Friday, September 23, 2011

Discussing Theatrical Nudity with Professor and Director Susan Kerner

Hiya, folks!

This semester I am taking a course called "Introduction to the Theatrical Medium" with Professor Susan Kerner. Susan has directed performances at Montclair State University such as Arcadia and The Grapes of Wrath and is currently directing Stage Door, which will be premiering at the Alexander Kasser Theater this upcoming November.

If you remember from my "Peak Performances and their Awkward Sexual Moments" installment of The Grapes of Wrath, I discuss the play's usage of nudity and the extra artistic element it brings to the stage. I had been wanting to discuss this topic with the actors, which I still might do, but thought of the idea this past week to discuss it with the director herself, beings though she is my professor this semester.

Click here to view our interview. Enjoy! :)

Monday, September 5, 2011

The Problems I Have with FOX's "Glee": Storylines (mainly Quinn's)

In my "Glee" "Representations" post, you may have noticed that I left out one thing: dumb blondes. Well, this is because I don't necessarily have a problem with it. You would've thought that as a blonde myself I would be offended but this isn't so. Brittany Pierce, the token dumb blonde of the series, is a joy to watch and her one liners are instant crowd pleasers. In the episode "A Very Glee Christmas," she reveals that she still believes in Santa Claus. Instead of being just dumb Brittany in this episode, her innocence is actually really cute and admirable. Also, blonde Cheerios coach Sue Sylvester always comes up with creative ways to try to bring down the glee club, and Terri, Will's diabolical blonde ex-wife, fools him for an entire season that she is pregnant, both of whom plans backfire. Basically, the blondes of "Glee" are enjoyable to watch.

Then finally we have Quinn Fabray, the main blonde of the series. Sure back in Season One Kurt pokes fun at her lack of intelligence in one of his inner monologues (the classic square root of four equals rainbows joke anyone?), but she doesn't necessarily deserve the "dumb blonde" label. Quinn knows what people's weaknesses are and uses these to her advantage, especially when it comes to men. She knows what it takes to turn Finn on and to make Sam pursue her. She comes up with strategies to serve her own agendas, such as "befriending" Rachel to get closer to Finn, making Finn believe that her child is his because she believes he would make a better father, working her way back onto the Cheerios squad and regaining her captain position, coming up with stories to mask her cheating, and getting people to vote for her for prom queen. She is one of those frightening intelligent characters because she is hard to read and you never know what she is thinking. Outwardly she is calm but inwardly she is devious.

However, this all being said, she also showcases plenty of failures as well. I am dedicating this piece to the storylines so far, with a spotlight on Quinn Fabray.

Dianna Agron plays Quinn Fabray
Quinn's General Storyline
We all know that once Quinn Fabray gets pregnant with Puck's child, her whole world falls apart and when Finn leaves her when he finds out the paternity, her life plummets even more because the love triangle between she, Finn, and Rachel gets a lot more serious. Rachel now had a chance with Finn and Quinn was no longer the perfect head celibate Queen Bee of the Cheerios cheerleading squad. However, since then she has pledged abstinence, got a new boyfriend, and actually willingly left the Cheerios for the New Directions without being kicked off, which is what originally happens when Sue finds out that she's pregnant in Season One. She eventually regains Finn but then loses him again to Rachel once again. Season Two ends with Quinn getting a haircut in New York and feeling better about herself. Because, you know, a haircut always changes a person's personality. :P But according to this article, she is going to return to her old ways. Wonderful. Can we please give this girl a decent interesting storyline? Recently she just seems pathetic.

Here are some suggestions of alternate storylines for Quinn Fabray:

In the Season One finale, Quinn gives birth to Beth, and thereafter we don't hear about the kid again after Shelby, Rachel's birth mother, adopts her. Hello! Quinn's life pretty much spirals out of control because of this major plot point that pretty much dominates Season One along with Kurt's coming out storyline, so much that we pretty much can't get away from it, and now the show acts like it didn't even happen? There seems to be a consensus among fans that Quinn and Puck should reunite with their illegitimate child, and it seems like the show will deliver according to this article.

Now I have some personal requests. One storyline involving Quinn that really infuriates me is the one when her father kicks her out of his home when he finds out his precious little girl is pregnant and the mother does nothing to stand up for her. This is the first time we really feel sorry for Quinn, beings though she is not a very likable character at first because she is the stereotypical mean cheerleader. I'm sorry but what kind of parents are these people? You do not do this to your pregnant sixteen-year-old daughter because it turns out she's not as perfect as you thought she was. In the Season One finale, Quinn's mom returns and reveals to Quinn that she has left her father because he cheated on her and wants her to move back home. Why she leaves the father for that reason instead of for him kicking their pregnant daughter out is what many people would probably like to know. I also find it funny how she doesn't check up on Quinn until now. I really didn't want Quinn to accept her proposal, but I'm grateful that she is there for Quinn when she goes into labor. What I think would be interesting is a reunion between father and daughter. I'd like to see if Quinn would accept him back into her life or not and how the confrontation would go down.

During her pregnancy, Quinn befriends Mercedes, who lets her stay with her family and is also there in the delivery room for the birth of Beth, heeding to Quinn's request. Their friendship is really heartwarming because it's the popular girl and outcast coming together and being there for each other. Quinn must feel very close with Mercedes in order to want her in the delivery room with her and it is actually my favorite part of the episode. Quinn is also there for Mercedes in Season One episode "Home" when she has a brief eating disorder. However, they seem to have drifted a bit since Beth's birth, so it would be nice to see them share more screen time as friends together again.

Now this last one may be a bit odd, which I thought of just recently. I kind of want to see Quinn form a relationship with Artie. He's pretty much the one guy in glee club who hasn't dated her yet and he knows her past so it's not like he's in for any surprises. He broke up with Brittany, so if he goes with Quinn, Brittany goes with Santana, and Finn goes with Rachel, everybody would be happy. Plus, when he chooses her name out of a hat to sing to in the Season One episode "Ballad," they both seem pretty satisfied with the outcome, which is what made me come up with this idea. There seems to be no bad blood between the two. As my final point, he's way more intelligent compared to her exes, which is something that she needs in a man.

Finn/Rachel/Quinn Love Triangle
Let me start off by saying that I really dislike Finn. I mean, he's a very supportive boyfriend to Rachel and a good friend to Artie, two examples of his good deeds, and there are other times when I actually do like him, but he just keeps giving me reasons not to. He's a moron and wimp when it comes to his girlfriends, and anything for that matter (though he does redeem himself in the Season Two finale when he stands up to Jesse St. James), which is a complete turnoff, and he does other random things that irritate me, but his most irritating is stringing along both Quinn and Rachel. When he breaks up with one, he goes to the other. I get it. He's confused and has feelings for two girls. That's normal. But he's just so annoying about it. What angers me the most is how he's always so quick to forgive Quinn even though she's never really honest with him and yet he can never forgive Rachel, even though Rachel constantly comes clean to him about everything, including QUINN's pregnancy in Season One. In the Season Two "Rumours" episode, Finn even says to Rachel that he doesn't know why he went back with Quinn. And guess what? He sits there with a dumbfounded look on his face.

I hate how much of a hypocrite he is. He gets so bent out of shape when these girls lie to him, but yet he lies to Rachel about being a virgin, even though he had already slept with Santana, and thinks he is not at fault at all. This is something a girlfriend should know about for her own sexual safety! To me, Rachel has every right to be upset and Finn acts like she shouldn't.

I am just so sick of seeing this same storyline and same characters being used since Day One. Both of these girls can do a lot better than Finn, though I do prefer him with Rachel because they love each other and are cute together, Finn always being so admirable of Rachel's enthusiasm, and I prefer Quinn with Sam (I'll get to that in a minute). These three and Kurt totally dominate the series so it would be nice to see other characters have some developing storylines. Apparently that's what is happening with Season Three, so I am looking forward to it.

Sam and Quinn Break Up
Sam (Chord Overstreet) and Quinn (Dianna Agron)
I am an ultimate Sam and Quinn shipper, and I blame Quinn for this one. She really messes up big time here. After the whole fiasco in Season One being impregnated by her boyfriend Finn's best friend Puck, "Trouty Mouth" himself Sam Evans enters Season Two as her blonde knight in shining armor. He never judges her on her past and is always there for her. Plus, he pursues and courts her, which I really like. He even tells her he loves her and proposes to her, which I find to be kind of corny considering they are high school kids who just recently met, but he promises his faithfulness with the promise ring, which is pretty honorable. They are just an overall very adorable couple with plenty of fangirl worthy moments.

Here is, in my opinion, their best moment together. This is from the episode "Special Education."

When Finn breaks up with Rachel, he sets his sights on Quinn after she kisses him for convincing her to rejoin New Directions in the "Thriller" episode. This is Quinn's first wrong move of the season. All of a sudden Finn's feelings for her start flooding back, but he also considers Sam a threat because he is slowly but surely replacing him as leader for both the football team and glee club, so we can derive from all this that he wants to hurt him for these reasons just as much as he was hurt by his two girlfriends. Long story short Quinn cheats on Sam with Finn, lies to Sam about it, but then Sam leaves her for Santana anyway when he finds out the truth. I think I am more heartbroken about this breakup than the infamous Finn and Rachel breakup because Quinn is actually a pretty miserable character and she finally finds happiness with Sam, so I wish the writers would have left her alone for a while and let her be in harmony. Another reason is that I think deep down inside we all feel that Finn and Rachel will always find their way back to each other. They're like the "Ross and Rachel" of the series.

It's understandable that Quinn could still have feelings for Finn, beings though he is her first love, but she totally goes about it the wrong way. She should have told Sam about this. Anything is better than going behind his back. She is just a confused teenager. Basically Quinn ruins a perfectly good thing and since Chord Overstreet, the actor who plays Sam, is not returning for Season Three, which I am very heartbroken about by the way, we have absolutely no hope of them reuniting.

Perhaps he will surprise us all and still show up? I doubt it. But hey, we can dream.

Lucy Caboosey
Hey, did you know that Quinn's real first name is "Lucy" and that "Quinn" is her middle name? I didn't, and it should have stayed that way. We know her as "Quinn" and now "Lucy" totally ruins that dynamic.

When Quinn and Lauren Zizes battle for the coveted prom queen title in the "Born This Way" episode, Lauren digs up some dirt on our favorite blonde princess and discovers that she was not always a foxy prima donna but rather a chubby dorky preteen, dubbed as "Lucy Caboosey." Since then, Quinn has changed her whole identity and been running from her past.

I don't really know what to think about this storyline, so I'll let my friend Kelly, a fellow Gleek who is highly disgusted by this twist, have the floor:

"Lucy Caboosey, a name that sends a shiver down my spine just thinking about it. One of the things I've always liked about Glee is the fact that even as ridiculous as some of the scenarios can be there's usually a likable sense of realism grounding them. However, the introduction of Quinn's 'backstory' as a chubby prepubescent girl with glasses and a big schnozz is a revelation that I can only term as 'unforgivable.' Good Lord where do I even begin with how bad this is? I admit during the first season of 'Glee' Quinn wasn't exactly my favorite character. To be honest, I flat out hated her guts. Although as much as I disliked her and despised her manipulative ways, once the season grew on, she did as well. Once this slight shift in character happened she started becoming much more interesting instead of the one note cheerleader hypocrite persona she started out as and it was a very nice and believable development.
In fact, once season 2 came about Quinn was actually the character I was most anxious to see since I was eager to see how the past experience as being an outcast for the first time in her life would play out. 
Little did I know how sorely disappointed I was when Quinn's development basically took two steps forward and about twenty steps back. The one thing that really gets under my skin about the Lucy Caboosey back story is that it's completely unnecessary, not to mention way too over the top. Even within the reality of the Glee-verse, and that's saying a lot. Lucy Caboosey is the writers' poor attempt to restore sympathy for Quinn after the complete nosedive (no pun intended) her character took during the second season. Quinn's past had really already been established. She was the girl who had always been the beautiful popular girl and never really knew what it was like to be the outcast until her hypocritical ways came back to bite her. By giving her a past experience of rejection it completely undercuts the character that had been built up the past season and a half. Never before had they ever hinted that Quinn had experienced 'nerddom' before, so this revelation is totally unprecedented. Kind of like going to get water and after taking a sip you realize it's actually sour milk. Lucy Caboosey really only serves the purpose of the episode, not the complete story arc of the season. It was just a haphazard attempt to connect Quinn, Rachel, and Lauren. I'll be very surprised and disgusted if/when the Lucy Caboosey arc makes an appearance on the show again, because it is something I and the show alike could easily live without. In the simplest of forms, it's just lazy writing." -Kelly T.

I agree with this argument, but yet I kind of understand this back story only because it explains why Quinn is so obsessed with her reputation and maintaining it.

Naya Rivera plays Santana Lopez
Santana's Sexuality and Love for Brittany Revealed
A storyline that doesn't involve Quinn??? Holy moley!

Well, "Brittana" does have something to do with Quinn. At the beginning the trio serves as henchmen for Sue, but Santana and Brittany partake in activities that give them a special bond.

These two have already established some lesbian tendencies and we know that they love each other just shown by how close they are, so this isn't really much of a shocker. Santana reveals that she wants to be in a relationship with Brittany but is completely terrified about what people would think and states that her struggle is the reason why she is so mean, which can explain why she meddles in every other relationship in the glee club. But now that she has done this she is often depressing and not as funny or sarcastic as she used to be. She is known as the "bitch" of the series and is actually one of the show's original villains, and we know that the villains of this show are actually pretty comically sarcastic (Sue Sylvester), so her bitchiness is actually something we really like about her since that's how we know her.

Now this storyline kind of ruins that view of her because now her personality has changed so drastically and she is not the same Santana the series opened up with. Granted, now that she has revealed her sexuality she has become nicer and a better friend, but her bitchiness is somewhat lacking, so I'm thinking that this particular storyline is a mistake. A Santana without a constant dig, while enjoying it, is just plain weird.

Both Quinn and Santana have such high potential to be interesting characters, so I think that's why I care so much. Towards the beginning of Season Two, when Sam makes his advances, Quinn initially rejects him to focus on herself and take things slow, and I was proud of her. Also, much like Rachel, she now stands her ground with how far to take things during makeout sessions with her boyfriend. It shows that she has learned from her mistakes in Season One and is now cautious of her actions, showing that she is growing as a character and maturing as a woman, which is relatable to other teenage girls. But then, the writers have her backtrack and literally make the same mistakes she made in Season One. In the Season Two finale she throws a hissy fit in front of Santana and Brittany in their New York hotel room about how she doesn't care about Nationals and that they are the popular girls so why shouldn't they get what they want, which is actually weird logic if you think about it. She then says, "I just want somebody to love me." As emotional as she is in this scene, it's so hard to feel sorry for her because she does have people love her but she blows it each time. However, on a lighter note, what makes this scene likable is the well acted conversation between the three characters and how it shows a heartwarming friendship between Quinn and "Brittana," which is often on the rocks throughout the series.

Here's to hoping that Quinn actually makes some good decisions in Season Three and changes for the better, not necessarily the way Santana has changed, for I want her to remain the same character, but rather to make her a more likable character...

Quinn Fabray in the Season Three promo video

...Ummmm.....wuh oh. What is this? This isn't exactly what I meant. Geez and here I thought Santana changed a lot but it seems that Quinn has done a whole 180! Sure she looks cool but this is not the Quinn Fabray character we all know! I said change a little bit not change every little thing about her! Oh, well. Let's just see what happens with this. 

Friday, September 2, 2011

The Problems I Have with FOX's "Glee": Representations

So I love the FOX primetime series "Glee." It makes me laugh, it makes me cry, it makes me irritated, it makes me feel every emotion imaginable. However, there are certain aspects of this show that rub me wrong, so here I am expressing these feelings. I am going to separate my grievances into categories.

One thing that "Glee" seems to do is represent every cultural background, which is a great thing. For example, it does well in portraying Kurt's struggle being the only openly gay kid at school and Blaine's memories of being harrassed for his sexuality as well as the struggles of the resident closet homosexuals Karofsky and Santana.

However, in some instances, "Glee" isn't quite there yet when it comes to representing certain demographics (I seem to love using this word), so here are some of my observations.

Finn (Cory Monteith) and Sam (Chord Overstreet)
White Guys are Stupid
That they are, and when it comes to dating Quinn Fabray, this seems to be a requirement. I can't really state every single dumb white guy moment on the show, but if you were to watch it, you'd see what I mean. Finn is gullible and dumb, Sam is gullible and inexperienced, and Puck is well, Puck. The funny thing is though, there are times when Puck is actually smarter than the other two. He is able to figure out that Quinn's baby is his, often recognizes Finn's love for Rachel, and finds ways to serve his own agendas, all while being suave in his speaking.

Puck (Mark Salling) and Finn (Cory Monteith)
 All three of these guys make these idiotic remarks and do stupid actions from time to time and even the other characters seem to comment on this. What I hate the most is when somebody tells them something, especially if it's bad news, and they just sit there with this dumbfounded look on their faces not knowing what to do. It's like, react already!

It doesn't help that they're jocks as well. You can't be a dumb white guy on TV without being a football player in high school first.

However, there are white guys in the show who do exhibit some intelligence, and they are Kurt, Blaine, and Artie. Oh, look. They aren't jocks. What a surprise. Well, Artie is, but that's not the point. He isn't one originally. Kurt and Blaine are both extremely cunning. They're also both gay. Artie shows signs of clever thinking as well. He wears glasses and, let's be honest, sports a nerdy style. Both gay men and nerdy men are stereotypically smart, so of course the characters that represent these demographics must display this quality. Hey, I think it's a compliment.

So wasn't there something else that Finn, Puck, and Sam have in common? Oh, yeah. That's right. They're ATTRACTIVE! Nothing against the other guys, for they're handsome as well, but Cory Monteith, Mark Salling, and Chord Overstreet seem to bring a lot of eye candy and muscle to the show, thus causing some fangirling results among their fans.

Basically what "Glee" does here is provide us with a formula that has molded dumb white guy TV and movie characters since the beginning of media history. They have to be white, clueless, hot, straight, play some sort of sport, preferably football, obsess over their looks and reputation, have plenty of shirtless scenes (yowza!), and date the head cheerleader, in this case, Quinn Fabray. Yeah, that sounds about right.

Poor representation of black and latino men
Think about it. There's that one black guy named Matt back in Season One, but he only has like two lines in the whole season. Then there is Karofsky's friend, Azimio, who accompanies him in torturing Kurt about his homosexuality and is the one guy on the football team who continues to be difficult to the New Directions. I didn't even know his name until the last day of August. And, there are absolutely no latino men. Thankfully I read that a new black male character, Shane, is coming in as Mercedes's boyfriend, so we might see this resolved sooner than later.

Why didn't the show start off with them as freshmen?
Something really heartbreaking that the show is throwing at us for Season Three is that some beloved characters will be graduating. But what I've always wondered is why we didn't watch them grow all four years. In one of the very first episodes, Rachel states that she is a sophomore. I keep thinking that this was done to already have their reputations intact before the "Pilot," whereas if the show began with them in freshman year they would have to spend the whole season developing their reputations, wasting a lot of time and not taking the show where it needed to be. Regardless, it still feels incomplete to me. I feel deprived of an extra year with the original characters together.

Football Captain and Cheerleading Captain as sophomores?
When the series first opens up, Finn is the quarterback captain of the football team and Quinn is the cheerleading captain of the Cheerios, making them the ultimate power couple. Um, don't these honors normally go to seniors? Where are the upperclassmen in this school? In fact, now that I think about it, we never see the main characters deal with any upperclassmen ever, except for maybe Jesse St. James, who is a senior when they are sophomores. I don't understand how two teenagers are able to be so popular and in charge of their respective groups in only their second year of high school. Even juniors would make more sense, but sophomores? They're still starting out. And, when Sue kicks Quinn off the squad for being pregnant, she replaces her position with Santana, who is also a sophomore! In Season Three they are going to be seniors, so I guess none of this really matters now.

Finn (Cory Monteith) and Rachel (Lea Michele)
Women are the Cause of Breakups
Well, let's just say that I would love to see a girl break up with her boyfriend because of something the guy does. Or just have a girl break up with her boyfriend in general.

Let's go over the rundown of "Glee" relationships. Finn breaks up with Quinn for cheating on him with Puck and then hooks up with Rachel. Finn still has feelings for Quinn, so her breaks it off with Rachel only to get back with her again in the Season One finale. Quinn hooks up with Sam and for awhile everything is good. Rachel cheats on Finn with Puck when she finds out that he slept with Santana before they got together and he leaves her. Quinn cheats on Sam with Finn and then Sam leaves her. Finn and Quinn once again become a couple. Finally, Finn leaves Quinn because he is so overcome with love for Rachel. Also, Artie confronts Brittany about cheating on him with Santana. Now let's bring in some of the adults as well. Carl leaves his wife, guidance counselor Emma, for still being in love with Will. Glee club moderator Will leaves his wife and high school sweetheart Terri for faking a pregnancy.

Do you see my point? This show makes women out to be terrible girlfriends and wives! It seems like everything is always their fault! The blame is not evenly distributed well, as if guys never do anything wrong in relationships. What I would like to see is a guy screwing up big time like some of these girls have and the girl leaving.

But, however, I guess you can say that the girls have their share in dumping their boyfriends as well. For example, Brittany leaves Artie when Artie calls her "stupid," but I don't necessarily count that because the entire time she cheats on him with Santana without really knowing it. However, it is Brittany's decision to break up, not Artie's. Also, Rachel dumps Jesse after he betrays her, but that is kind of on him leaving her for Vocal Adrenaline and I don't take that relationship seriously anyway. There may be more, but I think my point still stands.

"Glee" makes it a point to emulate real life while also throwing in some cartoonish humor here and there. I think a lot of people appreciate the arts and music, so I don't understand why "Glee" seems to think that so many people knock it and make New Directions the constant victim of ridicule. So they sing and occasionally dance. Big deal! Do people not know what singing and dancing is? Do people not know that there are lot of people who do so, plenty for a living? Is that what "Glee" is assuming about life nowadays? Even in the "A Very Glee Christmas" episode, when the New Directions are caroling in another school, the kids heckle them and the TEACHER throws her shoe at them! I mean, seriously?!? People hate them that much? I know that it is meant as a typical "Glee" joke, but it's just plain S-T-U-P-I-D.

The McKinley High School hockey team,
that exists for only one episode, prepares some slushie damage
The members of New Directions are always complaining about how everybody hates them because they are in this club, when in reality, nobody in the school seems to care. The only people who give them grief are the jocks. How stereotypically fitting. Actually, not even the jocks because the other members of the football team don't seem to care either. It's only Karofsky and Azimio who insult them. The other guys just go with the flow. And then there's that one scene of the hockey players, who we never see until the "Thriller" episode and then never see again thereafter, preparing to "slushie" both the male glee club members and the football team for taking part in glee club as an attempt to unite the two groups who are constantly at war with each other. Does it ever end?

I get how the gist of the show is that the New Directions members are the underdogs of the school who are trying to make names for themselves, and I know that these underdogs being "slushied" is a running gag and theme of the show, but I really don't find what they face realistic. This idea was cool and unique at the beginning, but now it is getting old, immature, and downright annoying me. It's just not funny anymore. They need to find a more intelligent and realistic conflict for the New Directions to face besides getting, ahem, "slushied" and insulted because I find it hard to believe that everybody they interact with hates the arts. The glee club has been running for two school years now so it's about time people left them alone and just accept the fact that they exist. I know bullying occurs in high school, but the fact that they are constantly attacked for this reason seems kind of ridiculous. When did it become common knowledge that the arts often come secondary to athletics and is less cool and likable? Also, since when does having any artistic talent at all make you feminine, which is another accusation of the jocks? And, are we supposed to assume that jocks are always the bullies in every setting? How do the writers of "Glee" see this in real life? Because I don't necessarily. Basically all of this seems so cliche so I think evolution of material is in order. Glee clubs exist in real life and sometimes I think that the positive reception of these clubs, though I will admit they are at times, are not portrayed well in this TV show.