Saturday, February 12, 2011

Glee and it's message on Bullying

Don't read this post if you are a few episodes behind on Glee because there are massive spoilers.

There, you have been warned...if this post ruins the plot for you because you haven't seen the episodes yet, that is your own fault.

The recent story arc on Glee has dealt heavily with gay-bashing in schools, a timely topic and one that, frankly, we were all expecting given the recent number of suicides in the gay community. Glee writers are not above using their show as a pulpit and I honestly don't have a problem with that, especially when they are using that pulpit to teach that bullying is wrong...something the show has kind of been lax on sense the beginning.

I mean, think about it, the members of New Directions are verbally and physically abused, slushies are thrown in their faces and never does one teacher or the principal try to stop it. It's treated as if it's just part of high school life and Glee members should expect it, since they are at the bottom of the heap.
That should not be how the show treats the topic and it makes it look like bullying of unpopular kids should simply be a matter of course and that teachers should not reprimand students who do it. Glee club members regularly have clothing ruined and have to wash slushy out of their hair and eyes and has even one member of the football or hockey team been given a detention in one and a half seasons of the show?

That's why this story arc was needed, but maybe too little too late in several ways.

I recently had an argument with my mother about whether or not gay teens should have "special" counseling services, like the Trevor Project, available for them or not. She thinks not because it makes their problems seem more important than the issues of other bullied kids. I disagree, I vehemently disagree and I believe that gay teens DO need different and specialized counseling because they are dealing with a specialized problem...I think the number of kids committing suicide because of homophobia speaks to that. How many kids have committed suicide because they were called "four-eyes" after all?

Of course, while considering this argument and the recent story arc I found an article online asking if Glee had 'missed the point' in their episode and not in the way I thought they missed the point.

The author of the article wasn't wondering why they hadn't dealt more with typical day to day bullying in the show...he was wondering why they had let the homophobic football jock Karofsky off so easily...

First of all, I don't think this arc is anywhere close to over and I don't think they let him off easily.

For those of you that have forgotten, Karofsky is the jock that slammed Kurt into lockers and threatened to kill him if he told anyone that Karofsky kissed him in the locker room. Karofsky is the typical jock closet case, confused by his feelings toward the same sex he chooses to gay bash and use vitriolic anger to hide what he is really feeling.

Kurt was so afraid for his life that he left New Directions behind and transferred to a private school, Dalton Academy, but if you are caught up on the episodes you know that already.

Karofsky, while he wasn't punished nearly enough by the school board (and really, what were we expecting, the show is set in a small Ohio town), but he has been expelled for a short time and there has been various amounts of shouting and threats made by the members of New Directions toward him.
Letting him off easy? What, would they have preferred Karofsky was beaten to a bloody pulp for what he did? That would make New Directions no better than he is.

In the Superbowl episode the football team was forced to become part of the Glee club so that they could learn to work together. It was successful in that the football team and Glee club put on an amazing mash up of Thriller and Heads Will Roll (by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs). It will be a favorite of mine for this season. Also the football team won the Championship. Mr. Schuester, the Glee director, told Karofsky that he was really very good at Glee and if her put his energy into that instead of bullying he could be great and Finn told Karofsky that if he wanted to join the Glee club he would have to apologize to Kurt.
Karofsky basically told Finn to shove his invitation to join Glee club where the sun don't shine and he's back to being the angry bully.

I didn't see them letting Karofsky off the hook too easily, I saw Glee club (or at least a couple of them) reaching out to a troubled kid who needs to be a part of a group that will understand him and show him respect. He needs friends who will support him and not turn on him for being who he is.

I don't think that Karofsky being closeted makes his bullying justified, but what the author of that article fails to realize is that it does give a solution to how to stop him from bullying and it shows that we have to be willing to forgive people that have done terrible things to us, because sometimes being the bigger person can save more than just yourself.

In conclusion, I feel this story arc has been good and has been enlightening for many people watching it (clearly not all though...), but I think Glee in general is treating gay-bashing as something to speak out against...while they are treating slushies to the face and name-calling as comedic relief.

Glee...you still have some work to do, but I commend you for trying.

No comments: