Kurt as “predatory gay”, also Karofsky’s privilege

Karofsky seemed to merit special consideration because he’s a closeted gay who’s overcompensating. It seems unlikely a straight gay-hater would have gotten the same treatment.

When Karofsky apologized and Kurt returned to McKinley High, it was a sham. The bully had no remorse — it was part of a plan to hide his sexuality and win the race for prom king.

A horrible message indeed.

“Glee” has made mistakes before. In the first season, good-guy dad Burt Hummel (Mike O’Malley) came down hard on Finn for calling Kurt’s redecorating efforts “faggy.” Burt’s heart was in the right place, but Finn had a reason to be uncomfortable. Kurt had hit on him repeatedly, sexually harassing his soon-to-be stepbrother.

It played into the stereotype that gays pursue straights and attempt to convert them.

via Scott D. Pierce: Is ‘Glee’ too gay? The question is offensive | The Salt Lake Tribune.

From the title of the piece, I’d expected to largely agree with the writer. And then, OUCH. Bitch-slapped by an iceberg.

I’ve just quoted a particularly problematic section, but do go read the rest.

Now about his:

Karofsky seemed to merit special consideration because he’s a closeted gay who’s overcompensating. It seems unlikely a straight gay-hater would have gotten the same treatment.

There is nothing like the “poor straight guy” routine. I mean, those poor heterosexuals can never get a break.

Of course there is “special consideration” — I’d call it “consideration” — for someone working out their own issues rather than a random straight guy whose homophobia is not rooted in repression and self-hatred. And while the closeted guy is sometimes more dangerous, they are also, still, part of our community, part of our struggle and a victim of a society that is still way too homophobic. So, you know what? Yeah, he gets “special consideration”. He still deserves to pay the consequences of what he’s done,but, believe me, he’ll relive every threat he uttered for the rest of his life. I have some experience with being a homophobic homosexual, so I know.

Now, on to the accusation that Kurt’s pursuit of Finn was predatory. It wasn’t. First, the power dynamic was backwards for it to be in any way predatory. Did Kurt want Finn to be gay? Maybe. He definitely wanted Finn to like him. Did it perpetuate a stereotype of gays seeking to convert and molest straight people? Maybe, but if it did, it’s because people are idiots. And Finn still had no business using the word he did, regardless of how uncomfortable Kurt was making him. And I’m not sure, but I think Finn was talking out his ass when he said that if he was pursuing a girl like Kurt pursued him, she’d take out a restraining order, or are we meant to believe that something more happened off-camera?

Too many feelings.

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6 thoughts on “Kurt as “predatory gay”, also Karofsky’s privilege

  1. re: Dave:
    I interpret Pierce as saying that it was a bad writing choice to have Dave forgiven so easily, for what the writer considers a sham reason, when the bullying was extremely serious and aggressive and should not have been brushed aside so lightly, regardless of the sexual orientation of the bully. Pierce writes that Dave “had no remorse — it was part of a plan to hide his sexuality and win the race for prom king. A horrible message indeed.”

    I disagree with his interpretation. I think Dave had true remorse, felt he had to hide his sexuality, and was just going along with Santana’s Prom King plan because she had the power to out him. For me, that is sufficient reason (in a Glee plot) for Kurt to consider/believe his turn-around. Pierce also thinks the New Directions kids befriended Dave with his apology, and I don’t remember it that way; I’d have to re-watch it.

    (More on Kurt, later.)

  2. Oh Karofsky had remorse from the get-go, but the reason Kurt came back is because he wanted to, and because he felt like he knew that, at the very least, Karofsky was no longer in the same place.

    I actually think it was an excellent — if surprisingly realistic — message. Kurt’s life doesn’t need to revolve around Karofsky’s actual feelings. He just needs to make sure he’s safe and then do what he wants. And that’s what he’s done. Kurt — people like him anyway — will spend their lives having to put up with people who don’t really have any remorse. But if you want to be employed, or exist in real life, you learn to let go of the stuff that is not useful to you, as long as there is no actual danger.

    And I think you’re right. The ND kids definitely have not befriended Karofsky, even if he’s existing on the periphery of their social group right now because of his relationship with Santana.

  3. re: Kurt:
    You know, I HATE HATE HATE the phrase ‘predatory gay’. It pains me to even write it. It says more about the person who uses it than anyone they’re referring to. The power dynamic is not there, so what you are really talking about is unrequited love/crushes. And NO ONE calls a straight ANYONE “predatory” when they have unrequited love/crushes. ARG.

    Per the quoted column, no one says a straight person is trying to “convert” someone when they have a crush on them. People love who they love, and sometimes the other person doesn’t love them back, end of story.

    You know who could be considered predatory on Glee? Puck, for trying to push others into actual sexual relations. You know who cannot? A 16-year-old with their first crush who thinks that somehow finagling sharing a room with their crush and then decorating it like a harem will somehow make the object of their crush fall in love with them and then they can maybe hold hands.

    Kurt was misguided, and what he did was ethically questionable and conniving, and… guess what? It also completely backfired and gets called out in a future episode. And if it had been a young girl and Finn, no threat, just wacky hijinks, but it never would have happened because no parent would let two straight teenagers of the opposite sex share the same room, especially if they knew there were crushes going on.

    tl;dr: I agree with you on the ” if it did, it’s because people are idiots.”

  4. And the reason no one knew there was a crush going on?

    1. No one was looking for it. Straight world sees straight stuff.

    2. Finn was far too ashamed to tell anyone that a gay guy was crushing on him. Because it’s something to be ashamed of. Obviously.

    Kurt was most definitely misguided and a little bit bizarre in his attempts — I love your description:

    A 16-year-old with their first crush who thinks that somehow finagling sharing a room with their crush and then decorating it like a harem will somehow make the object of their crush fall in love with them and then they can maybe hold hands.

  5. The show has really gone back and forth as to whether or not we’re supposed to regard Kurt’s pursuit of Finn as predatory. In the first season, I don’t think we were supposed to regard it as any more threatening than Rachel’s pursuit of Finn–boundary-crossing and semi-obsessive, yes, but in a way that’s funny and somewhat acceptable in the Glee world. There were definitely threads of “predatory gay converting the straight guy” woven in there (Kurt’s comments about how Finn’s real problem is girls, and he should just give them up, for example), but Pierce’s characterization that Kurt hit on Finn, particularly to the extent of sexually harassing him, is pretty blatantly false. Kurt flirted with Finn and made big cow eyes at him, but never hit on him even once, let alone in a way that suggests sexual harassment.

    I think the way Pierce has completely misremembered/misinterpreted Kurt’s actions speaks to the way that the (mostly straight) audience in general has. The decision to revisit the topic in Duets and chastise Kurt for his actions was apparently a reaction to audience complaints that Finn and Kurt were equally in the wrong, Finn had a point and was completely right to feel uncomfortable, Kurt’s actions weren’t addressed, Kurt’s crush was creepy, etc. Finn’s comment that if he was a girl, he could take out a restraining order against Kurt (which I think the audience mostly agrees with) rings pretty false to me, because if Finn was a girl Kurt’s machinations would be viewed as they were intended–as romantic comedy gambits, the same way that most people view Rachel’s pursuit of Finn. I’ve seen viewers claim that not only did Kurt get Burt and Carole together, but he also somehow “arranged” for himself and Finn to share not only a house, but a room (because “a house that big must have more bedrooms than that”, despite the show mentioning at least twice that it was a space issue–they either had to build an addition or get a new house for Finn to have his own room). The show focusing so much on Kurt’s glee over getting to decorate a room with Finn somehow translated in audience member’s heads into him manipulating two full-grown adults into changing their entire living situation. Finn’s claims that Kurt would spy on him getting dressed seem to be largely regarded as valid despite being unsupported, while I’ve never seen anyone express discomfort with the scene in Laringytis where Finn spies on Rachel getting dressed in sillhoutte through the hospital’s privacy curtain.

    IMO, Glee made a mistake in the first place by choosing to address Finn’s gay slurs instead of (or in the best of all possible worlds, in addition to) his gay panic. Him saying that he changed clothes in the shower because he was sure Kurt was going to peek at him getting dressed was a much more disturbing to me than his use of the word “faggy”, and it became even more disturbing when the show reinforced it in Duets. The fact that Burt retroactively justifyed Finn’s use of the word “fag” by saying that “guys just don’t know how to deal with unwanted advances” put in the final nail in the coffin of that entire storyline for me, because if Finn’s reaction to Kurt’s crush is justified, what other reactions to a gay man’s crush on a straight man would also be acceptable?

  6. That’s a really good point about them not addressing Finn’s gay panic. I hadn’t thought of it that way before, and it’s certainly valid. Mind you, Kurt did once go talk to Sam while he was showering, which was weird. But he hadn’t ever pursued Finn in that way.

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