Fighting with the Sky

Glee: Hairography

Posted on: November 25, 2009

Oh Glee.  This week Will is scared the Sue is leaking his set list and choreography to the competition but then feels bad about accusing one of the teams of cheating, so invites them to a scrimage — which of course leads to inviting the other team to a scrimage.  Who are the competition you may ask.  Well, they are a correctional school for girls and a school for the deaf.  Let’s just throw some stereotypes and ableism in there for a good old time.

I have to be honest, I didn’t really think there was a whole lot of plot this week.  Finn likes Rachel, but then Rachel changes her appearance because she thinks Finn will like her better.  Quinn is confused about her feelings for Puck, so invites him to babysit with her.  But he ends up “sexting” with Santana the whole time they are together.  So Finn and Quinn decide that they are in love again.

But despite the lack of plot, there certainly was a whole lot of problematic things about the episode.

Ok, let’s start with some of the very apparent ableism.  When one of the girls (the blond Cheerio, I don’t remember her name) is showing the glee club how to fling their hair around, she actually says “it’s like cool epilepsy.”  But she’s the dumb blond who says stupid things, so it’s ok.  Yeah, I’m sure people with epilepsy love being othered and objectified in this way.  And then there was the glee club for the school for the deaf.  I actually enjoyed the beginning of their performance of “Imagine.”  There was one main guy vocally singing the song and the rest of the club was sign singing the song.  It was actually pretty nice.  But then “our” lovely glee club was so “moved” (I guess) by the performance that they felt the need to join in.  They sang next to them and tried to join in on the signing.  Why?  Why do you need to take over their performance like that.  I’m sure it was meant to be this touching moment of teams joining together to sing “Imagine,” but it just felt to me like some great appropriation.

But don’t worry, they also sang “True Colors” at the end of the show while sitting in a  semi-circle with different colored shirts on.  I’m sorry, sure “True Colors” has a great message, but I really don’t like that song.  It’s just super-cheesy.

And then there’s Kurt’s makeover of Rachel.  Kurt (by the encouragement of Quinn) makes Rachel think that Finn will like her more if she dresses more provocatively — or not like a combination between a grandmother and a toddler as they say in the show.  Rachel is very beautiful and she already has a fondness for pretty short skirts.  But let’s slap some more makeup on her and skin-tight clothes to make the boys like her more.  This sends a great message.  But, again, don’t worry…Finn tells her that he liked her they way she was, he liked the way she dressed, and he doesn’t like what she’s done to herself.  So, yet again, Finn is the good guy and Rachel is just messed up in the head.

Which brings us to, yet again, the overwhelming theme of the show…boys are amazingly great and the girls are just crazy.  But this wasn’t necessarily the case with all of the guys this episode.  Puck shows us that he is still going to be who he is — which apparently a jerk.  He’ll be a father to Quinn’s baby but he’s still going to cheat on her if she doesn’t “give it up” to him.  I was really starting to like Puck, but then the writers had to go and do this.  Because he is the “stereotypical” high school guy.  All he really cares about is sex and doesn’t really care about anyone else.  It would be great with we saw some more nuanced characters of Glee.

I was really disappointed with this week’s episode.  Not only was there not a whole lot of plot and a whole lot of problematic content, the songs weren’t even that good.  That’s usually what keeps me going, as those of you who regularly read these reviews know.  But this episode, there just wasn’t really that much.  Period.

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10 Responses to "Glee: Hairography"

“Which brings us to, yet again, the overwhelming theme of the show…boys are amazingly great and the girls are just crazy”

I see your point about some crazy female characters on Glee… but as you note the guys aren’t perfect either. Not just Puck, but Finn often has airhead lines just like Brittany. Mr. Shue is sometimes portrayed as foolish too– bringing out the wigs, etc. The PE Teacher (not featured in tonight’s episode) is flawed as well.

You nailed it. ALL of the women in this show are portrayed as manipulative and selfish. And now Kurt has been framed in the same way, because being gay=being a girl, apparently.

S.P., the men are shown differently. Mr. Shu is often clueless and thoughtless and rude, but he’s not manipulative and obsessive like the girls are. Puck is indeed an asshole, but that’s not at all the same as the way in which the ladies are framed. Yes, both characters are troped but we’re seeing two different tropes, and they are a different kind of trope.

Laura’s not saying that the men are all perfect and the women are all bad, she’s saying that the consistent framing of women in this show as “crazy” is really troped and offensive. The fact that the show also makes Puck into a caricature of a high school boy does not redeem the way in which they handle the women. (Note, also, that Puck is being led astray by…an evil manipulative girl! He can’t help himself! He is powerless to the resist the Girl!)

There were exactly two things I liked about this episode – one, Tina singing. Two, we got evil!Sue back. I don’t mind Sue being an utterly horrible person, if she’d be consistently so. (Jane Lynch is hillarious enough to make evil!Sue endearing.) On the other hand, the flip-flopping between her being awful, and her secretly having a heart of gold has been getting on my nerves, because it makes her irrational. As you point out, that’s a massive problem with the gender portrayals on this show.

The scene with the half-deaf choir master in Will’s office was also egregious. He’s only half deaf, so I guess you can make all the deaf jokes you like about him, because he’s not *really* deaf, or something.

I agree the half-deaf choir master jokes weren’t funny… but as someone who doesn’t subscribe to cable, Glee is still one of my favorite shows (while 24 is off the air).

But anyway, I don’t find that women are portrayed worse than the men. The football coach is disgusting… Mr. Shue can’t even figure out his wife isn’t pregnant… I thought in the previous episode Finn’s mom was portrayed as a good person, whereas Quinn’s dad was a real jerk…. but I’m a guy so probably have a different perspective.

After watching the show this week I was searching the Internet trying to find out if the deaf choir in the show was a real-life deaf choir or were they hearing-able actors. That’s how I happened to stumble onto this blog. Does anyone know?

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

This post has been included in a linkspam at Access-Fandom. Thank you!

As an epileptic, I just wanted to note that that I felt in no way “othered” or “objectified” … and I actually find it somewhat offensive that some blogging feminist thinks she knows enough to comment on my reactions to an innocent (and pretty funny) airhead comment.

I hate that i like Glee. Its bright, funny, optimistic, and musical.

However, the characters are stereotypes parading around T.V under the guise of pseudo originality. However there really is nothing original about a stereotype; the effeminate gay boy who has daddy issues, the large and in charge black female vocalist, the jewish girl with large dreams, and my favorite the feminist coach who is loud, manipulative and self centered.

Maybe it just feels original because we are overwhelmed as viewers with mass amount of stereotypical characters who are giving leading parts.

For just once I would like to see the feminist not portrayed as bitch, the gay boy a sweet persecuted underdog, and the black female vocalist a mini aretha.

Its been done, just in small quantities

Beth M.,

You’re entitled to your feelings. As an epileptic, I WAS offended and know many others that feel the same way. This blogger got it right.

Kay, I am sincerely sorry you felt that way. And it is a completely legitimate way to feel. But I still think it is dangerous for any one person to take her own feelings (and yours) and project them onto an entire class of people. Which she does by referring to “people with epilepsy” — personally I think Brit had it right…thrashing your head about IS pretty cool epilepsy…I personally suffer from a rather uncool kind. But despite that, I refuse to let myself be “othered” or “objectified” by anything…and especially not dialogue from a harmless song about a lovable underdog show choir. Please don’t waste your energy being offended by things. For example, I let myself be offended by this blog and that is just silly.

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