This isn’t really related to the show so much as some things we’ve seen recently related to two of the actors in Glee. Also, it’s a novel, and nobody is going to read it. But I needed to write it, so here it is.
Recently, it was said that a fan forcibly kissed Darren Criss at a Glee Live! show, as the Warblers made their way up to the stage to sing Silly Love Songs. Reaction was mixed from outrage to apathy and even some “I would have tried too”.
And we had the pleasure of watching a 30 minute interview with the amazing Chris Colfer whoisprobablygoingtotakeovertheworld on Piers Morgan Tonight. The pleasure for me ended when he described being “semi-mobbed” at a movie theatre and having to go to his “happy place” and call the police. The crowd was so aggressive with him that he woke the next day covered in bruises. He has previously described being locked in a stopped elevator with some young women for about 20 minutes. He’s also recounted an incident where a father swore at him as he fled a theatre because he wouldn’t stop and take a picture with his daughter. Chris was leaving quickly for security reasons.
Now I’ve pretty massive social boundaries, so all these scenarios make me want to die. In my line of work, people sometimes take my arm (for no good reason) and without asking any kind of permission and it totally freaks me out. So I have my own issues here, and I’ll own them.
It seems like famous people have an awful lot to contend with. No amount of money in the world can make you feel safe, out on your own, if everybody wants a piece of you. In fact, if a fan can get close enough to forcibly kiss an actor on the lips at a Glee Live! show where there’s massive security, it seems like there aren’t very many safe places.
What immediately springs to mind when I hear those stories is “who wants to interact so badly with someone who doesn’t want that themselves?”
For me, the rush of talking to someone amazing is that they want to talk to me. That doesn’t apply if I have to hold them there so hard they get bruises. The rush of kissing someone is, again, knowing they want to kiss me (or having some kind of reasonable hope). That’s why I don’t pay for VIP tickets which include meet-and-greets, because paying to meet someone (compared to paying to see someone perform) just feels a little creepy. I’ll admit to rushing back to my office and working harder on a screenplay or novel, because that way, maybe I’ll meet amazing people like Chris Colfer (someday!) and they will want to talk to me. Also, I might have something more interesting to say than, “Ohmygodyou’reChrisColferOhmygod,” but I doubt it. I have no alternative scenario for kissing Darren Criss because 1. I have no desire to and 2. that’s crossing a line I never thought I’d have to explain to a fan of Glee.
People talk a lot about intentions, and how intentions or other circumstances change how we evaluate an action. Like people who want to defend Karofsky will say that he kissed Kurt, not to hurt or intimidate him, but because he really was infatuated with him. And, really, what’s the difference between that kiss and the one that Blaine gave Kurt, except that Kurt returned the second, and how could the kisser know that ahead of time? Somewhere in that spectrum of situations, there’s a fine line, but neither of these scenarios straddle it.
Intentions, mitigating circumstances are all useful in a legal way. We use these considerations to change the kind of sentence a person may receive, or to evaluate whether or not they are a continued threat to society. In no way do we dare to imply that this information changes what the victim experienced. It doesn’t matter what your intention is, if you kill someone, they are dead. If you rape someone, but you think God told you to do it, they’ve still been raped. And if you kiss someone because you think that their body is public property and it won’t affect them, it doesn’t change the fact that they feel more vulnerable now.
Kissing someone you’ve systematically physically abused, intimidated and threatened to kill is an awful thing to do, even if you’re doing it because you have a crush on them. Because having a crush on someone does not give one permission to abuse and mistreat them. Kissing someone against their will can be devastating to a person’s self-confidence and self-esteem. It can make them feel like they don’t have the power to consent or refuse. It can make someone who’s really pretty awesome about his fans, a little less awesome (and for a damn good reason.)
I’ve been groped and kissed by people I don’t know who felt they were somehow entitled to do so. And let me tell you, it never feels good. It feels like shit. It feels like that person thought you were worthless and unimportant enough that your consent is not required. And the response I’ve gotten? That it’s a compliment. I should feel flattered that a guy thought my rack was awesome enough to play with or that someone thought I was hot enough to kiss. Except that it never feels like a compliment and it never feels like I’m hot. It feels like I’m powerless.
So, come on, people, let’s develop some boundaries. Let’s make the Glee fandom the best fandom. The one where, in twenty years, the stars will look back and say “The Glee fans were amazing, the best.” and not, “I was so glad when Glee ended, so I could stop being afraid all the freaking time.”