Better campaign is targeting the victims and telling them that they just have to suck it up for now, and that this is problematic.

I doubt I'm unusual in feeling that the "It Gets Better" message applies to every teenager.

What's needed is a "Make It Better" campaign encouraging teens to treat one another better than usual.

Or even encouraging everyone to be better. Lord knows we could do with a lot more cooperation and less hating.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:22 PM on February 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


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