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.

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