Mind Blown: Blaine’s collar

So there this post on Digron’s Tumblr that shows every outfit Blaine wore in Dance With Somebody and there isn’t a bowtie to be seen. MerryMethods then reblogs it, adding this commentary:

PEOPLE WHO JUMPED ON BOARD WITH THE WHOLE “BOWTIES ARE KLAINE’S EQUIVALENT OF A COLLAR” HEADCANON.

BLAINE KNEW SOME SHIT WAS UP WHEN KURT STOPPED PUTTING HIS BOWTIE ON HIM LOL AND NOW I DIE.

And then LettersfromTitan points out that the collar is the only part of the It’s Not Right But It’s Okay video that wasn’t really faithful to the original. They left it out.

And as she says, it’ll take a return of the bowties and Klaine domestic bliss for this theory to prove itself. But if I can jump the gun a little and say — if this does pan out as a theory — why are they doing this? I mean, I have to go with these cues being symbolic, because these are 16/18 year old kids. So my question is — why is this how they show character with Kurt and Blaine, and with nobody else (as far as I’ve noticed).

About these ads

19 thoughts on “Mind Blown: Blaine’s collar

  1. Have you seen Kurt’s scarf in the last Klaine-locker-scene? (bottom picture in your post) It looks like a (dog)collar to me. Have they switched it up? Is this Kurt’s way to show his true commitment to Blaine?

  2. Also, look as much as I’m like, “ADORABLE BABY KINKSTERS!” about Klaine kind of all the time, I think we do have to remember that Blaine doesn’t always wear bowties even when he’s wearing them often, and that we do have to consider whether they are the result of Kurt being all, “this is a good look for you” (or otherwise directly making that happen) or if they’ve always been something Blaine self-selects that while about Kurt on some level is originating in Blaine’s brain.

    Also, the one Blaine still we have from “Choke” at this point has no bowtie, btw, as someone helpful pointed out to me on Tumblr this morning.

    I don’t have the hours in the day to go through every Blaine outfit to figure this out, but I really, really feel like I need to now. Because this is the best weird thing since the red hanky.

  3. You have no idea how much I want to have a good reason to do a statistical analysis on how often Blaine wears bow ties. You know, for science.

    And yes, it’s the fact that it’s reminding me of the red hanky that I decided to bring it over here. You have no idea how popular that red hanky post is.

    Informally, and off the top of my head, Blaine didn’t wear a bow tie all the way through Saturday Night Glee-ver either. He was at the beginning — definitely. And he didn’t in several of the costumes — it would be interesting if it disappeared in the middle of that show that was all about dreams, where he was nowhere near Kurt at all.

  4. Re: why are Kurt and Blaine unique in the storytelling-through-clothes….

    There’s been some interesting stuff written about Emma’s costuming too. The girls’ jewelry also serves a similar function, for the characters that wear it, although it can be harder for (me, at least,) to pick out on the screen. Tracking when Santana wore pants for the last half of S2 was fun. It’s a VERY visual show.

    I think Kurt’s clothes serve a similar role to him as Emma’s pamphlets do to her. They have communicative intent. That’s a characterization piece that *is* unique to Kurt (and maaaaybe Tina?) so it makes sense that his clothes, and by extension Blaine’s (ala Will making pamphlets for Emma or giving her letters,) would take a technique the show uses elsewhere and exaggerate it.

    I enjoy this a lot.

    (Also I don’t know where to put this, but Brittany doesn’t wear mascara, which makes a lot of sense for someone who needs to hold crayons or modified pens in order to write.)

  5. (Longtime lurker, first time poster here. Um, hi guys.)

    Just a half-baked thought:
    This episode made me start wondering if there are two Blaine personalities.
    Performer!Blaine wears ties and bow ties and seems pretty much in control of himself.
    Emotional!Blaine doesn’t wear a collar, and he is much more prone to feeling insecure, lashing out, and making mistakes. (See: The First Time, Big Brother, Dance with Somebody, etc. In Blame it on the Alcohol, he even draws attention to the fact that he is not wearing his Performer!persona.)

    Has anyone been keeping track of when Blaine *doesn’t* have something tied around his neck?

  6. You know, I probably should have been clearer — I was more referring to “storytelling through kink” rather than though clothes, because I do agree there are other characters who have wardrobe-related development.

    Does Britt really not wear mascara? As in, there’s no mascara on the actress, or as in it’s been said on the show? Because hell yeah, that does make sense.

  7. Two days left of holidays — a list a mile long of things I must accomplish. Could I accomplish them all tomorrow and then have Saturday to run my quantitative analysis of Blaine’s bow ties? Is it possible?

    And Hi reformed lurker! Thanks for commenting. Man you are all doing a great job of convincing me to spend a whole day on Blaine’s bow ties.

    Oh, and there’s a subtle thing happening here too: bow tie vs something tied around his neck — because at Dalton, it was a necktie, and Blaine wore a necktie in Dance With Somebody too. I’d have a hard time counting his Dalton attire as anything, because it’s a very standard private-school uniform.

  8. Sorry for misunderstanding.

    In that case, I think it’s just wardrobe having fun, and having fun with these two as opposed to others because Kurt’s clothes DO say more than the other characters.

    There’s no mascara on the actress.

  9. //LettersfromTitan points out that the collar is the only part of the It’s Not Right But It’s Okay video that wasn’t really faithful to the original. They left it out.//

    In the original video, Whitney also wore a half-glove, noticeable chains, and leather, all of which were elements not transferred to Blaine’s costume. I think the absence of a collar (and other leather accoutrements) on Blaine speaks more to popular imagery of powerful, attractive men as opposed to powerful, attractive women: Blaine’s dress was evocative of a businessman, Whitney’s dress was evocative of a dominatrix. I think it’s misleading to say that Glee’s rendition was faithful to the original in all ways except for the collar–it was faithful in all ways except for the *costume* as a whole, and I think the gender divide alone explains that.

    As for the absence of the bow ties in this episode, I think it’s reasonable to assume that the bow ties may reflect or are meant to evoke Blaine’s emotional state to a certain extent, although the practicalities of clothes being *clothes* are kind of going to supersede that being a fully coherent theme. I think what rparker715 says about the bow ties pointing towards Performer!Blaine rings pretty true, although I think that also isn’t fully realized–his first real New Directions song, “Last Friday Night”, was sans bow tie; he auditioned for West Side Story in a polo with no tie; he wore a bow tie for the last half of “Wanna Be Starting Something” but an open polo for the first half, etc. It is an interesting idea, though, particularly given the shift in New Directions’ (male) performance outfits since Blaine has joined and taken on a fairly prominent role–they went from neckties all through season one and season two, to bow ties for Sectionals and Regionals of season three, which is also the season where New Directions (at least the male members) have consistently won as performers.

    Bow ties are jaunty, kind of dorky, and evoke an air of confidence, so the decision to de-bow tie him in scenes where Blaine feels insecure or vulnerable would make sense to me (although, again, I don’t think it’s a fully-realized theme). He wears bow ties for the first half of “Big Brother”, for example, and then is bow tie-less from Cooper’s acting class on. The last scene where he wears a bow tie, during his dinner with Cooper, is the turning point from him being vaguely hopeful about being close with Cooper to him being angry at and hurt by Cooper, specifically because he thinks all Cooper wants to do is put Blaine down. It’s also been pointed out that for all of “I Kissed a Girl”, after Santana criticizes his bow ties, Blaine doesn’t wear them for the rest of the episode (although he keeps the hair gel, which Santana also criticizes). Blaine doesn’t wear a bow tie in “Hold On To Sixteen” when he’s venting to Kurt about Finn acting as though Blaine doesn’t know what he’s doing, and obviously the actual confrontation scenes with Finn were also bow tie-less (although on the practical level, it would look pretty silly to put a bow tie on top of a collar-less exercise shirt, so there’s that).

    I don’t really see anything suggesting that there are particular ties to his relationship with Kurt, though, let alone a suggestion of kink. In the instances I cited above where no bow tie seems to reflect Blaine’s insecurity/vulnerability/what have you, the source is outside of his relationship with Kurt. Moreover, many of the scenes that I think of as being particularly about the intimacy, closeness, and trust of Kurt and Blaine’s relationship in this season–the Roxy Music/bedroom scene in “The First Time”, the reconciliation/sex scenes in “The First Time”, Blaine watching Kurt’s speech in “Mash-Off”, Blaine helping Kurt with his application in “I Kissed a Girl”, the cut Christmas/box scene in “Extraordinary Merry Christmas”, Kurt holding Blaine’s hand as he’s injured in bed in “Michael”–have been conspicuously bow tie-free. In a lot of those, Blaine is dressed down (in t-shirts, exercise clothes, or pajamas) in ways that seem to evoke physical and emotional vulnerability or openness; in others, he’s relatively dressed down (in unbuttoned polos) but still put together for school; in others, he’s relatively dressed up (in a necktie, in the Christmas/box scene) for school.

    It seems fairly consistent to me that in general, a dressed-down Blaine is a more emotionally open Blaine, but in both positive and negative ways, which is where I disagree with rparker and with you. The theory that bow tie-less Blaine is a “collarless” Blaine who acts out and makes mistakes doesn’t really ring true–after all, in “The First Time”, in the portion of the episode where Blaine actually makes a mistake, getting drunk and then pushing Kurt’s limits sexually, he’s wearing a bow tie. The theory that a bow tie-less Blaine is a Kurt-less Blaine also doesn’t seem to ring true, given how many scenes of positive connection with Kurt are also bow tie-less. Like I said, I don’t think there’s going to be a truly Unifying Theory of Blaine’s Bow Ties, because of the practicalities of costumes as clothing as well as symbols, but the bow tie = Kurt’s collar idea seems particularly rootless to me. The hanky code theory also seems fairly rootless to me, though, given the placement of most of said hankies (vest pocket rather than back pants pocket) and their minimal ties to significant Kurt/Blaine scenes, so what seems to be a base idea for this theory (that Kurt’s clothing was already signifying a sexual dynamic with Blaine, so perhaps Blaine’s clothing is doing so as well) is already absent from my perspective on this idea.

  10. //we do have to consider whether they are the result of Kurt being all, “this is a good look for you” (or otherwise directly making that happen) or if they’ve always been something Blaine self-selects that while about Kurt on some level is originating in Blaine’s brain.//

    The bow tie on baby!Blaine during the flashback scene in “Big Brother” would seem to point to it as Blaine’s preference, rather than something Kurt has pointed him to.

  11. I applaud your thorough detective work! You’re much more eloquent than I would have been. I agree that “a bow tie-less Blaine is an emotional Blaine” is not a fully-realized theme (does Glee have many of those?), but it’s something I plan to keep an eye out for in the future.

    //The theory that bow tie-less Blaine is a “collarless” Blaine who acts out and makes mistakes doesn’t really ring true–after all, in “The First Time”, in the portion of the episode where Blaine actually makes a mistake, getting drunk and then pushing Kurt’s limits sexually, he’s wearing a bow tie.//

    If I remember right, he wore the bow tie to Scandals, but it was undone around his neck by the time he was on the dance floor with Sebastian. Maybe he had every intention of being in control, but lost it sometime around the first half of his beer? (Again, it’s possible that I’m looking for deep meaning where the practical truth is that he just got too warm while dancing.)

    I can’t help but wonder: if he ever transferred back to Dalton, would he go back to acting like the confident, mentor-like person he appeared to be near the middle of season 2?

    I think need to re-watch some of these episodes (and try to focus on someone other than Kurt). For purely research purposes, of course.

  12. I apologize for the somewhat off-topic distraction! But I still look forward to your bow tie analysis, so maybe I’m not that sorry. : )

  13. //In the original video, Whitney also wore a half-glove, noticeable chains, and leather, all of which were elements not transferred to Blaine’s costume. I think the absence of a collar (and other leather accoutrements) on Blaine speaks more to popular imagery of powerful, attractive men as opposed to powerful, attractive women: Blaine’s dress was evocative of a businessman, Whitney’s dress was evocative of a dominatrix.//

    I agree, actually, that Blaine’s outfit was strongly masculine, which — actually — is kind of bizarre for Blaine. I mean, it’s not like he wears girls’ clothing, but what he does wear is usually marked by some kind of queer aesthetic that doesn’t exist in the It’s Not Right performance.

    I think a lot of people were very distracted by just how handsome he looked in that performance, but I was left wondering why his presentation was changed in such an almost sterile way. Maybe that’s why I’m looking for some meaning in it?

    Because if we’re talking about his performance being “How Blaine wishes he could experience betrayal” then we’re seeing him wanting to be very traditionally masculine — which is interesting along with the passing storyline that’s only really made it to the foreground recently.

  14. I read the performance as a combination of Blaine havign a dreamsequence–similar to Mercedes in Acafellas–and Kurt’s worst nightmare, actually. So I think it has more to do with how Kurt is seeing Blaine–and that makes me think about the “alpha gay” comment.

    I don’t think removing chains and leather from a scene along with the collar really argues AGAINST the idea that bowties might serve a collar-like function. If anything, I’d say it’s an argument for.

  15. //I can’t help but wonder: if he ever transferred back to Dalton, would he go back to acting like the confident, mentor-like person he appeared to be near the middle of season 2?//

    Hmm. See, I think we’re looking at it from two different points of view–in my perspective, Blaine’s clothing evokes who he is and how he’s feeling; from your perspective, it seems you’re saying that Blaine’s clothing *affects* who he is and how he’s feeling. Which is a valid way to look at it, I think–certainly the way we’re dressed can affect the way we feel. I’ve worked in costuming, though–for theater, not TV, and not in a professional capacity–so “clothing indicates character” is the way I tend to look at it, and from the interviews I’ve read with Glee’s costumer, Lou, it seems to be the way she works as well.

    IMO the differing circumstances of Dalton vs. McKinley would have more to do with Blaine’s shift in attitude from one school to another than the uniform itself would. Certainly the uniform is one *indicator* of the differences between New Directions and the Warblers–the Warblers are explicitly impersonal, they sing songs decided by the council instead of whatever somebody is feeling at the moment, they have explicit hierarchies but put things to a vote and hold auditions to guarantee fairness and that voices are being heard, they have explicit codes and rules of behavior, they work as a *group*. McKinley, on the other hand, is ruled by emotion and individuality–the songs they sing are indicators of what they’re feeling, the kids have to fight amongst each other for attention, and they function much more as individual singers rather than as a group.

    I think the fact that at Dalton, the Warblers look up to him and rely on him rather than forcing him to prove himself, and the fact that there are explicit codes of behavior would have more to do with Blaine’s attitude change from one place to another. He also didn’t seem particularly close to any one Warbler, whereas at McKinley he has not only his boyfriend but also individual friends, none of which put him on a pedestal or expect a particular mode of behavior from him.

    //If I remember right, he wore the bow tie to Scandals, but it was undone around his neck by the time he was on the dance floor with Sebastian. Maybe he had every intention of being in control, but lost it sometime around the first half of his beer? (Again, it’s possible that I’m looking for deep meaning where the practical truth is that he just got too warm while dancing.)//

    You’re right–the bow tie was undone by the time he was dancing with Sebastian. I do think that the loose bow tie is a good visual indicator of Blaine being, you know, not together–he’s letting loose, and he’s kind of sloppy because he’s drunk. His outfit isn’t put together, and neither is Blaine. It’s the kind of visual indicator of drunkenness/letting loose that can’t really be done with many other accessories (although they did something similar in that scene with Kurt taking off his vest and carrying it, so “dance floors are hot” is also a reasonable hypothesis). Like I said, though, the other examples of Blaine being bow tie-less in that episode alone really preclude me from seeing Blaine with no bow tie as Blaine making mistakes, although I think there’s something to be said for a dressed-down Blaine indicating emotional openness.The costumers tend to do a similar thing with intimate Kurt and Burt scenes, where Kurt is generally in a simple sweater instead of elaborate or buttoned-up outfits, and the two intimate scenes at Blaine’s house where Blaine was dressed down in a t-shirt and sweater seem to serve that purpose as well.

  16. //I think a lot of people were very distracted by just how handsome he looked in that performance, but I was left wondering why his presentation was changed in such an almost sterile way. Maybe that’s why I’m looking for some meaning in it? //

    I think if you look at the other examples of Glee recreating music videos, his costume both fits into a pattern and doesn’t at the same time. The music video recreations tend to be very faithful in terms of costuming in ways that don’t necessarily indicate much about the individual character–Artie’s costume for “Scream”, for example, doesn’t necessarily indicate much about the way he likes to dress or the way he visualizes Mike dressing; Santana wore a pantsuit when she was recreating “Me Against the Music”, but when she actually put on a suit in her real life for another musical challenge, it had a skirt. Britney’s general aesthetic doesn’t really line up with that of Britney’s videos, but she wore a ton of her costumes. Rachel actually aspired to dress like Britney Spears when she recreated “Baby One More Time”, but she ultimately rejected that look in the long run.

    Blaine’s costume does kind of stand out because it’s really the only time Glee has translated a music video from female to male–they sort of did it with “Scream”, but since Janet’s outfits were mostly unisex, it was fairly easy to omit the bra scene and just put Mike in Michael’s outfit for that part of the video. They couldn’t be as faithful to the original video as they have been in other instances, because they’re not going to put Blaine in a dress. (When they did put Finn in Lady Gaga’s dress, it was in real life, not a fantasy sequence, and it served a specific purpose to the plot.) So, IMO, what they did was try to be faithful to the aesthetic and the impression that Whitney’s dress made–that she was confident, in control, and somewhat forbidding in her black leather. A streamlined black suit is, I think, a reasonable male counterpart to Whitney’s outfit. I have a hard time imagining what they could have put him in that would have both matched the aesthetic of the video, and also uniquely fit with Blaine’s personal style, given that his style is so reliant on patterns and accessories.

    If the fantasy portions of the performance *hadn’t* drawn from the visuals of Whitney’s video, I’d probably attribute more meaning to it in terms of how Blaine visualizes himself, or how Kurt visualizes a Blaine who doesn’t want or need him anymore, but as it is, given Glee’s history of being faithful to the videos, I really only see it as homage. I think Blaine was visualizing himself as a male Whitney, not as himself, in the same way that Santana was visualizing herself as Madonna or Artie was visualizing himself as Michael.

  17. Agreed that Blaine’s appearance is really masculine for the fantasy parts of the song–and not businesslike, either. He looks so slick–the fabric of that suit, and the shirt collar stood out to me; it didn’t seem like a typical collar. That said, his entire fantasy performance is also slick and very controlled. I’m thinking about the gestures he uses, lie the “shut the door behind you” bit. Very polished. His facial expressions, too, are so controlled. He’s angry, but almost amused in a way. And such contrast to the choir-room Blaine, who’s simply so upset, with no “moves” whatsoever, with an outfit (sweater vest) that doesn’t carry the confidence of the black suit.

  18. Pingback: 4.03: Makeover « Deconstructing Glee

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s