Who would’ve thought that an episode of Glee centring around The Rocky Horror Picture Show could be a catalyst for discussing male body image?
Not me, but that seems to be the underlying message in this week’s episode.
When Mr. Schuester announces to the glee club that they will be performing Rocky Horror after Emma tells him she went to see it with her new beau Carl, Rachel is quick to announce that she and Finn will be playing Janet and Brad. Finn is all for this until he realised he’ll have to perform much of the show in his “tighty-whiteys”. Santana and Brittany comment on this, saying they can’t wait to see Finn’s “hot mess” of a body as a result of eating sloppy joes for lunch everyday, in comparison to Sam’s rippling abs accompanied by gold hot pants in his role as Rocky. (If Cory Monteith had put on weight to give Finn an actual “hot mess” of a body, it might’ve lent his storyline more credibility.)
Finn voices his concerns to Rachel who, in her usual selfish ways, tells him that she doesn’t look like Brittany or Santana, but she’s still stripping down to her underwear, and she loves his body just the way it is.
In the locker-room, Finn broaches the subject again with Sam and Artie. As Sam is donning hot pants, he obviously doesn’t have many body image issues (until later in the episode, when Schuester suggests he play another character as the role is too risqué for a high schooler, which Sam misinterprets as him being too fat to pull off his costume), however Artie blames porn for warping females’ perceptions of male bodies:
“I personally blame the internet. Once internet porn was invented, girls could watch without having to make that embarrassing trip to the video store. Internet porn altered the female brain chemistry, making them more like men, and thus, more concerned with our bodies.”
Sounds an awful lot like Naomi Wolf’s argument about porn and its affect on the male brain chemistry, making them more concern with the female body and what it can do for them.
Elsewhere, at the beginning of the episode when the kids are choosing their roles, everyone thinks it would be fitting to have Kurt play Frank N. Furter, to which Kurt replies:
“There’s no way I’m playing a transvestite in high heels and fishnet wearing lipstick,”
as apparently being the only gay man in the club means automatically defaulting to play the tranny. This is particularly poignant, as there is still a lot of misunderstanding in the mainstream about gay, bi, trans etc. people and what exactly their gender roles entail.
Related: Is There Really a Beauty Myth?