Glee’s Stereotypes

Kurt Hummel

Is Kurt a stereotype?

“Stereotypical” is a word I find popping up in a lot of negative conversations about Glee.

From Wikipedia (don’t look at me that way; this is not a term paper!):

stereotype is a popular belief about specific social groups or types of individuals. The concepts of “stereotype” and “prejudice” are often confused with many other different meanings. Stereotypes are standardized and simplified conceptions of groups based on some prior assumptions.

This word comes up especially in relation to Glee‘s gayest of gay characters, Kurt.

I have an issue with accusations of stereotyping with regards sexual orientation. I’m a lesbian with short hair and cats. Am I a stereotype? No, I’m a real person.

Kurt Hummel is not a real person. As Chris Colfer (the actor who plays Kurt) says, Kurt is “superior […] chic […] fierce […] fashionable”. And yes. That may sound like a stereotype.

But does it matter that I knew people in school who were like Kurt? Why are they branded “stereotypes”? Why should they be denied representation?

The only thing I can think of here is some phobias going on here. I think a lot of people object to Kurt’s character because of his gender identity and not because of his sexual orientation. I’ll write more about that later. There are some unfortunate undercurrents of misogyny and cissexism in the critiques of Kurt’s character. We can read that it’s bad to portray gay men as not masculine, and that feminine qualities are something to be ashamed of.

When I think of harmful stereotypes, I think of how the Irish are stereotyped as drunk and lazy, or how Jewish people are portrayed as miserly. Both of those are objectively bad qualities. Kurt doesn’t have any really objectively bad characteristics. He’s self-involved (honestly, they all are), but still a caring friend.

And yet, I’d concede the point if Kurt was the only gay character on the show. But even if we only count male gay characters, Glee has Kurt Hummel, Blaine Anderson, Dave Karofsky, Sandy Ryerson and Rachel Berry’s dads, who are mentioned often enough to be considered characters. The characters run the gamut from football jock, pervy choir teacher, to dreamboat prep school kid, to effeminate Kurt and Rachel’s dads who have a performance venue in their basement. I mean, sure, you can argue that they all sing and dance, but the show is a musical comedy after all.

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5 thoughts on “Glee’s Stereotypes

  1. Pingback: Kurt and Stereotypes « Deconstructing Glee

  2. Pingback: Transbigotry Part 1: Glee’s Kurt is not Cis « Deconstructing Glee

  3. I 100% agree with this. The word ‘stereotype’ is kind of a heavy thing, especially when people bust it out to say negative things about everyone on Glee – Kurt especially. I totally agree with all of this. Yes, Kurt is a feminine, high-voiced, fashionable diva, but the truth is that there are gay men just like that. People think of it as a ‘stereotype’, whereas I like to call it ‘representation’.
    I live in Hawaii, and people always think of Hawaii as the place where people live in grass huts and have no internet and there are tons of beaches and we all speak another language. All those things were true at one point in our history, so I don’t blame anyone for assuming that. BUT, there are definitely a lot of different types of people/places/resources in Hawaii besides just what everyone else thinks. I think the same is true with gay ‘stereotypes’ – yes, Kurt Hummels exist, but there are a lot of other facets to a gay man besides a feather boa. (If that.) I just think that stereotypes are code words ignorant people use to be negative about someone, especially if there’s really nothing wrong with the group you’re stereotyping against.

  4. Perhaps it would serve you to first understand the difference between a STEREOTYPE and an ARCHETYPE, before compromising your editorial integrity defending the indefensible.
    You may be happy being an icon of what xenophobic society expects lesbians to be, as a gay man, I’m sure as hell not.
    I’m not happy having a bowtied baldo telling ignorant people that I sould be their fucking hairdresser or Lady Caca spokesman.

  5. Who’s telling you that you have to be that? And if you wanted to be a hairdresser, why would that be a bad thing? Likewise, you could be a mechanic. But stories should be allowed to have both those characters.

    Editorial integrity? Dude, this is a Glee blog.

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