TV: The Underlying Message in Glee’s “Born This Way” Episode.

 

The underlying message this week is that there is none: acceptance—of Rachel’s Jewish nose, Quinn’s chubby-checker past and Tina’s “Orient descent”—was right there on the surface for all to see.

This is Glee’s second Lady Gaga-themed episode, the first of which was very Gaga-centric, however this week’s effort kicked last seasons’ butt!

The storyline began with Rachel getting hit in the face by Finn during a dance number, and her doctor recommending she get a nose job to fix her deviated septum, like big-nosed babes, Jennifer Aniston and Ashlee Simpson, before her.

She decides to take angel-faced Quinn along to the appointment, using her nose as an example of what she wants the new and improved Rachel to look like.

This is followed up by a tear-jerking rendition of “Unpretty” by TLC by unlikely soul-sisters Rachel and Quinn.

You might remember a few episodes back (although it’s been so long since a new episode has aired, both on Ten and in the U.S., that you could be forgiven for not remembering) when Quinn morphed from struggling with her social standing after giving birth last season to prom-queen obsessed, “I’m relatively sane for a girl”-espousing zombie.

I didn’t buy it then, and I’m glad we get a more in-depth look at her life now.

Lauren Zizes decides to run for prom queen, with Puck by her side as her king. Most of the non-size-two students at McKinley are ecstatic to see someone who looks like them running for prom queen, which should have given Lauren the heads up that her plan to take down Quinn wouldn’t work: she unearths Quinn’s past as Lucy Fabray, before she transferred to McKinley in eighth grade.

Lucy was overweight, uncool, and bullied constantly at her old school, until she joined ballet, gymnastics and cheerleading, lost weight and asked her parents for a nose job, at which point they began to call her by her middle name, Quinn.

Lauren plasters posters of Quinn as Lucy all over the school, which inadvertently sees Quinn’s approval rating go up 40% because her student body realises she’s not just a vapid beautiful person, but someone with problems and a past, just like them.

But not all of the glee club’s members are accepting that they were “born this way” out in the open.

Santana manages to convince Dave Karofsky to help her get Kurt back to McKinley, or else she’ll tell everyone he’s gay. In turn, her “Macbethian” and “Latina Eve Harrington” ways, she believes, will help her become prom queen.

Eventually, word gets back to Kurt about what’s really going on, and he agrees to return to McKinley on the condition that Karofsky be schooled in acceptance of gays and lesbians, even if he doesn’t come out.

Santana could do well to adopt this school of thought, as she is still in the closet and still in pain that Brittany can’t be with her. Brittany makes Santana a “Lebanese” t-shirt for her to wear in this week’s performance (it was meant to say “lesbian”, but it’s a nice tie in to the “Born This Way” lyrics!)

Of course all the storylines are neatly wrapped up into a special 90 minute package, as is Glee’s style. Emma even manages to address her crippling OCD and goes to therapy.

But I think the most interesting “underlying message” of the episode was Santana’s view at the three-minute mark on changing things you’re not happy with.

As much as, on the one hand, our society preaches self-love and acceptance, what of all the beauty products, foods and exercise regimes that are spruiked to us on a daily basis via all mediums?

I don’t want to turn this into a rant on body image and the affect advertisements, magazines, TV, movies etc. have on it, but Santana does raise a good point: if changing things about you, like Rachel’s nose, Tina’s eye colour, or Sam’s “guppy lips”, makes you feel better about yourself, then so be it.

I got a tattoo a couple of weeks ago because I didn’t like the way the back of my neck looked without one; does that make me “hate myself”? Hell no! Anyone who knows me will tell you that I am confident in who I am, both on the inside and the outside. (Those who don’t just think I’m an arrogant bitch!)

But I think that if you are happy with yourself in general in most aspects of your life and can engage in “active critical thought” about the things you aren’t, what’s a little hairdo change here or gym membership there?

Or—dare I say it?—a nose job?

Related: The Underlying Message in Glee’s “Original Song” Episode.

Gwyneth Paltrow Addresses Tabloid Culture & Her Haters.

Glee “Sexy” Review.

The Underlying Message in Glee’s “Blame it on the Alcohol” Episode.

How to Make a Woman Fall in Love With You, Glee Style.

Glee “Silly Love Songs” Review.

The Underlying Message in Glee’s “Furt” Episode.

The (Belated) Underlying Message in Glee’s “Never Been Kissed” Episode.

The Underlying Message in Glee’s “The Rocky Horror Glee Show” Episode.

The Underlying Message in Glee’s “Duets” Episode.

The Underlying Message in Glee’s “Grilled Cheesus” Episode.

The Underlying Message in Glee’s “Britney/Brittany” Episode.

Is There Really a Beauty Myth?

Images via Megavideo.

Pop Culture Role Models.

 

From “Ita Rap & Tyra Parody Clips (and Girl Culture Stereotypes)” by Erica Bartle on Girl with a Satchel:

“In my teens, I played the R’n’B Boyz II Men/TLC lover, the shopping-mad Clueless girl, the Waves reading surfer girl, the Converse-wearing/Nirvana listening grunge girl (way before ’emo’ became a sub-culture of its own)—experimenting with these identities helped me forge social connections; pop culture informed the dialogue with my friends (we spoke in song lyrics and TV show-isms) and clothing help me fit in.

“Sub-culture identities fulfilled a purpose at the time: giving us something to cling to in the name of social approval. And there are plenty of readily available stereotypes, processed by the pop-culture machine, waiting to capture the attention (and money) of eager participants looking for some way to feel a legitimate part of the world. Lady Gaga’s tribe of Little Monsters being a case in point.

“But do they know, do they realise, that while freeing themselves from the scary terrain of the ‘outcast’, by buying into these social structures with their lingo and uniforms and Facebook groups, that they are actually binding themselves up, beholden to group approval based on one’s ability to play to type? And how many years it takes to strip all that superficiality away—with its various image-friendly accouterments—before you can truly say that you are free from artifice?”

Elsewhere: [Girl with a Satchel] Ita Rap & Tyra Parody Clips (and Girl Culture Stereotypes).

Images via YouTube, The Central Box, Oh the Scandal.