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June 10, 2010 6:04 AM   Subscribe

The fictional high school chorus at the center of Fox’s Glee has a huge problem — nearly a million dollars in potential legal liability.
posted by joshwa (70 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
This seems kind of like an unfunny and (apologies to any copyright lawyers in the house) not-nearly-as-entertaining version of that "list of crimes committed by Ferris Bueller on his day off" AskMe question. It's an interesting article nevertheless.
posted by elizardbits at 6:09 AM on June 10, 2010


Current law favors copyright holders. But morally, there’s nothing wrong with singing your heart out. Remixing isn’t stealing, and copyright isn’t property. Copyright is a privilege — actually six specific privileges — granted by the government. Back in 1834, the Supreme Court decided in Wheaton v. Peters that copyrights weren’t “property” in the traditional sense of the word, but rather entitlements the government chose to create for instrumental reasons. The scope and nature of copyright protection are policy choices — choices that have grown to favor the interests of established, rent-seeking businesses instead of the public in general.

Somebody needs to go back to law school. Property itself is nothing more than a bundle of "privileges" granted and enforced by the government: to exclude, sell, covenant, tax, lease, etc.
posted by anotherpanacea at 6:20 AM on June 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Hopefully ACTA will take care of the scourge of glee clubs that abuse the property of other people. It's impossible to underestimate how much damage has been done to artists like Madonna and Lady Gaga due to reckless glee clubs pirating their intellectual property. I'm surprised musicians are willing to create anything anymore given the wanton abuse high school glee clubs have for intellectual property.
posted by ryoshu at 6:21 AM on June 10, 2010 [4 favorites]


Beyond the fact that the TV show actually pays a ton of money in royalties, and in its fictional universe the use of songs clearly falls under the education fair use defense (or the "we're high schoolers singing into our hair brushes in our bedroom defense), beyond the obvious provisions for satire in the Vogue video, and beyond the fact that all this illustrates the patent absurdity of overzealous copyright litigation by demonstrating how firmly pop music is lodged into our joint cultural heritage ... I really wish we could have had a better post about Glee.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 6:27 AM on June 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


... I really wish we could have had a better post about Glee.

So...what's stopping you?
posted by 6550 at 6:41 AM on June 10, 2010


So...what's stopping you?

Are you kidding? l33t has to practice for regionals! You don't go from singing into your hairbrush to being a teen heart-throb based on good looks alone (well, sometimes you do).
posted by filthy light thief at 6:51 AM on June 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


> Somebody needs to go back to law school.

If I have to choose between the analysis from somebody who graduated Harvard Law School with a specialty in intellectual property law and your reading of some random jamoke's Wikipedia edit, I'm not going to spend a long time worrying about it.
posted by ardgedee at 7:01 AM on June 10, 2010


A bit silly, since real teenagers do the real things that are shown on the show and there are no real penalties. Like if you upload your Madonna video parody to YouTube, you aren't getting sued for $150k. So why would the show address it in any way?
posted by smackfu at 7:02 AM on June 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Um, you know Glee isn't real life.... Right?
posted by spilon at 7:02 AM on June 10, 2010


l33t has to practice for regionals!

The Glee competition structure revealed
posted by shakespeherian at 7:09 AM on June 10, 2010 [14 favorites]


The Onion's AV Club interviews Chris Colfer on playing the most complex gay character on TV.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 7:15 AM on June 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


I was expecting a light-hearted article about all the possible liabilities. Instead, I read "but my own enthusiasm for Glee has recently given way to confusion over its message." Really? You can't enjoy the show because you're SO WORRIED about the imaginary copyright violations?

I think it's theoretically interesting to discuss the boundaries of copyright law, but sort of silly to assert that Glee is actually sending the message that it's okay to violate copyright law. Additionally, in the fictional universe they could be paying royalties for all we know - at least for the songs they choose for competitions. I know my high school paid royalties for the plays and musicals we performed.
posted by insectosaurus at 7:20 AM on June 10, 2010


and in its fictional universe the use of songs clearly falls under the education fair use defense

Fair use is theft. Would you like it if I came over to your house and used your grill without permission? We're talking about property here. Is a man not entitled to the sweat of his brow?
posted by ryoshu at 7:36 AM on June 10, 2010 [4 favorites]


If I have to choose between the analysis from somebody who graduated Harvard Law School with a specialty in intellectual property law and your reading of some random jamoke's Wikipedia edit, I'm not going to spend a long time worrying about it.

As you might expect, there's actually a considerable amount of disagreement about the nature of IP rights in the US, particularly whether they are (or ought to be) property rights or just government-granted monopolies / privileges / entitlements / what-have-you. There's some interesting historical scholarship that argues that intellectual property has long had its basis in the Lockean labor theory of property of natural rights.

Suffice to say that, Harvard JD or no, the author's take on the nature of copyright is not the only legitimate view out there, nor is it likely that a consensus will be reached any time soon.
posted by jedicus at 7:37 AM on June 10, 2010


Would you like it if I came over to your house and used your grill without permission?

No, but if you saw an awesome painting of a grill I did, and used a similar structure on your painting of a giant death-barbeque-robot, I would like it so hard I would explode.
posted by Lemurrhea at 7:39 AM on June 10, 2010 [7 favorites]


Fair use is theft. Would you like it if I came over to your house and used your grill without permission? We're talking about property here. Is a man not entitled to the sweat of his brow?

I know you're being facetious to make a point, but in fact the law recognizes several instances of what might be termed 'fair use' of physical property. For example, the defenses of public and private necessity. Or easements by necessity and easements by prescription.

And of course ultimately Congress has broad power to shape Copyright laws. The copyright clause gives Congress a certain amount of power, and it can choose to exercise all, none, or some of that power. Thus, there is no Constitutional requirement for the treatment of copyright to exactly match the treatment of physical property.

And just because copyright is a property right does not mean that it should be treated exactly the same as physical property rights. One can recognize that non-rival goods can (and perhaps should) be treated differently than rival goods while still using a property rights approach.
posted by jedicus at 7:45 AM on June 10, 2010


I agree, l33t. I had a really strange experience with Glee the other week -- after having watched and approached the show as the lightest of buttery popcorn entertainment, I (completely unexpectedly) loved that rendition of James Brown's "It's a Man's World" the other week -- and I need someone to talk about it with!
(Or at least, to assure me that yes, that number was totally boss, and I don't necessarily have an unexplained obsession with pregnant-teen choreography.)

Also -- "Unwed Mothership Connection"? WHAT POINTS you score with your Parliament references, writers of Glee! WHAT POINTS!
posted by Rumpled at 7:46 AM on June 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


To my mind there are actually only two major problems with the current US copyright regime: statutory damages and criminal liability. Other kinds of IP law get by just fine without statutory damages, and for the most part there's no criminal liability in other areas (none in patent and trademark, though there is some in trade secret).

The long copyright term would be much less problematic if there were neither statutory damages nor criminal liability. Orphan-but-still-copyrighted works would be much more likely to be put to use because without statutory damages any copyright holder would have to prove actual damages and the actual damages can't be very high if the copyright holder has been sleeping on his or her rights for years. And without criminal liability one wouldn't have to worry about the government suddenly deciding to act unilaterally to prosecute people who copy orphan works.
posted by jedicus at 7:52 AM on June 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


I don't watch Glee, but was pretty thrilled with the father's speech against the use of the word "fag" toward the end of one of the episodes recently. (It was pointed out on Gay USA one night.) Great stuff, and pretty stunning to see on one of the more popular television shows on a national network. Completely unimaginable even 10 years ago.
posted by hippybear at 7:55 AM on June 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


In related news: Pay to play.
"Across New England, church coffeehouses, library cafes, and eateries that pass the hat to pay local musicians or open their doors to casual jam sessions are experiencing a crackdown by performance rights organizations, or PROs, which collect royalties for songwriters.

Copyright law requires that any venue where music is performed publicly, from cheerleading competitions and mortuaries to nightclubs and stadiums, have a performance license. Recorded music is subject to license fees as well. The three US-based PROs — ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC — collect the fees and distribute them to their members.

With the music industry in steep decline, PROs are ramping up their pursuit of the little guys, who acknowledge that songwriters are entitled to compensation but are angry and frustrated at what they see as unfair targeting of small businesses and nonprofits that make no money from the music they present."
posted by ericb at 7:59 AM on June 10, 2010


l33tpolicywonk: The Onion's AV Club interviews Chris Colfer on playing the most complex gay character on TV.

I saw him interviewed on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, The View, and The Bonnie Hunt Show; I read a few interviews with him, including that one; and overall, I think I like Chris Colfer even more than I like Kurt.
posted by Houyhnhnm at 7:59 AM on June 10, 2010


I think I like Chris Colfer even more than I like Kurt.

Am I the only one who hates Kurt?

At first I was a bit surprised that Fox greenlighted a gay teenager as a main character on primetime. When I finally got around to watching the show, I realized it was because he's awful. Every negative stereotype in the book.* Sure, he's a "complex character," but does that really make sense in the context of a show that's otherwise lighthearted, absurd, and nonsensical?

(That said, maybe he'll eventually win me over. The scenes between him and his father are absolutely phenomenal, and Chris Colfer is without a doubt, a ridiculously talented actor and singer. Glee just needs a "Will" to balance out his "Jack")

*And that brings me to my other criticism of Glee. For a show that seems ready to tackle social issues (usually with the subtlety of an atomic bomb), it always seems to revert back to reinforcing stereotypes.
posted by schmod at 8:16 AM on June 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


ardegee: My point is simply that the author says, "Copyright isn't property," and then goes on to define it using the exact same language that defines property. It's an odd moment. We're not in the state of nature here: every right is a governmentally-granted and -enforced right. (That said, I agree with the author's larger point, which is that Glee is predicated on a massive untruth about how easy it is to abuse copyrights in the US without consequence.)
posted by anotherpanacea at 8:20 AM on June 10, 2010


A bit silly, since real teenagers do the real things that are shown on the show and there are no real penalties. Like if you upload your Madonna video parody to YouTube, you aren't getting sued for $150k. So why would the show address it in any way?

You're right that the much more likely result is a DMCA takedown, which doesn't require a lawsuit at all, but most copyright cases don't go to trial anyway. I think the larger point is that current laws give copyright holders a lot of legal rights, and new technology is somewhat confusing the issues of what copyright holders should and shouldn't be able to control.

For example, Warner technically owns the copyright to Happy Birthday in the US until 2030 (unless another copyright extension act gets passed between now and then), which doesn't make a whole lot of sense considering that the song is over 100 years old and it was heavily based on existing songs when it was written. It's generally legal for people to sing the song at private birthday parties, but if you sing it in a public place it's technically illegal (which is why restaurants have their own made-up birthday songs that they sing). That's okay, because the Copyright Police don't burst in and stop everyone from singing if it's just normal people singing in public somewhere without trying to make money from it, and commercial restaurants can either pay to use it or have their employees sing something else. But now that things like YouTube exist where nothing is really "private" and ads can support hosting user-generated content even if the users themselves don't get paid, it's much more common for noncommercial uses to drift into public performance territory and for copyright holders to see it and take action.

So, going back to Glee, a big part of the show is about kids taking popular songs and sort of taking ownership of them. Even though none of the fictional kids have (so far) written any lyrics or music, they use the songs to convey what they are feeling and who they are. And on a higher level, the whole premise of the show is that singing those songs and performing them for other people is what allows them to find something they can be proud of and connect to other people with. All of that is fictional of course, but part of the reason it works is because that lines up with how a lot of people feel about songs and performing. And even outside of music, fanfic, fanart, and a lot of other creative activities that involve appropriating someone else's intellectual property and use that as a form of noncommercial public expression seem to be a normal part of human nature. I think the irony that the article is trying to point out is that, although Fox pays all of the required licenses and gets permission to use all of the songs on the show, Glee seems to be celebrating the sort of free appropriation and remixing of existing works that copyright holders generally try to suppress.
posted by burnmp3s at 8:28 AM on June 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


> When I finally got around to watching the show, I realized it was because he's awful. Every negative stereotype in the book.*

Really? The negative stereotypes that some gay kids are talented, sweet, loyal, lovely to their fathers, can have unobtainable crushes, and are sometimes baffled by negotiating their identity?
posted by Squeak Attack at 8:37 AM on June 10, 2010


For his time, Sousa was a copyright extremist. He had come to Washington to push for (what was perceived by many to be) a radical increase in the reach of copyright. The push was opposed by many in the business world and many antiregulation idealists. Yet Sousa’s extremism still knew an important limit, a place where copyright law would reach too far. That limit got revealed midway through his testimony. As he testified Sousa was interrupted by Congressman Frank Dunklee Currier, a Republican from New Hampshire. After Sousa described the “young people together singing the songs of the day and the old songs,” Currier asked:
Currier: Since the time you speak of, when they used to be singing in the streets . . . the law has been [changed] . . . to prohibit that. Is not that so?
Sousa: No, sir; you could always do it.
Currier: Any public performance is prohibited, is it not, by that law?
Sousa: You would not call that a public performance.
Currier: But any public performance is prohibited by the law of 1897?
Sousa: Not that I know of at all. I have never known that it was unlawful to get together and sing.
Though the record doesn’t indicate it, one imagines laughter followed Sousa’s comment. And anyway, Currier was not being serious. He was not a copyright extremist. Indeed, quite the opposite. Currier was an “intellectual property” skeptic, unconvinced of the need for this government- backed monopoly to interfere with inventions or the arts. The aim of his question was to embarrass Sousa for Sousa’s (from Currier’s view) extremism.He wanted to suggest the law had already gone too far and didn’t need to go any further.


Lawrence Lessig (Remix, 2008), describing John Philip Sousa's 1906 testimony to Congress regarding the application of copyright law to mechanical music (i.e. piano rolls).
posted by DiscourseMarker at 8:38 AM on June 10, 2010


I feel like I'm missing something in this discussion, so correct me if I'm wrong. "Theoretically" Glee is facing copyright infringement, but is there any evidence they did not simply ask the artists for permission? For example, I'm fairly sure Weird Al asks for the artists permission prior to creating parodies of their work...doesn't seem too far fetched that they've covered their bases in that respect.
posted by samsara at 8:39 AM on June 10, 2010


I feel like I'm missing something in this discussion, so correct me if I'm wrong.

You are missing something. There's little doubt that Fox clears the copyright licenses for the show. The article is saying that if it were not fictional but rather a real glee club doing what the show portrays that the real glee club would potentially be facing massive copyright infringement liability.

Weird Al asks artists for permission because he doesn't want to be a jerk, not because he has to. In nearly all cases the artists don't actually own the copyrights anyway; the studio does. Weird Al's parodies are protected because they are just that, parodies, and no permission is required.
posted by jedicus at 8:43 AM on June 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm just sayin the "funk" episode was one of the least funky things I ever saw. I had to roll a joint in toilet paper and eat a whole bowl of cornflakes with a hamhock in it after.
posted by Kirk Grim at 9:13 AM on June 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Mike O'Malley does an amazing job as Kurt's father, Burt. According to the AV Club interview the actors have only met about five times, so the chemistry and emotion between the two is a strong testament to their acting skills. Interview with O'Malley on the characters' relationship.
posted by kirkaracha at 9:21 AM on June 10, 2010


Really? The negative stereotypes that some gay kids are talented, sweet, loyal, lovely to their fathers, can have unobtainable crushes, and are sometimes baffled by negotiating their identity?

Yeah, that's all fine, but what grates for me (unless I'm missing something as I've only watched scattered minutes of the show), there's the TV trope that only allows one openly gay character, unless the show is about teh gays. But this is a bloody GLEE CLUB. Every other boy should be gay in it. In 2010 shouldn't this kid have a gay best friend? Fuck, I did on high school in 1980.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 9:24 AM on June 10, 2010


If our swing choir could have done any modern/current song like New Directions, we would have had much more fun.
posted by ao4047 at 9:28 AM on June 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


But this is a bloody GLEE CLUB. Every other boy should be gay in it.

The vast majority of guys in my high school glee club were not gay. There's some sort of life...trope that says that every gay guy should be in a show choir, and that's just not how life works.
posted by rtha at 9:32 AM on June 10, 2010


Property itself is nothing more than a bundle of "privileges" granted and enforced by the government: to exclude, sell, covenant, tax, lease, etc.

GIGGLE RON PAUL
posted by joe lisboa at 9:37 AM on June 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Really? The negative stereotypes that some gay kids are talented, sweet, loyal, lovely to their fathers, can have unobtainable crushes, and are sometimes baffled by negotiating their identity?

The stereotypes that gay boys dress eccentrically, love fashion, hate sports, love pop and showtunes and hate rock, spend hours and dollars on manicures and facials, and that they fall desperately in love with straight guys whom they want to convert.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:43 AM on June 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


Oh and that he gets along better with girls and isn't much friends with the boys, and usually when the club splits into gendered groups he joins with the girls.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:45 AM on June 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


I enjoy glee, despite the shallow plots and consistently annoying characters. I honestly can't work out what I like about it (except Sue Sylvester; she's the by far funniest new character I've seen in years), but somehow it just ... works. Junk food for the brain?

Really? The negative stereotypes that some gay kids are... bitchy, uber-feminine, small and skinny, obsessed with fashion and interior design, hate sports, love musicals, have high voices and are prone to being drama queens?

I get that characters on a programme like this have to be caricatures, but kurt isn't a caricature of a gay kid. He's primarily a caricature of a really, really camp kid. I'd guess that there are proportionately more camp gay guys than camp straight guys but still, gay != camp. I imagine that non-camp gay guys must find that set of stereotypes very annoying.

My annoyances about aspects of his character aside, I think Kurt is acted brilliantly and that his relationship with his dad is done really well. His dad's rant about saying "fag" was great, and much better than I ever expected to see on a mainstream TV programme.

While I'm complaining about things that don't involve me, does anyone else find it jarring that the wheelchair-bound kid is really, really bad at dancing in his wheelchair? The best he ever manages is sort of rocking back and forth. Given a decent wheelchair and some lessons, it can't be *that* hard to learn some decent moves, surely?
posted by metaBugs at 9:45 AM on June 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


I don't watch Glee, but was pretty thrilled with the father's speech against the use of the word "fag" toward the end of one of the episodes recently.

I don't want to derail things too badly here, but I was actually really bothered by this scene.

Let me be clear: I think the father's speech was great. The sentiment expressed was powerful and important. The events that led up to it occurring, though, seemed very, very shitty.

To list the events:

Finn is not gay. He's made this very clear, and we have no reasons to believe he's closeted.

Kurt is gay. He's also made this very clear.

When Finn and Kurt first interact early on in Glee, Finn is uncomfortable with Kurt -- and honestly, as a portrayal of a a high schooler on the football team, that's not exactly crazy. But Finn does come to accept Kurt for who he is, and becomes friends with him. This is a very positive message -- a guy seen as a jock comes to accept and be friends with a gay guy.

Kurt, in the meantime, has a crush on Finn. He makes some awkward advances on Finn, and they have, to my recollection, at least one interaction in which Finn makes it clear yet again that he is not gay.

After Finn has made it very clear that he is not gay, but accepts Kurt for who he is and is friends with him, Kurt then contrives to set up his father (a widower) with Finn's mother (a widow) with the express intent of getting them to move in together so he can share a room with Finn. He does this because he has a crush on Finn -- you know, the guy who has said he's not interested in Kurt? -- and thinks that this will somehow cause Finn to want to have a relationship with him.

And his matchmaking plan works. The parents move in together. The teens are forced to live in the same room. Finn is unhappy about this, because he's now living in the same room as someone who has unrequited sexual desires towards him. And the final straw is when that person redecorates the room in a way that is both completely against what he wants, and further reduces his ability to have any privacy.

So what happens? He lashes out. He says things he should not say -- but honestly, I don't think he says them at all because he's a homophobe. I think he says the meanest, most hurtful thing he can think of because he's a teenager who is feeling completely and utterly trapped in a unbelievably uncomfortable situation created by the manipulation of someone who will not take "I am not interested in you" as an answer.

The denouement of the episode makes it seem like the point of the "confrontation" was that Finn was unaccepting but now is accepting. This is bullshit -- he was already accepting. In the meantime, Kurt's actions are glossed over completely.

So where does that leave us?

Well, again, what Finn said was terrible.

Again, the speech resulting from it was great.

Nevertheless, I can't help but feel like the writers pretty much wrote Finn into a corner with the express purpose of being able to unload that speech -- and no matter how good the sentiment of the speech was, it feels like a pretty shitty way to approach the scenario.

As many others have said, I think Kurt's relationship with his dad has been a high point for Glee. At the same time, I think his attempted relationship with Finn has been a huge black mark against what has otherwise been a very positive portrayal of a gay teenager.
posted by tocts at 9:50 AM on June 10, 2010 [18 favorites]


The teens are forced to live in the same room.

Even that is contrived since the stated reason to move in together is because the other house is bigger.
posted by smackfu at 9:54 AM on June 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Kurt is indeed stereotypical in many ways, whereas Chris Colfer doesn't seem flamboyant and he is clearly not into fashion if he didn't know who Marc Jacobs was until the pilot episode. It is well-known that the writers created Kurt specifically for Colfer to play, so perhaps they made Kurt campy because they didn't want Colfer to merely play himself.
posted by Houyhnhnm at 10:13 AM on June 10, 2010


While I'm complaining about things that don't involve me, does anyone else find it jarring that the wheelchair-bound kid is really, really bad at dancing in his wheelchair? The best he ever manages is sort of rocking back and forth. Given a decent wheelchair and some lessons, it can't be *that* hard to learn some decent moves, surely?

The actor who plays Artie may be overcompensating somewhat. In an interview he said that he initially found it difficult not to dance or tap his feet to the music, which would betray the character's paraplegia.
posted by jedicus at 10:27 AM on June 10, 2010


As many others have said, I think Kurt's relationship with his dad has been a high point for Glee. At the same time, I think his attempted relationship with Finn has been a huge black mark against what has otherwise been a very positive portrayal of a gay teenager.

I agree with you about the speech coming off as odd in that particular situation, but the overall Finn/Kurt plotline is more of a symptom the writers constantly playing into the audience's appetite for shipping, than anything to do with developing Kurt as a character. I highly suspect that next season will introduce at least one more gay or bi male character, since after the Finn/Kurt and Kurt/Mercedes plotlines there aren't many other interesting permutations to go through with the current cast.
posted by burnmp3s at 10:29 AM on June 10, 2010


I don't think Kurt is supposed to represent all gay people, anyway. Are Rachel and Puck supposed to represent all Jewish people? Is Mercedes supposed to represent all black people? Every character on the show is stereotypical in some way, so it's not like gay people have been singled out for stereotyping.

burnmp3s: I highly suspect that next season will introduce at least one more gay or bi male character

Yes, Kurt is apparently getting a boyfriend next season and he's not an existing character.
posted by Houyhnhnm at 10:34 AM on June 10, 2010


> The stereotypes that gay boys dress eccentrically, love fashion, hate sports, love pop and showtunes and hate rock...

The post I was responding to said "negative" stereotypes. Except for wanting to convert a straight boy, I fail to see how any of those things you mention are negative. Liking fashion and hating sports are only negative qualities in a man if you think that men having stereotypically feminine interests is creepy and wrong. And actually, I'm pretty aware of the stereotypes Kurt embodies - my point was that, to me, he also has positive, relateable traits. He reminds me of my fashion and pop music-loving high school days.

I also sometimes have a knee-jerk reaction when I think people are insisting on paragon characters. Did Artie’s fantasy about being able to dance do a huge disservice to wheelchair users? Quite possibly – it’s not my place to say. But I also related strongly to it because I didn’t have single high school fantasy that involved me actually having the body I had at the time.

I agree with tochts that although Burt's speech to Finn was awesome, I felt as terrible for Finn as I did for Kurt in that scene, and it was one of the (many) occasions when the show's tiny attention span and need to make a point did disservice to the characters.
posted by Squeak Attack at 10:50 AM on June 10, 2010


The post I was responding to said "negative" stereotypes.

Fair point. I don't object to the fact that he has these characteristics, I just get slightly frustrated by all the people I've seen who say he's a massive departure from the trope, while really he's just another walking collection of the same old stereotypes. You're right that none of this was really responding to your point though, so it was rude of me to direct my ire at you. Sorry about that.
posted by metaBugs at 11:03 AM on June 10, 2010


Am I the only one who hears New Directions as Nude Erections? And then giggles like a twelve-year old?

Carry on.
posted by cereselle at 11:09 AM on June 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Am I the only one who hears New Directions as Nude Erections? And then giggles like a twelve-year old?

Absolutely not. During the 08 election it was standard drinking game procedure around our house to take a drink any time a pol said they wanted to take X in a New Direction. You know, cuz it sounds like Nude Erection.
posted by joe lisboa at 11:18 AM on June 10, 2010


The post I was responding to said "negative" stereotypes. Except for wanting to convert a straight boy, I fail to see how any of those things you mention are negative.

Well, then maybe I shouldn't be refuting your statement directly, but I am of the opinion that all stereotypes (blacks are good at sports! women are better parents! Jews are good with money!) are negative inasmuch as they categorize and therefore other groups of people.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:26 AM on June 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yes, Kurt is apparently getting a boyfriend next season and he's not an existing character.
PW: One of the big plans for season two is introducing a boyfriend for Kurt, any idea if you'll have a say in casting?

Chris: I have no idea how it’s going to work out. I’ll play it by ear, I’m sure we’ll be reading with the new characters and since we’ll be a couple, I’m guessing I’ll be there to make sure there’s no awkwardness. But hopefully I have no input, because I’m very vain and the only input I really want to give is that I need to be the better looking half of the couple. I don’t want to be the weak link or have people think, “What’s he doing with Kurt?”

PW: Are you excited to portray the next step in an emerging gay's journey?

Chris: I really am and I get more and more excited every day. I know it’s going to bring up so much more great stuff with Kurt & Burt – I live for the father/son scenes. It’s so special. And I think there’s going to be a lot of good comedy stuff that’s going to come out of it as well, which is good because I feel like so much of what I’ve done has been dramatic. I want to stretch my comedy legs as well.*
posted by ericb at 11:31 AM on June 10, 2010


Kurt is a stereotype, yeah. So are all the characters.

Did Artie’s fantasy about being able to dance do a huge disservice to wheelchair users?

I don't think so, but then I'm not in a wheelchair so I could be wrong on that. I think it was an attempt to show--as they have been doing throughout the series--that everyone dreams big, dreams of things they may or may not be able to do.

Plus we got to see the sickeningly gorgeous Kevin dance like a motherfucker, so there's that too.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 11:49 AM on June 10, 2010


There are significant problems with relying on fair use here, which is that it's an affirmative defense that may or may not save your ass in court, and has limited application outside of the courtroom. The National Association for Music Education recommends getting permission for public performance. My impression is that the costs to do so for a school auditorium performance are probably much less than the $150,000 claimed.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 11:49 AM on June 10, 2010


Oh, that should have been, "fair use has limited application outside of the classroom."
posted by KirkJobSluder at 11:51 AM on June 10, 2010


Kurt is a stereotype, yeah. So are all the characters.

Yeah. I would infinitely love Glee if it took a Freaks and Geeks approach to character.

I mean, here's the thing: I understand that Glee wants to inhabit the hyperreal world of the musical, and that's great: I love the hyperreal world of the musical, where, as Ebert says, some things simply cannot be said in words, and require songs to say them. But Glee simultaneously wants to tell a story about a ragtag and diverse bunch of kids who aspire to triumph through spirit more than raw talent. In the finale, Will tells them, 'Nine months ago you guys sucked.' But this idea seems, at least as presented on the show, irreconcilable with the hyperreal world of the musical that the show also wants to live in, where characters throw together Broadway-ready numbers, complete with elaborate costumes and choreography, for their weekly assignments. The Glee kids, nine months ago, sounded exactly as amazing as they do now: we haven't really been given any impression of their hard work and gradual improvement, no Rocky montage where they come together as a team, because since day one they've lived in the hyperreal world of the musical, and the very things they're supposed to be wrestling so hard for are exactly the things that the conceit of the show allows them to have effortlessly. And I feel like Glee does this for pretty much every one of its aspect: The kids are diverse, and the show wants them to triumph over the difficulties this presents, but four or fives times per episode the jocks and the nerds also have to perform flawless big band dance numbers together. The characters are supposed to be timid and unsure and insecure, but they're also required to belt out showtunes in packed auditoriums with enormous smiles. The show wants to be about characters, but stocks itself with the Sassy Black Girl and the Bitchy Gay Boy and the Dumb Naive Jock and the Self-Important and Overworking Jewish Girl.
posted by shakespeherian at 12:24 PM on June 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


Nevertheless, I can't help but feel like the writers pretty much wrote Finn into a corner with the express purpose of being able to unload that speech -- and no matter how good the sentiment of the speech was, it feels like a pretty shitty way to approach the scenario.

Well said, tocts. I felt the same way but couldn't put my finger on it. The dad's speech was right on, but it didn't seem fair at all to Finn.

I kinda hate Glee. I do like Jane Lynch (who doesn't?) but I can't stand any of the kids. My wife watches it via Hulu, and I indulge her by occasionally joining.

Even that is contrived since the stated reason to move in together is because the other house is bigger.

I guess that's why I really hate the show. The kids are annoying and I don't like the covers that much, but what really grates is the incongruity, if that's the right word. Like the music teacher guy would not know that his wife was not really pregnant ... after 5 months?!?! I mean, c'mon, you, guys.

It's like the writers don't even try to make sense. tocts' explanation really hit it on the head for me. It's very cheap material with decent production and LCD pablum. I can be down with LCD pablum, but not about high school chorus. Disappointing.

On preview: shakespeherian's analysis of the incongruity of the show makes a lot of sense. I usually LOVE musicals, but in this case, a TV musical about a bunch of wanna-be performers fails miserably. These kids are supposed to be the geeks of the high-school ... and yet they have their own backing band! (and what does that make the backing band? one social level below the chorus?)

I'd much rather watch a documentary about P.S. 22. Somebody make one.
posted by mrgrimm at 12:36 PM on June 10, 2010


The Glee kids, nine months ago, sounded exactly as amazing as they do now: we haven't really been given any impression of their hard work and gradual improvement

Another example was the finale, where the theme of the Regionals performance was decided on in one scene, and performed in the next scene in competition. No rehearsals, not even a sense of time passing.
posted by smackfu at 1:07 PM on June 10, 2010


The show wants to be about characters, but stocks itself with the Sassy Black Girl and the Bitchy Gay Boy and the Dumb Naive Jock and the Self-Important and Overworking Jewish Girl.

I don't think the show is meant to be about characters at all. In those types of shows, a lot of time is spent gradually introducing more and more details and nuances of characters. Those types of shows come up with excuses through plot to go into a character's past or reveal some aspect of a character that hadn't been explored before. Glee is pretty much the exact opposite of that. Almost everything that happens in the show is centered around telling a given story, even if that story makes no sense in the context of what has already been established with the characters. When a the show needs a break from the longer running established love triangles, they throw two characters together for an episode, and when they want to show a dance number on the football field they contrive an ridiculous series of events to make it happen. Note that none of this is inherently bad, just look at a show like Seinfeld for an example of how to successfully focus much more on the plot of each episode rather than character development or believability.

I guess that's why I really hate the show. The kids are annoying and I don't like the covers that much, but what really grates is the incongruity, if that's the right word. Like the music teacher guy would not know that his wife was not really pregnant ... after 5 months?!?! I mean, c'mon, you, guys.

It helps to realize that you are basically watching a musical soap opera, because it follows soap conventions much more closely than traditional dramas. He needed to not know about the pregnancy so long because they wanted the audience to hate the marriage (but not necessarily his wife) so that they would root for him and Emma to get together. Finn had to think he was the father to make the love triangle with Rachel work. This kind of stuff is right out of the soap opera playbook. Unlike traditional dramas that can run out of steam when important character or story arcs get resolved, soap operas know from day one the key is to keep crazy stuff happening all the time and never let anything stay resolved for long. If the show runs long enough, don't be surprised if long lost twins start showing up or characters start getting amnesia.
posted by burnmp3s at 1:13 PM on June 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Another example was the finale, where the theme of the Regionals performance was decided on in one scene, and performed in the next scene in competition. No rehearsals, not even a sense of time passing.

It also was a little bit odd that in the episode before Regionals, they were like 'The key to winning is soul numbers!' and then in the episode containing regionals they were like 'We'll do a Journey medley!'
posted by shakespeherian at 1:16 PM on June 10, 2010


Another example was the finale, where the theme of the Regionals performance was decided on in one scene, and performed in the next scene in competition. No rehearsals, not even a sense of time passing.

To be fair, this is due to an issue that's never going to go away: the need to not repeat performances.

A lot of the entertainment value of the show is seeing the cast do a musical number for the first time. That entertainment value drops significantly if we have to watch them practice the same number across 5 episodes and then perform it one more time at the big competition.

For sectionals, they got away with avoiding this sort of repetition with the subplot of Sue Sylvester giving the other teams the set list -- thus, they suddenly had to come up with something else to sing (conveniently, something that we haven't seen them sing -- the original songs had already been performed (practiced) by the cast and thus were on the original setlist). But that kind of trick gets old, and certainly can't be used every time.

I had wondered how they'd handle it for the finale, and I guess they've recognized that their only real option is to not show the practice. In the future, this likely means that any number done during the regular season is pretty much guaranteed not to be what they perform at whatever the big competition is.
posted by tocts at 1:26 PM on June 10, 2010


I get where you're coming from, burnmp3s, but I still disagree. I like soap operas. I've watched a lot of them. I remember the time Nadine Lewis faked her pregnancy and kept 19-year-old Bridget Reardon in her attic until she delivered. I like ridiculous plots and harebrained explanations.

I just think that most soap operas will offer up an explanation that works, at least to some extent. The explanation may be ridiculous (e.g. Nadine convinces Billy she needs to sleep in a different bed for whatever reason), but in Glee the teacher and his wife were in the same bed. She also convinced a doctor to lie to her husband because her sister-in-law threatened a malpractice suit for a non-condition. Again, it's like they're not even trying.

Soap operas might be ridiculous, and children may age from 2 to 16 in 2 years, but the writers usually try to keep a level of congruity/believability.
posted by mrgrimm at 1:30 PM on June 10, 2010


Yes, Kurt is apparently getting a boyfriend next season and he's not an existing character.

It'd be fun if it was one of the chunky overcompensating homophobic bullying football players.
posted by kirkaracha at 1:58 PM on June 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


I would infinitely love Glee if it took a Freaks and Geeks approach to character.

Now, that was a great show! And it's great to to see how the careers of Judd Apatow, James Franco, Seth Rogen and others have blossomed since then.
posted by ericb at 2:04 PM on June 10, 2010


That entertainment value drops significantly if we have to watch them practice the same number across 5 episodes and then perform it one more time at the big competition.

They could learn a lot about how to do exactly that if they'd take a few cues from the film That Thing You Do, which really only had one song in it, and they somehow managed to make a feature-length film about it without making you sick of the song by the time it was over.
posted by hippybear at 2:34 PM on June 10, 2010


I liked Sue Sylvester until I realized she was just The Janitor in disguise.

And what the heck was that last scene in the season finale? Was the rest of the episode written with the presumption that Fox was going to cancel the program?
posted by schmod at 2:37 PM on June 10, 2010


With regards to the Kurt/Finn/Burt scene:

Finn is 100% justified in being pissed at the room situation. He's just not justified in using the word that he does during it. I think that was kind of the point. Like if say, Finn had been in a situation with Matt where he was justifiably mad at him, but then used the n-word. The terminology went "below the belt," as it were. Some folks don't consider it below the belt, and Finn might not have thought of that (or cared) in the moment.

On another note, I didn't like that they did the Artie dances scene, I'd imagine that folks who are actually stuck in a wheelchair would be pretty pissed at it. Kevin McHale being an awesome dancer in real life + they didn't find someone actually handicapped they liked in the role does not excuse it to me, really.
posted by jenfullmoon at 3:14 PM on June 10, 2010


Copyright has nothing to do with this. They are performing the songs, not publishing them. Different rules.
posted by gjc at 4:09 PM on June 10, 2010


Er, I should say illegal downloading and all the IP-luls have nothing to do with it. Performance rights probably do fall under copyright.
posted by gjc at 4:11 PM on June 10, 2010


Like if say, Finn had been in a situation with Matt where he was justifiably mad at him

I just wanted to commend you for being one of maybe thirty people who know there's a character on Glee named "Matt."
posted by brookedel at 4:55 PM on June 10, 2010


PS By the way why are there two characters in the glee club who never get to talk and we know nothing about them? I understand on, like, LOST when there are 40 or so castaways that mill around in the background and never become characters, but TWO? There are TWO extras in the main cast? This isn't even a complaint. I just don't understand it at all.
posted by shakespeherian at 6:00 PM on June 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Well the one Asian dude is a dancer. Maybe he just can't act.

(Britney was also cast just as a dancer. Before Glee she was one of Beyonce's single ladies.)
posted by smackfu at 8:45 PM on June 10, 2010


Well the one Asian dude is a dancer. Maybe he just can't act.

This is an odd situation for a television program to be in.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:34 PM on June 10, 2010


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