Vintage Valentines Day cards that glorify intimate partner violence. [Sociological Images]
Furthermore, Monteith as Finn Hudson embodied the fear of failure and being stuck in a small town with little to no prospects. Drawing on his real-life experiences, perhaps? [The Atlantic]
Got daddy issues? The ultimate TV father/lovers. [Daily Life]
I went to a Lady Gaga variety fundraising night and wrote about it for TheatrePress.
Homosexuality in hip hop. [The Guardian]
The Pixar Theory: why Brave, Toy Story, Monsters Inc. et al are all linked together as part of the same story as opposed to different ones. The mind boggles. [Jon Negroni]
The underlying religious messages in Man of Steel. [EW Pop Watch]
Apparently the episode in which Ryder and Kitty reveal that they were molested as children was made in partnership with RAINN, the Rape, Abuse & Incest Nation Network, although you wouldn’t think it from Sam and Artie’s reaction to Ryder’s confession.
“Some hot 18-year-old played with your junk? I’d kill for that!”
“Why are you ashamed of this?”
While their responses are typical of many of the attitudes surrounding female-on-male sexual assault, the fact that these were really the only strong reactions—apart from Marley, Tina and Mr. Schue’s meek protestations about it being “not cool”—before the show moved on doesn’t really scream sexual assault awareness.
Artie, Sam et al.’s feedback simply buys into the notion that girls who are sexually assaulted are sluts who wanted it (Kitty’s depiction on the show as a bitchy, sexually promiscuous cheerleader proves this, though in their defence I doubt the writers had this storyline in mind when they created her character) and boys are sexually awakened studs. Had the episode aired a follow-up scene in which Mr. Schue led the class in an after school special-esque speech about the detrimental effects of sexual assault and the accompanying attitudes surrounding it, it would have been schmaltzy and patronising as only Glee can be, but at least it would have taken a crack at dismantling such bias.
Elsewhere: [RAINN] Glee & RAINN Team Up for Episode.
Image via Wikia.
Apparent gun-toter Sue Sylvester sums up the phenomenon about guns in school best with her monologue about why she allegedly teaches at William McKinley High School armed:
“In light of recent events, I feel more safe with it in my office… The safety net of the public mental health system is gone. Parents are too busy working three jobs to look after them. And the gun yahoos are so worked up about Obama taking away their guns that every house has a readily available arsenal.”
In light of such recent events—namely the Sandy Hook elementary school massacre, but after the past week in America, pick your act of mass violence, any act of mass violence—perhaps it was too soon for Glee to touch on this topic, so artlessly, might I add. But, with the U.S. Senate vetoing the implementation of background checks for prospective gun purchasers and the call for teachers to carry firearms in the wake of Sandy Hook, we need to be discussing gun safety more than ever. It’s just that Glee, what with its disjointed storytelling consisting of one part Brittany-thinks-it’s-the-end-of-the-world-so-let’s-turn-this-into-an-after-school-special-about-the-importance-of-telling-our-loved-ones-how-much-they-mean-to-us, one part truly affecting ten minutes of the New Directions kids cowering in the choir room as a gun goes off, didn’t do the issue justice. As always, the show has so much potential but fails to live up to it.
Later in the episode, it is revealed that Becky Jackson was the one who brought the gun to school, which sheds light on Sue’s remarks about mental health. Becky was one of the suspects I had in mind as the events unfolded, along with dejected Ryder and conspicuously absent Brittany, who arguably would have been better choices but, being Glee, of course they took the easy way out: give the mentally disabled kid the gun. (Apparently this is going to open up a discourse about Becky’s condition and background but in all likelihood we’ll probably never hear about it again.)
The anticlimax of the shooting all being a big misunderstanding reminded me of Dave Karofsky’s suicide attempt and Quinn’s car accident last season: all had the potential to shock audiences and talk about mental health, but Glee chose the easy, happy ending instead.
In Sue’s closing statement as Principal Figgins fires her, she says:
“An entire career of doing the right thing—winning… I sent Cheerios off to the Ivy Leagues. I’ve educated girls who are CEOs of Fortune 500 companies. They’re mothers… Gold medalists… I’ve coached two Grammy winners. An internet billionaire and a lesbian secretary of state [Hillary Clinton?!]. But all I’ll be remembered for is this one thing? It’ll be the first line of my obituary.”
And in so doing, she makes a pertinent commentary on American culture: “winning” is the “right thing”, and in so many instances, this involves the use of weapons: war, the upholding of the second amendment, phallic sports equipment as artillery, masculinity in general… I’m sure Glee was not intending to make such a statement, and thus it seems a little disjointed.
Another point I also don’t think they were trying to make, but was quite timely and humorous, was that of the shooting making Sue’s obituary. Let’s be real: the only thing that’s making her obit is her homemaking skills.
Image via YouTube.
While Chris Brown is hardly in the guilty pleasures league of Wham!, Barry Manilow and the Spice Girls—the other shameful secrets of the New Directions—it was nice to see Glee address the notion of “liking the art but not the artist”.
This is an issue I’ve been grappling with lately as I write some wrestling-related pieces; for all its racism, misogyny, homophobia, ableism and promotion of a rigid type of masculinity, is it still okay for a level-headed person to like professional wrestling? Much the same, is it okay for someone who acknowledges Brown for the “douchebag” he is (“I don’t think that douche is a strong enough word to describe him,” interjects Unique) to still like his music?
I personally have a couple of Brown songs on my iTunes (purchased pre-Rihanna beating, might I add?!), and against my best efforts, I do quite like “Turn Up the Music”, but I refuse to pay for anything he’s selling and make it my personal mission instead to compensate him with as much bad press as possible. I have even been known to exit a pumping dancefloor when a Brown song comes on, if only for the principle of it.
In researching one of the abovementioned wrestling articles, I came across a couple of articles that really resonate with this idea. In an article about female stereotypes in video games, Anita Sarkeesian asserts it is “both possible and even necessary to simultaneously enjoy media while being critical of its more problematic or pernicious aspects.” Similarly, in her fantastic post about the intersection of rap, feminism and cunnilingus, which I linked to here a couple of weeks ago, Maddie Collier urges us to acknowledge the instances our pop culture of choice “sickens and disappoints us” in order to “fully appreciate the moments when it’s good and kind and real”. And the Social Justice League has a whole article on the topic.
After incurring the ire of the feminists, Jake decides to change his guilty pleasure song choice from Chris Brown to another Brown: Bobby. While this is problematic in itself—which Kitty and Artie point out to Jake, who’s apparently oblivious to the whole Bobby and Whitney thing—it highlighted the fact that it is “My Prerogative” to like problematic pop culture. Just as long as we’re acknowledging where it goes wrong, right?
But “does it really matter what a couple of high school kids think?” Yes. Because as avid pop culture consumers they’re shaping the attitudes of tomorrow. And unless we’re educating them in the ways of navigating pop culture safely, the seemingly widely held belief that hitting your partner is justified will continue on into the next generation.
Image via Ch131.
Male body image was the word(s) in Tuesday night’s (excuse the one-day-lateness of this post, as I was all ready to settle down in front of the TV last night to watch “Naked” on Channel Ten, only to discover that Glee has now been demoted to Eleven on Tuesday nights) episode, in which Tina (she’s just a wealth of ideas when it comes to Blaine) suggests New Directions raise money for regionals by producing a “Men of McKinley” calendar.
Being the only non-able bodied man in the group, Artie is understandably perturbed, and defensively asks why the women of McKinley High aren’t being objectified in the calendar, also. Kitty rejoins:
“Girls are the ones that buy stuff. It’s a consumer-driven economy. Those Twilight books are poop on paper and we’ve turned them into a billion dollar industry.”
Yes, ’cause women aren’t capable of deciphering what’s drivel and what’s not. They’re also only capable of being objectified or the objectifiers, never the subjects.
Kitty makes a fair point, though, that hot, shirtless men are more likely to make more money for the club’s regionals fund that sexy schoolgirls. And, let’s face it, we get enough of that already.
None of the Glee men stray from the socially acceptable norm of what’s attractive, so that just leaves wheelchair-bound Artie to take on the body image issues that aren’t exclusively the realm of women, he tells Finn.
Wait a minute: wasn’t there an episode this time two years ago in which Finn was the one with the body hang-ups and Artie espoused words of wisdom for navigating the female gaze as a high school boy? While Finn might have grown up since then and Artie’s still in a wheelchair, it’s just another example of the lack of continuity and explanation in Glee.
At the other end of the spectrum, we have teenage Adonis, Sam, turning into an egomaniac when he receives an überlow SAT score and thinks he has to rely on his looks alone to get by in life.
Meanwhile in New York City, Rachel accepts a role in a student film in which she’ll have to be topless. She decides to do the nude scene, much to the chagrin of Kurt, who says Rachel’ll never be taken seriously as an actress. Supportive boyfriend, Brody, retorts that all the serious actresses have done nude scenes. Nudity=Oscar, as I’m sure Seth MacFarlane would concur…
Images via Ch131.
And that is: empowerment! Yay! ’Cause nothing is more empowering than a heteronormative school dance where the women ask the men to be their dates, right?
That’s according to Tina Cohen-Chang, at least, who comes up with the idea for a myriad of reasons: a prelude to the upcoming prom, an excuse to get close to gay crush Blaine, and something for her fellow “Too Young to Be Bitter” club members to get behind in their quest to become, um…, less bitter.
Coach Beiste is all for the dance, because Sadie Hawkins is a metaphor for empowerment, duh, as we’ve already established in the opening paragraph. But it’s not just about socio-sexual empowerment, Beiste says it’s also about gaining the strength to follow your dreams, as she did after her first Sadie Hawkins dance when she decided to follow her passion for football.
Beiste’s overweight and unconventionally unfeminine student counterpart, Lauren Zizes (who, by the way, hasn’t been seen since the end of season two. Way to go with the continuity, Glee writers), is part of the “Too Young to Be Bitter” club, too, and by the end of the episode has the courage to both ask Joe to dance at Sadie Hawkins and apply for a wrestling scholarship at Harvard. This, along with the other members’ success at the dance, apparently calls for the disbanding of the club because everyone’s empowered now.
But the undercurrent flowing through this episode was Blaine and Sam’s sleuthing regarding the Warblers: Sam seems to think the team is using human growth hormones because of their energetic stage presence, a video of Hunter Carrington allegedly ‘roid raging in a coffee shop, the Warblers’ suddenly larger physical appearance, and the testimony of former Warbler, sunshiney Trent.
Apart from being a suspiciously similar plotline to Pitch Perfect, it just goes to show that “Sadie Hawkins” was about completely superficial lipstick feminism and it was the boys who really saved the day.
Images via Ch131.