In addition to this, many small things irritate me. The main character, Rachel Berry, has two mysteriously absent but apparently doting gay dads who have never been seen in two whole seasons except in one photo in the pilot episode; the song choice frequently serves to pump up the iTunes album’s place on the charts rather than to further any particular scene, and most of the plots bring to mind a child ramming a square peg into a round hole over and over and over again with shiny-eyed determination.
Don’t even get me started on Kurt. I like the actor who plays him – Chris Colfer – I do, even if he lets the wardrobe department do some awful things to him that even Tyra Banks would be horrified at, but I can’t stand Kurt. As a character, he started out well – he came out as gay in a relatively positive way, he provided some excellent one-liners and he could be reliably counted upon for eye-rolling reaction shots during dramatic scenes. However, since Ryan Murphy, creator of Glee, has seen fit to turn Kurt into a mini-me, the character has become an insufferable, arrogant dillhole. It’s like, as they say on the forums, Kurt is regarded as a Special Sexual Snowflake and can do no wrong.
Another character who annoys me immensely is Finn, the star quarterback and the lead male on most of the Glee clubs songs. He swings back and forwards between the main character Rachel Berry, and the pregnant girl mentioned above, both of whom swoon over him incessantly like he’s the best thing to ever amble awkwardly down a hallway. His range of expressions encompass such delights as “Puzzled Now” and “Brooding Sadly”, along with old favourites like “Forced Happiness”. He only has about three, so in the space of an episode you’ll be able to see these drift aimlessly past on the conveyor belt of his face.
And let”s not forget poor Mercedes, who has had virtually no plot concerning her since the Tater Tot revolution in the cafeteria that one time. If there is one thing I learned from Glee, it was that fat people like to eat. Or was it that black people like potatoes, or that gay men like Marc Jacobs? Maybe it was that breaking out into song as you duet with your blink-and-you’ll-miss-it romantic partner for the week, whilst twirling around each other in the only dance move you apparently know how to do, is a totally normal occurrence? Wait, it must have been that a high school Spanish teacher who manages a Glee Club is able to use problems and issues from his own personal life appropriately to teach his kids valuable lessons about morals. Right? I don’t know. Glee tries to teach me a lot. But like a crazy old uncle, you can never be sure how much it had to drink before it sat down next to you., and therefore how much of the waffle they’re talking they really believe themselves.
Uh. Reactions? Just thought I’d post in case you were all interested.
Maybe their remote control doesn’t work and they’ve never been able to NOT watch something that they didn’t like?
Aside from the first line about Rachel’s dads “dating” (there’s a good argument for gay marriage right there, if two people who have apparently spent at least the last 18 years or so in a successful partnership are still considered “dating” without a license saying otherwise), my reaction is “fine.” Sure, there are better actors than Cory Montieth. Yep, Mercedes hasn’t had much storyline. Uh-huh, there sure is a lot of girlfriend-swapping in this show.
And I love Kurt like I love my own child (and I have a child, so that’s saying something) and I love Chris Colfer about the same, but he is a bit of perfection who lacks flail.
So it’s not so horribly off track: just mean-spirited and intentionally blind to the many other, great aspects of the show.
You know what I don’t like about Glee?
– Nobody ever has a birthday, so I don’t know how old they are. Also, I’d like to help them celebrate their birthday. I would totally go all FaceBook “Happy Birthday, Finn!!!” I do it for Harry Potter and Severus Snape, so my friends wouldn’t be shocked.
– I want to see more Karofsky, and I want to hear him sing. I know he’s not a popular character on this site, and I’m not arguing for Kurtofsky sex scenes in the Season 3 opener, I’m just saying that Max Adler is a hot commodity they’re not exploring enough.
– I want to see Kurt and Blaine with their shirts off. It’s only fair. I don’t care if we see them shirtless together or in separate scenes (actually, I’d prefer separate scenes because I’m squicked about Klaine), but if I have to look at Finn, Mike, Sam, etc., shirtless, I want to see the rest of them. They’re two of the sexiest men on the planet according to AfterElton: treat ’em with respect! Off with their shirts!
There are plenty of people who don’t like Glee (my sister’s family, in spite of the fact that they claim to love me). I think that’s within their rights. But the arguments above aren’t very interesting or insightful.
And what the heck is a “dillhole?”
Yeah, hadn’t had my coffee yet and now see that reads “doting” dads, not “dating” dads… So strike that.
Ok,well as far as the birthdays thing is concerned, the characters have been backwards aging since we met them, so that would be why. I mean, there’s a thing in the first season where Kurt has a car and got it for his sweet sixteen. Except that in season 2, they attend the junior prom (I’m assuming 16 is standard age for a junior). Also, Chris Colfer has said that Kurt is the youngest character.
Hey, hey, I’m not all about the Karofsky hate. I’m about the Kurtofsky hate. I would love to see more done with Karofsky. I had a wee rant on Twitter (or here? can’t remember) about Ian Brennan saying they’d tied up the Karofsky storyline nicely. I was like, oh hell to the no you didn’t. I’m all for more Karofsky. I have to say, I quite like the Santanofsky thing they have going. They are such perfect foils for each other. She’s confident and, in her own way, knows she’s going to come out, deal with it, and come out the other side just fine. Karofsky is still terrified. I can actually see Santana just coming out one day on a whim, because she’s pissed off or something, because her struggle isn’t really internal anymore. But Karofsky has so much more to work through.
Also as far as age is concerned, these are the characters I do not want to see in McKinley in Season 4: Finn, Puck, Karofsky. I’m sorry dudes, but you guys are really pushing that whole suspension of disbelief thing. Cory Monteith and Mark Salling are only 4 years younger than Matt Morrison (although they look a lot younger — I think MM looks old for his age — and his character is older than the actor). I’m dying to see if they retcon Kurt and Rachel into juniors again next season.
As for their shirts off… well, yeah, I guess we’ve seen a bunch of the other guys. I can see Blaine doing it, I guess, but I don’t know that Kurt would go topless under many circumstances.
As everyone here knows, my one dearest wish for Glee is GreaseMonkey!Kurt. It’s been implied, but I need to see the coveralls. And maybe an oil change. That’s it. Is that asking too much?
I think the fact that Kurt took a non-WMHS kid to Junior Prom indicates he HAS to be a Junior. Sam could conceivably be a Sophomore, invited by Junior girl(s). Finn, Karofsky, Puck all have to graduate this year, as well — Puck’s been having sex with grown women, so I’m going to hope that they don’t want us to think he was a Freshman when the show started, regardless of how old he actually is and looks…(not like his being a MILF-hunting Sophomore is much better)!
You and I need to have a very long ships discussion, girl… You can rationally explain Klaine to me and I’ll do my best to explain how the Kurt/Karofsky thing doesn’t have to be gross, even if it is… questionable. Certainly questionable, and hard to justify/defend, but it isn’t the “women love abusers” crap that shows up in the insane shipping wars online. I have a lot of thoughts on the subject, some as basic as Colfer and Adler have great chemistry (or maybe I should say “dynamic” since “chemistry” implies a certain level of romance or sexuality) onscreen; some more along the lines of “redemption is redemption” and there can be no half-measures in our acceptance of a 16/17yo boy (confused and in pain) who has made mistakes and learned from them and been genuinely remorseful. I’m really not invested in WHO Kurt ends up with (I love Kurt/Happiness and I also really like the quote “It’s all fun and games until someone gets Kurt” which implies the truth that we love Kurt so much that no one is going to seem good enough for our boy), but I do find the heat and struggle over the whole Kurtofsky thing really REALLY fascinating. (Let your readers light their torches and fire when ready!)
GreaseMonkey!Kurt would be a beautiful sight to behold. It would be lovely if someone’s car broke down and he was the only person who knew how to fix it… He would be SO DISGUSTED to get dirty, but roll his eyes and get to work. AND I just devolved into fanfiction…
I can’t rationally explain myself and my wife. It’s just one of those things. 🙂
The problem with ship wars is that ships aren’t rational. Because they’re about love (and chemistry) and all kinds of other irrational stuff.
I just think that Kurt ending up with his abuser (regardless of redemption — and I don’t think redemption is ever redemption, really, unless our actions lack consequences) makes Glee a very different kind of story.
Thanks for posting my blog! Unfortunately you have only posted the criticisms, and missed out the parts where I point out the good things about Glee, which doesn’t seem terribly fair to the reader.
My main issue with the show now is that while it started out as a rather dark and funny look at a group of (rather good looking) misfits in high school, it has turned into just another mediocre tv show.
As for the person who thought “doting” was “dating” – clearly they didn’t even check the blog or they would have realised I’M gay, and am rather in favour of gay marriage. However, no hard feelings.
The reason I posted the criticisms is because that’s kind of what I do here — complain! And it certainly sparked some of our ideas too!
lol yeah, I think she did admit that was a pre-coffee error!
“I just think that Kurt ending up with his abuser (regardless of redemption — and I don’t think redemption is ever redemption, really, unless our actions lack consequences) makes Glee a very different kind of story.”
You have nailed my problem with a Kurtofsky relationship*. I feel like sometimes we do these horrible things, and even if we are forgiven and find peace with ourselves some of the repercussions are that we’ve burned a few bridges. Whether or not this thing could have happened doesn’t matter anymore because the chance of this is gone, it’s your own fault, and you learn to accept that.
It kind of…turns Kurt into this object for me. He’s the reward for Karofsky being true to himself which I have this weird wiggly problem with. It’s the same feeling I have regarding Santana. I don’t want Santana to be good with herself so that she can date Brittney and run off into the sunset (if she does that’s fine too). I want Santana to be good with being a lesbian so that she can live her life, and not feel ashamed of this part of herself. Same with Karofsky. I want this kid to come out for himself. Not for a boyfriend. Not for a prize.
I feel like I’m explaining it wrong….mostly because a lot of GLB storylines (I have not seen enough T storyline to make this claim) that I encounter are about coming out so you can have someone, and it feels weird going against that.
*I feel like I should say that I don’t really care what people do in fandom. It would really only bother me if they hooked up in cannon,and I only have these feelings about Karofsky. If they out Sam next year or Mike or something than let the great gay Glee love triangle begin.*
P.S. Yeah I want GreaseMonkey!Kurt too.
I still don’t get the St. Kurt allegations, which is basically this person’s complaint. Kurt has been a lot less manipulative this season (understandably, since unlike Rachel’s manipulations, people interpreted his manipulations as predatory and creepy), and he’s been placed in the role of a victim, which automatically gives him moral superiority over the people victimizing him (which…yeah? The only way to solve this criticism, which isn’t invoked here but has been other places, is to make his victimization “justified” in some way, which, no. ). He’s also interacted less with the McKinley group, which gave him less opportunity to be a manipulative asshole in the usual McKinley way. Up until recently he didn’t have a boyfriend, so he couldn’t get involved in cheating drama like every other character. All of these are plot-related reasons why Kurt in general comes off as less of a jerk than some of the other characters–he couldn’t take over or manipulate the Warblers the way that, say, Mercedes could diva it up in Night of Neglect, or the way that Rachel could act like a jerk in Special Education.
But he’s been shown to be kind of a thoughtless friend (The Substitute), petty and judgmental (Blame it on the Alcohol), jealous of other people’s success (Original Songs and Born This Way), and competitive (always). He had to learn not to grab for the spotlight and how to blend into the crown in Special Education. He had to learn a Very Valuable Lesson about respecting other people’s religions in Grilled Cheesus (imo everyone else comes off like a complete asshole in that episode, but the end message was that Kurt was more in the wrong than they were). He had to learn once again not to project his feelings onto other people in Silly Love Songs. He had to learn about sexuality in Sexy (which makes the “he’s just a mini Ryan Murphy” accusation that gets repeated ad nauseum especially weird, because RM has talked about how when he was fifteen he was a fucking a man twice his age and dating popular jocks). There was also an entire episode where his future stepbrother and his father called him a predatory stalker. If the show doesn’t criticize Kurt enough for some people, I don’t really know what would be enough. If they think Kurt is perfect or that the show thinks he’s perfect, I don’t know what show they’re watching.
I do agree that the way Rachel’s parents are portrayed (doting enough that they have shrines to Rachel, built a stage in their basement for her, moved her therapist into the house after she got egged; and yet neglectful enough that they’re never at any performance) makes no sense, that Mercedes has been terribly used, and that the many lessons Glee tries to teach us all tend to be incoherent and poorly thought through, though.
I agree with you on the “Kurt as object” thing, especially because Kurt has said flat-out that he’s not attracted to Karofsky. Exactly would would Kurt be getting out of this relationship? What about it would be fulfilling or good for him? The focus as far as I’ve seen is always on how Karofsky deserves to be happy, but I don’t understand why Kurt needs to be a tool for Karofsky’s happiness rather than a person in his own right. Nobody “deserves” another person, and anybody who thinks Karofsky “deserves” Kurt because he eventually became a good person is basically saying that Karofksky’s original feelings of entitlement towards Kurt, his body, and his emotions were justified, and only his methods were flawed. Gross. (Note: I’m not saying Shanna is saying this. It’s just a justification that I’ve seen a lot from people who want Kurt/Karofsky to be canon, and it’s an especially scary sentiment to see professed so often.)
Lol missed a thought in my extremely wordy response: I also think people just don’t really know how to respond to a femme gay man whose role is “sympathetic main character” rather than “background character who says bitchy one-liners.” Most people are used to seeing femme gay men as bitchy comedy sidekick characters or minor characters who are tragic victims of gaybashing in a cop show, but not as main characters and not as nuanced human beings with both good and bad traits. The criticism of him tends to force him into one or the other of those boxes: he’s just a bitchy queen stereotype / he’s just a perfect angel Gary Stu victim. I’ve actually (hilariously) seen comments calling him a bitchy queen stereotype right above comments calling him a perfect angel, with nobody seeming to notice the cognitive dissonance.
Hi there! I’m the pre-caffeinated person who read doting as “dating” (damned italics). I am glad we are both supporters of gay marriage: another great reason to NOT be nasty to one another, right? And no, I didn’t go back and read original blog from which this post was excerpted, but as my comments suggest, I didn’t really find anything outrageous about what was quoted, except that the tone was mean-spirited for my taste.
However, DG very graciously put a link up for anyone who found what you wrote provocative and wanted to investigate further: I think that’s pretty fair.
I guess my argument would be that people who see Kurtofsky as a possibility are working under the assumption that Kurt may find something enticing about Dave DOWN THE LINE — a lot of the Kurtofsky Pirates find Max Adler pretty smokin’ hot, and have a hard time believing that Kurt could find NOTHING attractive about the boy. Of course, Dave Karofsky is not smokin’ hot; he’s just a hot mess (as of now). But because these viewers respond to Max Adler, who seems a genuinely sweet guy, I think they are projecting these feelings onto the Kurt/Dave relationship. And crossing their fingers.
But I would also suggest that the anti-Kurtofsky contingent seems to find it INCONCEIVABLE that Kurt would ever find himself interested in Karofsky — it’s not that Kurt’s a prize or an object, or even that he would be the reason Dave comes out of the closet, but that the writers could craft the third season in such a way that Dave captures Kurt’s interest, possibly more. I mean, Kurt hasn’t even heard Dave SING… We know so little about Dave himself, I only suggest that the writers — if they so choose — could go anywhere they want with him, and some of those places might be of interest…
Kate, you’ve mentioned before that Kurt has said that he does not find Karofsky attractive, as though that were definitive: but literature and TV/film are full of this same trope, where one person is initially repulsed by another and then — in spite of themselves — find they are drawn in and perhaps even find romantic love or sexual desire where once there was only disgust. Darcy & Miss Bennett? Benedick and Beatrice? Rhett and Scarlett? Mr. Thornton and Margaret Hale? Sam and Diane…
I’m not saying Kurtofsky will or should happen, I’m just putting it out there that it is not so inconceivable to me, in the grand scheme of things. And that people who are fantasizing about this might have a good reason for feeling like things are set up for a romantic turn of events. For myself, I’m not even sure Dave is attracted to Kurt in the first place…
Again, I’m not a shipper, per se, and my interest here is mainly in how very worked up people get over this, on both sides. I am trying to figure out what makes people have such visceral reactions. I also love a nice, juicy debate with clever people… Chris Colfer wasn’t the only kid in forensics!
And now I’ll stop playing devil’s advocate and go to bed. I’m going to New Jersey tomorrow to be in the crowd when they film the GLEE Live! Movie.
Shanna, my point was more that THUS FAR, there are no reasons for Kurt to be want to be with Karofsky, which makes people’s desire to “give” Kurt to Karofsky pretty disturbing. (I do agree that there’s no particular reason to think Karofsky wants to be with Kurt, either–they barely know each other, and that kiss had so many underlying issues that actual “attraction” is up in the air. But some people perceive Karofsky as wanting Kurt, and so they want him to have him.)
They could conceivably write reasons for any two characters on the show to want to date each other–hell, Schue could have a sexuality crisis and fall in love with Puck, if they wanted it to happen. It’s an oddly circular argument to make for why two characters could conceivably be together–they could be together because the writers could write them as being together. Is there something in Karofsky’s characterization thus far that you/people who ship it think would be attractive to or good for Kurt? (And vice versa, I suppose.) I don’t, because imo thus far there isn’t a lot of character there. All we know about him is he’s a jock, generally a good student, he enjoys singing and dancing somewhat, his status is important to him, he’s conflicted about his sexuality, he acted abusively towards others and is now regretful because of it. That’s about it. And yes, of course, they could write him as a character who could be a good counterpart to to Kurt, but we’re back to the circular argument thing again.
There’s kind of a difference between eventually getting together with someone who was once rude to you at a party, and getting together with someone who physically abused you. Their conflict wasn’t a funny comedy of manners where people of equal or similar power banter with each other verbally, it was an abuse storyline where we actually saw the abuse take place. “He slammed her against a wall and called her a slur” isn’t actually the setup for the trope you gave examples of. (That trope is much more Pamela marrying Mr. B in the Richardson novel.) Given the way they’ve treated Karofsky’s actions thus far, yeah, it could conceivably happen–it’s Glee. But I doubt they could make it happen in a way that wouldn’t be disturbing to me and many others, particularly if the sexual harassment continues to be unaddressed, and particularly if therapy continues to play no part in Karofsky’s redemption arc.
Shanna, I get what you’re saying. You’re right. Max Adler is very attractive guy who does a great job on the show, who is also (from what I’ve seen) sweet and intelligent during interviews. If it were Max Adler being shipped with Kurt with I’d have no problem.
Still, if anything I think this might actually make me more irritated with the idea of this pairing because it feels like a big part of people wanting to ship him with Kurt is that he’s attractive, and that’s all that it comes down to. He’s pretty when he cries, has inner man pain, and so of course he should be shipped with Kurt, and that is…. such a fandom thing to do. If Max Adler wasn’t as attractive as he is would the conversation even be happening?
It’s pretty common knowledge that Chris Colfer was bullied in high school. If we found out one of them was a closeted and attractive jock who actually had feelings for him the whole time he was making his life hell I don’t think a lot of people would be thinking “Too bad you two never got the chance to hook up.”
Also, a lot of Kurt’s storyline this season was in reaction to the bullying a lot of GLBT teens were going through (have been going through..still are going through..sigh), and to show the tormentor and the tormented date because they’d look pretty together or because this is a popular trope…..something doesn’t sit right with me about that idea.
I know Glee is a crazy, fun, out-there show, and that Karofsky’s character has turned a corner, but if Kurt was going to find something romantic in Karofsky barely a year after having his life threatened, suffering physical and emotional attacks, and having to completely uproot his life as a result of him, I would find this really, really pushing the levels of disbelief for one of the only Glee story-lines to have any real weight during season two (The other being Santana’s in my personal opinion).
“For myself, I’m not even sure Dave is attracted to Kurt in the first place…”
I’ve wondered that too! He was checking out Sam……..=)
Silverkit, those are the most compelling anti-Kurtofsky arguments I’ve heard — like them. Particularly the “Too bad you two never got a chance to hook up” comment, which is brilliant. It’s probably what other people have been saying all along, but this hits home in a really clear and “of course!” kind of way. Again, I’m more interested in these arguments than in shipping Kurt with anyone. No one on the show deserves Kurt.
And Kate — you and I often don’t see eye to eye, but I’m full of respect for your well-reasoned responses — I know that you take a much stronger stance on Karofsky’s “abuse” of Kurt than I do. I’m not sure why that is: I’m certainly not a big fan of abuse, have been on the receiving end often enough to know better than that. I have just not been able to write Karofsky off as an irredeemable bad guy, and so the thought of an imaginary future relationship with Kurt doesn’t offend me and provoke my ire as it does so many others. Don’t get me wrong, though, as I find nothing sexy about his behavior and when you ask what Kurt would get out of a relationship with Karofsky I can only say that I don’t know yet. Nothing as of yet, really (other than that strange dance of “If I forgive and love the one who was my enemy, it will be as though the problem never existed in the first place” which is probably a lot uglier and more dangerous than it sounds). What I do feel, certainly, is a strong sense of being SET UP by the writers for something along these lines. Maybe it is a red herring. Maybe I’m just reading it wrong. But I feel it brewing and it makes me more curious than disgusted.
BUT that all being said, I think I had a breakthrough Blaine moment tonight at GLEE Live! Darren Criss was… well, he was extraordinary. And he has heretofore only ever bothered me. He owned the stage, impregnated half the audience with his awesome, and was so charismatic that I’m rethinking him entirely. This leaves the door open to possibly enjoying the Klaine relationship (which I’ve been unable to up until now). Now exhaustion takes over.
I don’t actually see Karofsky as an iredeemable bad guy. Like I said–my proposed future for him would be him getting into therapy and actually dealing with his issues, not him dying or going to prison or whatever. The way that Glee has played it, all of Karofsky’s issues are purely a matter of him being in the closet, but that doesn’t sit right with me. Most closeted gay men don’t terrorize out gay men simply because they themselves are closeted. Most closeted gay men don’t physically hurt others simply because they themselves are closeted. After Karofsky kissed Kurt, he switched from shoving him into lockers to staring at him, invading his personal space, and touching him in a sexualized way, and the way Adler played it, it looked like Karofsky enjoyed it. Again—enjoying the sexual fear of others and the power that you have over them physically is not simply a matter of being confused and in the closet. He threatened his life. It’s great that Karofsky feels bad about terrorizing Kurt now, but really. So much therapy, especially since we didn’t actually see whatever emotional journey took place between Born This Way, where he’s still acting like his actions were no big deal and like Kurt is the one who’s making things difficult for him, and Prom Queen, where he’s crying and saying he’s sorry.
If they hadn’t upped the ante with Karofsky threatening Kurt in a sexualized and threatening his life, I probably wouldn’t have a problem with a Kurt/Karofsky relationship. It’s Glee—they write punchlines about how funny it is that Puck used to throw Artie down the stairs. But Kurt and Karofsky hooking up would serve to either brush over the sexual aspects of Karofsky’s bullying even further, or else make it look like Karofsky was being rewarded for his feelings of entitlement to Kurt’s body and emotions. (And for me personally, after seeing the terror on Kurt’s face after the first time Karofsky kissed him, I’d never be able to watch a kissing scene between them.) If Karofsky starts going to a support group and starts season three with a boyfriend that he met there, I’d have no problems with that. It’s great that Karofsky is redeeming himself—I just don’t think the person he victimized should have to play any part in that.
I’m curious as to how you feel Kurt/Karofsky is being set up by the writers, especially since you agree with me that there’s nothing in particular that makes them a good match for each other so far, and since you’ve said that you didn’t find Karofsky’s behavior towards Kurt sexy. I don’t particularly think there is any setup, particularly since Glee’s writers are famously”fly by the seat of their pants” when it comes to writing and figuring out storylines (Quinn and Sam being broken up halfway into the season just because Ryan Murphy found it boring, for example), but if they were setting up a romantic storyline while writing a story about one person terrorizing another person to the point where he had to leave school, I would lose a lot of respect for them.
Feeling like the Kurt/Karofsky storyline is prelude to a possible romantic connection to them is a vibe — based on having watched a ton of TV/movies and read a lot of fiction (a lot of it trashy at times). It just feels like that sort of set up — the hate turned to understanding turned to “something more.” Things like the Prom episode: Karofsky’s “wait for me here” line after he apologizes/cries, Kurt’s interest in Dave’s continuing fake relationship with Santana — he keeps looking at Dave at the dance, they even meet each other’s gaze awkwardly at one point. And honestly, Karofsky isn’t a main character, but the amount of time they’ve put into his storyline and his character suggests to me that he has a larger role to play — they didn’t need to give him the screen time and the story interest that they have just to have him bully Kurt. They didn’t have to make him GAY to teach a lesson about bullying and acceptance or even regret and redemption. They spent a lot of time on Dave, and they made Dave gay for a reason; I believe it is likely — given the way these things work on the TV — that they made these choices so that he could have a significant role interacting with one of the main characters. These choices, in particular, lead me to believe they have more in store for Dave and his relationship to (if not with) Kurt. This is my gut reaction to what we’ve seen thus far.
I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that finding yourself attracted to someone has VERY LITTLE to do with whether or not they are good for you, or have a lot to offer you in life — particularly when we are talking about teenagers. I wouldn’t want Kurt, or anyone, to meet and become involved with their life partner when they are 16. But I do think that is a good age to explore what draws you to people, why that can be a good or a bad thing, and to learn what WILL make you happy, as an adult.
What would Finn have had to offer Kurt? Nothing that we know of, other than the fact that he is attractive, athletic, and boyish. That’s what Kurt knew about him when he was crushing on Finn. Finn obviously had nothing to offer Kurt, romantically, and that did not derail Kurt’s feelings or attraction. WE, the audience might have sensed that it was a disaster waiting to happen, but Kurt was just a kid who was in the throes of an infatuation.
And I will use the very suspect “drawn from my personal life” argument that it was very much my experience in high school that closeted guys DID hurt others and lash out at others due to their own confusion and rage. Absolutely. Not all of them, not MOST of them — but it happens. I don’t want to get into detail here, but it totally, absolutely happens. In my case, the things you describe (“Most closeted gay men don’t terrorize out gay men… don’t physically hurt others…enjoying the sexual fear of others and the power that you have over them physically is not simply a matter of being confused and in the closet.”) happened not to an out gay guy but to me, a very naive girl of about 15. And the person in question was not a monster or a sociopath; he was angry and confused and scared. He found himself, faced his actions, made amends, and is still quite wonderfully in my life, 25 years later.
Which might inform some of my feelings about David Karofsky.
And please don’t take my use of a personal anecdote as a sign that the subject is therefore closed or not subject to debate — I don’t bring it up as a way to shut you down or make the argument so personal that it cannot continue without you looking like a jerk and me looking pathetic. It’s just part of what goes into my reading of the Karofsky storyline, and that’s all I’m trying to say in bringing it into the conversation.
I really do enjoy going back and forth with you, Kate. I hope you do not feel I’m being antagonistic.
And if at any point DG feels like this is getting too far afield, PLEASE JUST LET ME KNOW. We can always take it to email.
“Feeling like the Kurt/Karofsky storyline is prelude to a possible romantic connection to them is a vibe — based on having watched a ton of TV/movies and read a lot of fiction (a lot of it trashy at times). It just feels like that sort of set up — the hate turned to understanding turned to “something more.”
Shanna, you’re right. That is a very famous story trope, and I can see where people would go in that direction with Kurt and Karofsky. The “I hated you when I first met you, but I’ve had a change of heart”. I was not surprised when this ship pairing showed up.
However, I feel like applying this trope to Kurt and Karofsky is a way for people to make Karofsky’s actions seem less scary. We are familiar with this story. If you’re in western culture it’s like hearing Cinderella. There is comfort to be found in the framework because we know all the plot points of it, and can tell you that not only is it going to have a happy ending, but we can tell you how it’s going to get there. A lot of the early scenes between Kurt and Karfosky are honest to god terrifying because of the physical violence (Karofsky body slamming Kurt against a locker bank. The threat on his life), but the whole thing gets yanked up a few notches when suddenly there’s a threat of sexual violence in the air (the kiss in the locker room, the cake topper scene, the wink in the cafeteria). No one likes feeling frightened or being witness to frightening things. These things happen in real life as well, and a lot of times people want to pretend they don’t because they make us feel so powerless.
People want to desperately do something with those moments that make them have a purpose in the larger context.
So suddenly it’s “Well, it’s okay that Karofsky made Kurt feel terrified and hurt. Now he’s going to make him feel good! It was all part of the story. It was one of the plot points. Karofsky hurts Kurt and hates him. Kurt hates Karofsky. Karofsky feels sorry. Kurt forgives him. Kurt forgives him to the point of entering into a romantic relationship. The person who loves you romantically is not (supposed) to be the person who would ever hurt you. Kurt was never in any real danger because that’s not the way the story goes.”
I feel like it cheapens Kurt’s story to shove these moments into this framework.
I’ve said before Kurt’s storyline was in part a reaction to the GLBT kids who are being horrifically bullied, and Glee did this wonderful job in showing just how dark being the target of bullying can be. Telling someone to ‘ignore it’ or ‘suck it up’ or “you know maybe they like you and that’s why they’re paying you so much attention” is just not only infuriating, but not going to cut it when there is someone out there who actively wants to hurt you because of who you are, and that is exactly what Karofsky does. You could almost say that part of reason they made Karofsky gay was to keep him from being too one note. Kurt is a beloved character both in fandom and outside of it. If we had no reason to sympathize with Karofsky than fandom would have yanked out the pitchforks and torches by now. By having Karofsky be gay Glee makes a statement not only about bullying, but about how damaging it is to live in a society where people are forced to closet themselves.
In case you’re curious, Ryan Murphy mentioned in an interview ( I linked the full text below) where he got the idea for Karofsky:
“The turn that character takes is based on someone in my life that I know who did that. Somebody who regularly and routinely beat up other gay kids and called them [slurs] and hit them, and the truth of the matter is, he came out of the closet in his 20s and had to get himself to a psychiatrist to deal with the hell he put so many people through because of his own issues.”
(Wow, that got long)
I think you give the Glee writers a lot more credit than I do. IMO they made Karofsky gay because it’s an easy, pat answer for why he bullies and why he specifically targeted Kurt—he hates in others what he lacks in himself, which in this case is self-acceptance and pride. This also lines up with the easy, pat anti-bullying speech that Holly Holiday gave the heckling club—bullies are just jealous. It also meant that they could avoid examining the societal basis of homophobia—Karofsky isn’t homophobic because he lives in a homophobic society, he’s homophobic because he’s self-hating. Instead of a long process of learning about and becoming comfortable with queer people, he just has to accept himself. Making Karofsky gay makes the bullying storyline easier to wrap up. Making Karofsky gay also allowed him to be a counterpoint to Santana’s story, and served as another point in what, according to Brittany in the finale, was the “theme of the season”: self-acceptance.
Also, I kind of disagree that they’ve devoted a lot of time to Karofsky’s character and storyline. Like I said in my previous comments, we don’t know very much about him at all—he serves entirely as a mechanism for Kurt and Santana’s storylines, and the way he acts in each episode seems to be based entirely on what needs to happen for their stories, no matter how much or how little emotional sense it makes in his own storyline. Even in the Superbowl episode, which was the one episode where he was featured independently of Santana or Kurt, he served to push Finn’s story forward and show how much he’s (apparently) grown as a leader and as someone who’s willing to stand up to peer pressure, in contrast to Karofsky.
The specific moments you’re citing also read really differently to me. When Karofsky says “wait for me here,” he was literally telling Kurt to wait for him after class so he could walk him to his next class. I’m not sure what’s at all romantic or even a setup to romance about that—the Bully Whips were a plot point. They walked Kurt from class to class to make sure no one bullied him. When he told Kurt to wait for him at the end of his apology speech, he was getting back to business—not baring his soul anymore, but putting his Bully Whips hat back on. During the dance, Kurt looks at Karofsky and Santana in response to Blaine saying that there’s someone for everyone, and then says “even if it’s a lie.” He’s bothered by Karofsky and Santana’s relationship for ideological reasons that are explicitly stated in the show—as Kurt said in Born This Way, even if he doesn’t believe in outing people, he doesn’t believe in being in the closet, either. Karofsky and Santana pretending to be in a relationship is an extreme form of being closeted—not just not being out, but openly pretending heterosexuality.
Again—I think the trope you’re talking about is really, really different than the storyline that has played out on the show. It’s not like there aren’t still romance novels about women falling in love with the pirates who kidnapped them or whatever, but in general, the “hate turns to understanding turns to ‘something more’” plot applies to relationships that are mututally antagonistic and primarily verbal, like, as you cited before, Elizabeth and Darcy. It’s a rare occasion when the hero/ine of a story falls in love with someone who has done something really, really terrible to them (like, say, threatening their life)—the only one that comes immediately to mind is the character in Watchmen who fell in love with her rapist, but even that was a background story, and the main romantic storyline was between two equals.
In Glee in particular, I haven’t seen this storyline playing out anywhere—Finn bullied Rachel before the show began, but we didn’t actually see that bullying play out outscreen and it’s never been a source of contention between them, so it’s impact is muted. Again, I think you give the writers more credit than I do. I don’t think they’re particularly interested in examining the intricacies of relationships or the nebulous, sometimes harmful, nature of our attractions. Kurt was attracted to Finn because, out of all the football players, he was the nicest to him—he let him take off his jacket before he was dumpstered, he helped him join the football team, he acted friendly towards Kurt once they were in Glee together, he let Kurt give him skincare tips. He seems to have stopped being attracted to Finn almost immediately after it became clear that Finn was latently homophobic and wasn’t willing to stand up for Kurt if it would hurt his own reputation—that is, when it became clear to him that Finn was bad for him.
Hi. This is a really interesting discussion. I don’t want Kurt to end up with Karofsky, and I have no reason to think that he will based on anything the writers have done, and I think it would be completely the wrong message.
That said, the scene that ends with Karofsky saying “Wait for me” I feel was about way more than literally wait for me after this next class. If *nothing* else, it was Karofsky admitting the importance he feels of Kurt’s willingness to do so given Karofsky’s past behavior. I think he said “Wait for me” for his own benefit, because he wanted Kurt to be willing to, not to keep Kurt safe (because he was already safe) or because he had that responsibility for the Bully Whips. It totally did not look like back to business to me. It looked emotional. Maybe not Karofsky being in love with Kurt, maybe just wanting forgiveness, but something.
I don’t know. I actually think that moment was about Karofsky finally committing to the Bully Whips for his own sake, not just because he was beng blackmailed by Santana, but because he finally regretted what he’d done to Kurt and genuinely wanted to keep him safe from others who might do what he had done. Given that the first “wait for me” was a command and the second one was a question, I guess I can see some poingnancy there, and certainly the desire to make sure that Kurt *was* willing to wait for him, but I do still think it was about the Bully Whips and about making sure Kurt was protected, and about finally recognizing Kurt as a person (thus the question versus the command, and him finally apologizing for what he’d done). Kurt might have believed that he was already safe and that people were indifferent, but he was wrong, and Karofsky knew he was wrong.
Kate, you mentioned “why [Karofsky] specifically targeted Kurt—he hates in others what he lacks in himself, which in this case is self-acceptance and pride.”
I don’t feel that’s why he targets Kurt, at all. I see it this way: he targets Kurt because Kurt typifies what scares Karofsky the most about himself (he’s ignorant enough to believe if he admits he’s gay, he will become LIKE Kurt because Kurt’s flavor of gay is the only flavor Karafsky knows; he’s not informed enough to realize that Gay!Dave is just Dave). Dave doesn’t want to be emasculated, perceived as anything less than a he-man “who carries a big stick”. That’s an important part of his self-image which he believes (falsely) that he will lose if he is gay. I don’t see ALL of his manly-manness as a way of hiding who he is (which is often where fanfiction takes it), but a genuine and valued part of himself that he fears will be negated by acceptance of his sexuality. I reject the “Dave’s jealous because Kurt is out and proud” idea; I think if Blaine comes to McKinley next season, THAT will be a massive education for Karofsky, to see that a gay guy doesn’t have to wear sparkly sweaters and sing like a girl. To see a gay guy with man!swagger — I dream of Blaine on the football team; I dream of Blaine in the showers after a hard practice… and I’m sure Kurt dreams of that, too! 😀
Also, I feel like there is NOTHING in Karofsky that has any interest in the Bully Whips — not even when he is feeling the most guilty and protective of Kurt. I think he sees the Bully Whips as the artificial concoction it is, and has no more investment in it than Santana does. Phrases like “Wait for me” have an emotional resonance that goes beyond the immediate context of a situation, and I think the writers of GLEE are clever and savvy enough to know that. They use that phrasing to either foreshadow something or as a red herring. I think there is nothing accidental or literal about that line. (Also, it is no accident he was on his way to Calculus — that’s a hint to us that he is not an idiot, for all of his stupidity.)
Silverkit, in terms of Kurtofsky shipping being “a way for people to make Karofsky’s actions seem less scary” — I get where you are coming from, I really do. I think you’re giving most Kurtofsky shippers an easy out, honestly! For me, however, it has nothing to do with whether or not he was bad, brutish, and scary, and it has nothing to do with him having any rights to Kurt or Kurt’s body, or “deserving Kurt” if he becomes a better person. I would never give Kurt away as a prize; I have really, probably inappropriately strong feelings of maternal love and devotion for Kurt and honestly wouldn’t wish him any harm. I’d pretty much take a bullet for Kurt. But I would like to see these two boys sit down and have some open conversations — I long to see the PFLAG meetings! — and learn from one another. It would be interesting to watch Kurt gain the perspective of Dave, who would be coming out not as an Outlier, but as a part of the system that shuts down kids who are different… And if I find their scenes together charged with a lot of energy, well, that’s on me. And if I trust Karofsky, I may be disappointed in the end, but I’m okay with that, because I value experience over security…
Can I also say I sense a bit of bias in people’s assessment of Karafsky vs. Santana? Santana has acted in hurtful, cruel and sadistic ways and yet people seem SO READY to forgive her and even love her. Why would we ship Brittana? Santana broke up Artie and Brittany early in Season 1 with nasty whispers in the cafeteria, she treats everyone with disdain and makes racist comments (told Sam Rachel would try to “steal all his gold”). She initiated violent confrontations with Mercedes and Lauren when they basically moved in on her original beard, Puck. But there is no lack of love for Santana, nor lack of faith that she’s going to come through it as an awesome, empowered lesbian, nor a lack of conviction that she has something to offer Brittany, despite having manipulated and lied to her and refused to own up to her feelings in public. But it’s not like Santana threatened to kill anyone, right? But she didn’t MEAN it?
Just examine how much of the bad feelings for Karofsky are based on the fact of his being a man, big and therefore perceived as more threatening than a pretty little cheerleader, and the fact that he was picking on someone we feel so connected to and want to fiercely to protect. Just a thought…
I’m so totally proud of myself that I haven’t caved yet, even though no one agrees with me!
“But I would like to see these two boys sit down and have some open conversations — I long to see the PFLAG meetings! — and learn from one another.”
I don’t think the two of them need to avoid each other until the end of time. I personally couldn’t be friends with someone who bullied me the way Karofsky did Kurt, but if they played the friendship card I could be alright with that. I’m really only very against them being put together in any sort of romantic way.
“Just examine how much of the bad feelings for Karofsky are based on the fact of his being a man, big and therefore perceived as more threatening than a pretty little cheerleader.”
But that’s the thing. Karofsky was more of a threat. When he attacked Kurt he attacked someone who physically was in no way his match, and who was in a vulnerable spot in the McKinley High hierarchy. Karofsky knew he could get away with physically harming Kurt because half the school was already doing it, and he jumped on that bandwagon. He took pleasure out of Kurt’s terror. When Kurt fought back using his most powerful weapon, his words, it ending with Karofsky using his size and bulk to physically respond. First with a kiss (and had Karofsky not stopped moving in for a second kiss there is no way Kurt could have shoved him off), and later a threat of physical violence to kill him. All of the psychological terror was in response to the upped physical violence.
Santana is a BAD person to everyone around her (I kept yelling “Please stop crushing his soul!” every time she and Sam were together), but to be fair all of the New Directions kids are HORRIBLE to one another at one point in time. (Puck sleeps with his best friend’s girlfriend. Quinn makes Finn think he’s the father of her child. Rachel sends competition to a crack house. Tina and Mercedes learn to steal and run with it from April. Finn shouts gay slurs at Kurt. Kurt manipulates Finn to out Quinn as a preggers chick which gets her kicked out of her home. Arti makes Brittney feel horrible for having sex with him. Puck and Finn used to throw Kurt into dumpsters and slushie him. Puck used to dump Arti out of his wheelchair. Finn used to throw eggs at Rachel…the list goes on.(Comes to think of it are the only nice people in New Directions Sam and Mike?). So her brand of mean isn’t actually all that crazy on this show.
As far as Santana and Brittney go while I’m not sure if I want them together or not I wouldn’t have a problem with them the way I have a massive problem with Kurt and Karofsky. Santana hasn’t always been the best person to Brittney, but here’s the difference. Brittney is never helpless, terrified or made to feel like she is in danger around Santana. There’s never a ‘if you don’t have sex with me I’ll hurt you” scene. There’s no “do what I want or I’ll get you kicked off the Cheerios”. There’s no unbalanced power dynamic. They’re both attractive and popular people who have fallen from the positions atop the social pyramid together due to their choice to be in Glee.
Brittney is also not without her own brand of manipulation. When Santana crushes her dreams of singing together in Duets Brittney immediately throws down in her own manipulative way. She starts dating Arti as revenge. When she sees Santana in the hallway when she’s walking around with him, she signals that Santana won’t be touching her anytime soon. Brittney knows how Santana operates, and when Santana refuses to play ball with her (and this happens more than once: Duets, Santana being unable accept herself and go to prom, the t-shirt scene in Born This Way, flat out saying that just because Santana has feelings for her that she can’t just dump Arti because she hasn’t been sitting around waiting for Santana to realize how awesome she is…) she moves on.
What I guess I’m basically getting at is that Brittney has a backbone, and there’s no one (not Santana anyway) telling her that they’re going to break her if she shows it. Which is unfortunately what happens to Kurt. He flares up, and only moments later gets all the wind knocked out of him by Karofsky.
I agree with what you’re saying about the way that perception of masculinity and perception of queerness are entertwined, and have been presented as entertwined when it comes to the ways Karofsky has been shown to target others (his and Azimio’s masculinity/sexuality policing of Finn in Theatricality, for example, and the specifically effeminate slurs he throws at Kurt). Sexuality issues and gender issues are rarely extricable from each other. But for exactly that reason, I don’t think focusing entirely on masculinity is the right approach. Some of the things Karofsky has said to/about Kurt (I’m thinking specifically of “I don’t want you looking at my junk” in NBK and his suggestion that Kurt has a crush on him in Furt) have nothing to do wih effeminacy, but do have to do with sexuality (and particularly an aggressive, predatory, and thus masculinized sexuality).
I think Karofsky had an issue with Kurt in about equal amounts because he’s gay and because he’s effeminate, but given that all the guys in Glee are percieved as emasculated and effeminate because of their participation in show choir, I think his particular focus on Kurt has to do with the fact that he’s gay (and out and proud), not just that he’s effeminate. Does that make sense? My original statement lacked nuance, yeah, but on the show, it’s pretty clear that all the guys in Glee get shit for percieved femininity (Azimio in the Superbowl episode saying that he won’t join Glee because he doesn’t want to wear sequined ball gowns, for example), but Kurt gets shit because he’s percieved as feminine and because he’s gay. The two are entwined, but still somewhat distinct from each other.
I also think that, even if it’s not intentional on your part, statements like “a gay guy doesn’t have to wear sparkly sweaters and sing like a girl” encourage effemephobia. It’s kind of like when feminists say that not all feminists are hairy-legged dykes—it throws hairy-legged dykes under the bus so that feminists who aren’t hairy-legged dykes can seem less threatening. Fighting stereotyping in a community can easily lead to denigrating those who are seen as stereotypical. (I’d also like to point out that Blaine isn’t exactly a seething cauldron of butch masculinity himself—he reads Vogue and sings songs by female pop artists. Kurt himself wears about as many suits and bowties as he does sparkly sweaters. If Glee became about seperating butch queerness from femme queerness, I would be pretty disappointed in it.)
Again—I think you’re giving the writers way too much credit for forethought. They’re famously short-sighted when it comes to storylines (as in, they don’t seem to plan them out at all, and even those that are planned out will get dropped if they’re not immediately appealing, which is how the whole Finn/Quinn retread in the second half of the season happened) and famously fail at continuity, which is essentially what foreshadowing is all about. The full line, by the way, is “Remember, you’ll wait for me here, right?”, which does actually set it in a specific place and context (the place: exactly where they are standing, the context: he’d earlier said “wait for me here so I can walk you to lunch”). This is obviously an interpretive thing, but I’m just not seeing the emotional resonance, especially after rewatching the scene and seeing what the full line actually is—that “here” really makes a lot of difference as to whether he’s talking about a location or an emotional state of being. IMO he’s clearly talking about a location.
Regarding Karofsky vs. Santana, I don’t think it’s quite that simple. Possibly the fact that Karofsky is male and Santana is female has something to do with how threatening they’re perceived, but I think it has more to do with how their actions are shown to affect others and how they’re played by the show (as funny or as threatening). I actually think the more apt comparison here is Karofsky versus Puck—in Never Been Kissed, two things happen: Karofsky begins specifically bullying Kurt, and Puck becomes friends with Artie despite formerly bullying him. Artie even says something like, “If you’re going to throw me down the stairs again, can you do it in (some specific stairwell)? It’s less humiliating.” Throwing someone down a stairwell is, I’m going to say, worse than throwing someone against a locker. The difference between Karofsky’s bullying and Puck’s bullying is that a) we don’t actually see Puck throwing Artie down the stairs, while we do see Karofsky throwing Kurt into a locker, b) the two victims, Artie and Kurt, show very different reactions—Artie seems possibly kind of nervous, but Kurt seems hurt and terrified, and c) the show plays Puck’s bullying as funny and Karofsky’s bullying as scary and terrible. Santana’s actions also tend to get played for humor, rather than to induce suspense or fear, as do Sue’s (who we actually saw push someone down the stairs).
Santana is also plainly a villainous character in ways that have nothing to do with her sexuality. Santana does cruel things because “she’s a straight-up bitch”, and we’re not supposed to find the terrible things she does sympathetic. We can be sympathetic towards her struggles with her sexuality or her feelings for Brittany without forgiving her racism or her manipulation, because the two are largely distinct from each other. (And in the cases where they overlap, I can be sympathetic to her feelings for Brittany without finding her manipulating Brittany into sleeping with her forgiveable or sympathetic. It was wrong, and the show presented it as wrong, with no caveats.) Like Sue, she’s a villain character with occasional moments of vulnerability, not a woobie. We can love her without forgiving her because we’re not supposed to forgive her. (As for shipping, hmm. I like Brittany with Santana, but that’s mostly because I like the character Brittany is with Santana–she gets treated more like a teenager and less like a child in her scenes with Santana than she does in her scenes with anyone else, and I find childlike!Brittany really disturbing considering how hypersexual they’ve portrayed her as. If Santana dated somebody else, though, I wouldn’t have a problem with it.)
In Karofsky’s case, though, his emotional issues have been used to explain away (and to a certain extent forgive) his actions, before Karofsky himself actually asked forgiveness or showed regret—he only terrorized Kurt because he’s in so much pain! And I’m not talking about fan response here—the show itself has done this by having Kurt himself focus more on Karofsky’s pain than on the pain that Karofsky has caused him, and by suggesting that Karofsky’s issues can be easily solved by simply accepting himself. Like you said above, by striking out at Kurt, Karofsky was really striking out at what he fears in himself—which makes Karofsky the real victim. For people (like me) who don’t find that explanation satisfying, Karofsky requires more critical attention than the show gives him.
Santana hurts people because she likes hurting people—like she said in Prom Queen, she hates everybody. She feels superior to them, and she thinks it’s funny to mock and manipulate them because she sees other people as below her. Mocking and manipulating people makes her feel powerful, and she likes feeling powerful. I can believe that. I can’t believe that all of Karofsky’s actions are explained away by him being self-hating or because of inner pain—if that was true, he probably wouldn’t have looked like he was enjoying terrorizing Kurt. He wouldn’t have spent so much time enforcing his social status by hurting others and keeping other people down. I believe what the show tells me about Santana, but I don’t believe what the show tells me about Karofsky.
Kurt manipulates Finn to out Quinn as a preggers chick which gets her kicked out of her home.
Sorry to jump your thread, but whoa, really? Kurt told Finn to sing his feelings for Quinn so that her parents would know how Finn felt about her, and apparently helped him rehearse that particular song. I don’t think it was a deliberate attempt to get either of them in trouble, though–he seemed to think it would get Finn in good with Quinn’s parents as much as Finn did. It was stupidity, not malice, on both their parts.
He did manipulate Rachel into dressing up like Olivia Newton-John at the end of Grease because he knew it would scare Finn off, though.
Agh, yet another comment, sorry. Just to expand on what I found problematic about your “a gay guy doesn’t have to wear sparkly sweaters and sing like a girl” comment: you’re essentially saying that Karofsky isn’t really homophobic, he’s effemephobic, and your proposed solution for this is for him to have gay male role models who aren’t effeminate–which still doesn’t solve his effemephobia. You also characterized (or don’t seem to find it troubling that Karofsky characterizes) effeminacy as “less than” aggressive, violent masculinity (Dave doesn’t want to be emasculated, perceived as anything less than a he-man “who carries a big stick”) .
Again–I don’t think this is intentional on your part, but these attitudes do enforce effemephobia.
re: “I also think that, even if it’s not intentional on your part, statements like “a gay guy doesn’t have to wear sparkly sweaters and sing like a girl” encourage effemephobia”
Sorry, I was kind of speaking from inside Karofsky’s head there, not in my own voice…
Re: “[Karofsky] probably wouldn’t have looked like he was enjoying terrorizing Kurt.”
Here’s where I diverge from reality and go into my own head cannon, because I think that the writers jacked a couple of the scenes in a way that makes them inconsistent with the rest of the story. I mean, up until The Locker Room Scene, we had only really seen him be a jerk and do some shoving — not that that isn’t hideous, I’m just saying it’s not the same as what happened afterwards. (And then the kiss itself — though I know most of you perceive this differently — was not brutal or “violent” in and of itself (as in, aside from the consent issue); he didn’t slam Kurt against the locker, he didn’t grab him around the throat, he put his hands on Kurt’s face and kissed him in what I BELIEVE KAROFSKY THOUGHT was a straight-forward (no pun intended) kiss, not an attack. I know this opens up a whole other can of worms, and I’m interested in a discussion about that, too, though I know this is way beyond a “gray area” and will make this discussion seem like nothing…)
And in the confrontation with Blaine & Kurt on the stairs, he’s actually pretty understated (for Karofsky!) in his reaction. And then a switch gets flipped and he makes the “I will kill you” statement, does the filthy “hey homo” wink in the cafeteria, and then has the cake-topper scene, which is genuinely terrifying and brutal. This is the point where most of my “Karofsky is going to be awesome!” arguments kind of get murky, and so I choose to believe that it was something the writers did before they figured out where they were going (or because they had to get Kurt to Dalton fast and that was the most expedient way).
So Karofsky in those moments does seem to be truly and sexually sadistic — there is no shot of him from around the corner looking self-loathing or regretful, no glances to try to communicate
BUT!!! I do think that the writers have absolutely changed their mind since then on who Karofsky is — from the Superbowl episode on, he is an altogether different guy with a different set of issues. I think GLEE wants us to forget about those scenes around the FURT episode (the way they wanted us to forget Quinn deeply betrayed Finn or Finn had grown to love Rachel when he tossed her aside and went for Quinn, etc) and I can understand that you are not willing to just forget they happened, and why you do not believe the story they are now giving us about Karofsky (which I think will include some more Kurt next season). I am willing to forget about those scenes (or accept the less-than-convincing argument that it’s all because Karofsky was also in pain) because I think they were useful at the time to get Kurt to Dalton, but didn’t serve the whole story arc.
(This is why I like to talk/write these things through: my own thoughts on the subject get a lot clearer and I also begin to understand the thoughts of others a lot more.)
Yeah, I hadn’t perceived any malice in that act on Kurt’s part, either, though he did intentionally sabotage Rachel. (I had a friend in high school who was very much the Kurt to my Rachel in this way!)
And I’ll say again that I’m not shipping Kurtofsky — I have no interest in the two of them going out on a date, for instance, or Dave showing up at the door with flowers and having to deal with Burt… I guess part of me just feels that for teenagers, there is an undercurrent of sexual possibility in nearly every interaction (maybe this was just me!); I don’t think Kurt would run off under the bleachers with Karofsky, but do I think that if the two of them spend time together at school, at PFLAG meetings, and come to understand one another better, there is a chance of an awkward moment of sexual tension? Yes. I do believe that’s possible.
And re: “had Karofsky not stopped moving in for a second kiss there is no way Kurt could have shoved him off”
Ah, how I fear this conversation!!! I believe with all of my heart that there is NO WAY Karofsky would have forced a second kiss on Kurt in that locker room. I just don’t see the scene that way at all. Maybe it is my emotional need for benevolent interpretation? When he yells “get out of my face” he seems to me so clearly trying to avoid crying; his fist up in the air is all about defensiveness and keeping Kurt away from him. (I know this is not how Kurt sees the scene, I know that in that moment Kurt believes it is almost certain Karofsky will hit him, I am reading this from Karofsky’s perspective, as there are two totally different things happening simultaneously in this scene, each boy in his own terror); the whimper as Karofsky pulls away from the first kiss, the moment of hesitation when he looks at Kurt — I see nothing angry, nothing aggressive, in Karofsky’s face. He is open, he is exposed, confused, terrified, longing… The fact that he does immediately pull back and runs away from Kurt seems to me the only thing that could have happened — other than maybe he collapses onto the bench and starts weeping…
So we can get into this if you want to. Or not. It gets very personal for people very quickly, I’m afraid, which can make discussion difficult and unintentionally hurtful. But I don’t see Karofsky as a sex offender or a sexual predator. He’s a teenaged boy with some big issues in need of education and support and therapy.
Thank you. That’s actually one thing that really gets to me in discussions about this.
However, this is one place where I put myself back a looooong time and remember my own journey and how long it took me to be able to appreciate butch women as part of my community and not scary, or the people who made everyone else uncomfortable (which is pretty shocking, if you met me now).
The hardest part of Glee is that it’s about high school students. And high school students — far from being fully realised people — are only figuring SO much out. It’s entirely realistic that Karofsky would find Kurt’s demeanor frightening in a very real way. The great thing is, that if Karofsky was a real person, him knowing a kid like Kurt would mean that he would be way ahead of many of his counterparts who may not have experienced a confident kid like that, and by the time he’s out on the scene, he’ll see the Kurts of the world as part of his community, not a threat.
But for now, Kurt is most definitely a threat to him — for so, so many reasons. And while I can understand that, when I had trouble coping with butch identities, I wasn’t hurting people. I was dealing with my own issues, and probably said a few cringeworthy things, but I didn’t terrorise people.
I am not a Queer Studies scholar; I am not trying to present myself as an expert. I am writing from my gut and my heart and sometimes my head, and in all three of those places there is only a desire to embrace and celebrate diversity and equality. I might say things that are offputting, phrased awkwardly, or downright ignorant. I will freely accept any education that these discussions can give me, and hope that all that we write about in this forum can be understood and trusted as coming from a place of respect and common goals — and a really, really insane level of enthusiasm for GLEE! That being said:
I responded somewhere above that when I made the “sparkly sweaters” comment I was trying to explain what I saw as Karofsky’s vision, not stating my own.
In terms of Karofsky needing a gay male role model who is not effeminate, that was not to suggest that that is in any way a superior expression of homosexuality — but that I think it would lessen Karofsky’s irrational fear that accepting his sexuality would change who he is. In the way that people blindly fear that homosexuality is contagious, or that one can be “converted” by gays, I think that Karofsky fears a loss of identity in accepting that he is attracted to men. I think that he would benefit from examples that would disprove this fear, and educate him so that he would understand there is no “less than” or “better than” — rather, broaden his understanding of who he is and who his community includes.
Do I think Karofsky will start reading Vogue? Decidedly not. I don’t think he needs to read Vogue to be gay — but I think Karofsky’s currently under the impression that it’s all inextricably linked. Do I want Dave (and Azimio, and the hockey team) to realize that reading Vogue doesn’t mean you’re gay, that being in Glee doesn’t mean you’re “girly,” and that being effeminate doesn’t make you less of a man? Yes. I think exposure to different examples of “masculinity” and strength are vital to his (anyone’s) understanding — it’s why so many of my friends in high school were confused about themselves and didn’t necessarily understand or accept that they were gay for a long time, because they had so few examples outside the heteronorm of what it meant to be a man, a gay man, an effeminate man who may or may not be gay, etc. In discussing GLEE with my ex-husband (who’s gay and out), his overwhelming feeling was that it would have made it SO MUCH EASIER to understand himself. Not just ACCEPT himself and his sexuality, but just to UNDERSTAND who he was and what he was feeling.
It’s why the character of Karofsky himself is relevant and personally important to a lot of young people out there watching the show, because not everyone relates to Kurt or Blaine. I don’t think that establishes a hierarchy of what is the best example of gay, or manliness, I think it offers up the greater understanding that sexuality and sexual identity plays out differently for everyone, even within a specific community, and provides some reassurance that in accepting that community, you do not have to change the immutable truths of who you are. Like Santana joking about eating jicama and getting a flattop…
I don’t know if I’m making myself clear, here. It’s not a topic I feel especially conversant in — but I don’t mean to suggest that there is a hierarchy of value to be assigned to different forms of self-expression or identity.
Can I also just say how very, very happy I am to have found this blog and this community of educated and informed Glee folks? I am so grateful for the chance to talk these things out with you all. Thank you, DG.
Comment threads are so weird here…
@deconstructingglee—Oh, I can absolutely find Karofsky’s effemephobia believable. Some of the things he’s said are undoubtedly effemephobic, and even a lot of the struggles Kurt has gone through on the show generally have been with effemephobia (although they tend to get dealt with as “gay issues”, which just goes to show how much gender expression and sexuality are entertwined in people’s minds). But yeah, it’s not an excuse to terrorize people, and it’s something that should be dealt with critically both within the show and by fans of the show, not just stated as though it’s reasonable.
@Shanna – Oh, definitely. I absolutely agree with the idea that queer people in general need diversity in queer images, and even that Karofsky himself needs diversity in the queer images that he sees. But the way you originally phrased it did make it sound like you were creating a hierarchy, and even if you’re looking at it from Karofsky’s point of view, I still think that’s something that needs to be examined critically, not just parroted, because effemephobia (and the misogyny inherent in effemephobia) tends to go unquestioned a lot of the time—I can’t just take it as read that people find it to be a problem, much as I would like to. And, like I said, stating that the way for Karofsky to get educated is to introduce him to more “manly” gay role models without dealing with his effemephobia makes it seem like his effemephobia isn’t a problem, which really puts me on edge. Thank you for clarifying what you were saying.
Also, in response to this: “I don’t see Karofsky as a sex offender or a sexual predator. He’s a teenaged boy with some big issues in need of education and support and therapy.” I don’t want to speak for silverkit, but for me, the issue is that you’re presenting those as two discrete categories, and I don’t necessarily think they are. There’s a lot of crossover there. Sex offenders aren’t monsters. They’re people, and some of them are teenaged boys with a lot of issues in need of education and support and therapy. Unfortunately, sometimes before they get that support, they hurt other people, sometimes without even thinking that they’re doing something wrong, and the fact that they’re fucked up doesn’t excuse that. Considering that after that kiss, Karofsky switched tactics from shoving Kurt into lockers to staring at him, invading his personal space, and touching him in sexualized ways—yes, there is something predatory about that, and it definitely makes it seem like stopping or weeping weren’t foregone conclusions in that kiss scene. Even the kiss itself, even if it didn’t come from malice, it was an aggressive act that completely bulldozed over Kurt’s wants and needs, and it hurt Kurt in a specifically sexual way.
I suspect the fact the writers have ignored specifically sexualized ways in which Karofsky terrorized Kurt have to do with the popular perception that sex offenders aren’t our sons, brothers, neighbors, classmates—they’re faceless monsters who attack with malice aforethought. They didn’t want to deal with that, and they wanted to redeem Karofsky in a hurry, so they brushed it over. But ignoring it doesn’t erase Karofsky’s actions or make them less troubling, or less predatory.
Hello Kate. No, no it’s cool! So, I actually went back and rewatched Ballads because I was curious after your comment as to whether or not I was remembering things in a much harsher light when it came to Kurt’s actions. It’s been a while since I saw the episode and that’s a new way to look at it for me.
It was stupidity, not malice, on both their parts.
I have to say that I agree that it was stupidity on Finn’s part (shocking), but Kurt is way too smart to believe that having Finn sing“Having My Baby” in front of Quinn’s very religious parents wasn’t going to get them into trouble. Some of the quotes from the episode don’t help his case either.
Kurt: I know it seems weird that I’m helping Finn with Quinn, but rest assured, it’s all part of a master plan. No matter what I do and how much I help him with hi ballad, she’s going to end up disappointing him and breaking his heart. And, then, he’ll be crying into my shoulder.
Do I think Kurt was naïve enough that he didn’t considered the possibility of Quinn’s parents throwing her out? Yes. Especially with how guilty he looked when Finn told him what went down. Do I believe he thought this would get Finn in trouble with Quinn’s parents and put some distance between Finn and Quinn? Yes.
I don’t think he was malicious, like I said he looks honest to god shocked at how far things went, (Huh, I wonder if this may have figured into his not outing of Karofsky. He now had someone in his life who’s parents were willing to throw them out and he didn’t want that to happen to anyone), but this is definitely one of Kurt’s darker moments.
@Silverkit – I still don’t think so. In the part you quoted, he even said that he was helping. His plan was that he would help Finn with Quinn, she would eventually end up breaking Finn’s heart anyway because (in Kurt’s opinion) she sucks and doesn’t really care about Finn, and he would be Finn’s shoulder to cry on because he’d been so helpful and supportive to him in the past. If he deliberately set Finn up to fail, he doesn’t seem like the friend who supports him, he seems like the friend who gives crappy advice that explodes in Finn’s face, which isn’t really in his interests.
I think overall Kurt was a pretty crappy friend to Finn throughout most of the first season, because he was more interested in getting Finn to reject girls than he was in actually helping Finn with his problems. But the two moments when he tells Finn to sing his feelings (to the ultrasound and to Quinn’s parents) seemed like some of the few times he was actually being genuine with Finn instead of outright manipulative, because he believes in the power of song. Kind of similar to how he encouraged Blaine to sing to Jeremiah–that song was obviously a horrible choice for romancing someone, singing to him at his workplace was an obviously terrible choice, and Kurt even said afterwards that it was too much. But at the time when he encouraged Blaine to sing instead of backing out, he wasn’t actually trying to set him up to fail.
IRL I would say anyone encouraring someone in either of those situations was setting the other person up, but in the Glee world, I don’t think so. (The amorphous nature of rehearsal on Glee doesn’t help—in the Gap scene, Kurt reacts to the line “Baby girl, you the shit, that makes you my equivalent” like he can’t believe Blaine would sing that, even though he obviously had to rehearse the song with Blaine before. If we’d seen a scene of Finn rehearsing “She’s Having My Baby” with Kurt, instead of just having them talk about it, and we saw Kurt’s reaction to it, I think Kurt would have come off a lot more manipulative to me. As is, though, it read to me like he actually thought it was a good plan.) Also, Kurt is the same person who thought singing in the library was the best way to gain a bad reputation, that you should feed doves glitter, and that his plan to get Burt and Carole together would work out great for him and Finn. He’s kind of naïve, if not outright dumb sometimes.
I think we’re going to have to agree to disagree, but I can definitely see you’re reading of the episode, and Kurt’s actions. Especially after you fleshed them out above, and pointed out other song choices Kurt has been part of, and some of his more…interesting plans.
P.S. Your right comment threads are weird on this.
Absolutely–one of the things that makes media fun is that it’s so interpretable. 🙂 And in the case of Glee, like you said, pretty much everyone is a terrible person at one time or another, and the reality is so elevated and weird that sometimes it’s hard to figure out how we’re supposed to react to something because none of it makes any sense in a real world context. IMO Kurt trying to break up Finn and Quinn by getting him in trouble with her parents actually makes more sense than his plan as he related it (and as I interpreted it), so I can see why you’d read it that way, too.
Shanna- I personally am having a real good time (I LOVE discussion and debate), and I’m glad other people are too. It’s good to talk with people who don’t see everything exactly as you do. Opens up new pathways in your brain.
So..high fives to everyone on this blog/thread (Wait is it a pound now instead? Are high fives out of style? Am I old? =^.^= )
(Tangent: on livejournal, the porcelain-fans community’s current discussion post regards Kurt and Karofsky.)
OMG, this is so long, and I’m running out of ways to explain why I feel the way I feel, so this might be the end of this comment string for me!
I’ll say again that I think the three truly barbaric things that Karofsky did (“I’ll kill you,” wink, cake topper) seem to me to be over-the-top actions of convenience on the part of the writers, in order to get Kurt to Dalton for reasons of plot/Klaine. I think they are out of character for Karofsky, who does not otherwise cross the line from bully/jackass to potential sex offender.
And I don’t mean to suggest that sex offenders are a different breed than run-of-the-mill effed-up teenagers (boys or girls) and the two can’t co-exist in a single person; rather, I think that Karofsky himself is one but not the other. I’m saying that in watching NBK at the 29 minute mark about 700 times, I do not get a sense of Karofsky crossing that particular line. (Let me know if anyone wants me to detail why I don’t think Kurt does, either… Because I am apparently a glutton for punishment…!)
But, for the sake of argument, what happens after that kiss? Karofsky just revealed his deepest, darkest secret to Kurt. Kurt rejects him. Karofsky runs away. The next thing he knows, he is being confronted, in public, ON SCHOOL GROUNDS while surrounded his peers, by Kurt and A TOTAL STRANGER. And it doesn’t help that the stranger is everything he’s not (ie, spiffy, confident), and a smug know-it-all to boot (sorry you guys, but even with my newfound respect for Darren Criss, Blaine comes across as way too familiar with Karofsky and imperious in this scene). So that has to scare the hell out of Karofsky. Does anyone honestly think that at that moment Karofsky is any less terrified than Kurt has been? Is the confrontation in this scene any less threatening? It might lack the physical dimension of pushing someone around, but it is no less hostile and menacing. There’s a moment, after Kurt pushes Karofsky away from Blaine, that Dave gives Kurt a look which says (to me, at least), “How could you do this to me? You of all people are supposed to GET this!” (around 32:40)
Again, this is not in any way an excuse for what he does, but this may well explain why Karofsky ramps up his terrorizing of Kurt — because now he really does feel he has something — that is to say, everything — to lose. He is in a panic. He does EVERYTHING wrong. He doesn’t have to suffer any consequences. The situation is completely effed up.
I can still get over it. I can accept that Karofsky has a dawning self-awareness and sense of shame. I believe he begins thinking about himself, his actions, and their effect on others. I believe he HAS changed somewhat by BTW — perhaps it is Santana’s frank acceptance of him, and even if his initial Glee-club apology is scripted and rehearsed, it is still probable that he knows that the words he is using are actually the truth (re: consequences of bullying); by the time he and Kurt speak privately in Figgins’ office, he is no longer the volatile, so-scared-he-can’t-think-and-only-reacts cretin from earlier episodes. The look on his face at the end of the episode, as he watches the Glee kids — particularly Kurt — embrace what is most vulnerable about themselves, is so beautifully, painfully alienated and introspective. By PQ, I believe he is genuinely remorseful and able to not only see the other students — including Kurt — as human beings, but has gained the ability to look at himself critically and honestly (hence the ability to feel remorse for his actions). So I believe he is repentant. I believe he wants to do whatever is in his power (ie, keeping Kurt safe, apologizing) to make up for what he has done. I think he is self-flagellating at this point, his anger turned on himself rather than out at the world.
I know this is where I diverge from a lot of you: I can get past what he has done. I just can. I can accept his apology. I can see the possibility that such a boy, having done the wrong he has done and REALIZED it was wrong, can turn his life around and be a force for good. And if I accept that, if I accept his repentance, then I have to forgive him and I have to let him move forward with a clean slate. To do less than that seems too harsh a punishment for what he has done, given his youth, given his own confusion and pain, given his remorse.
And maybe I’m a sucker, and maybe he will disappoint me. Maybe next season he’s back to his old tricks and I’ll have to admit I was duped. But I want to be that sort of a person. I want to make mistakes in that direction, in the direction of giving people too much credit, too much trust. I don’t want to hold people’s mistakes against them indefinitely. I have sympathy for this boy. I believe he will make good, and that his greatest chance for becoming an open and respectful person who makes the right choices is for him to receive faith and trust from others, and know that they will hold him to a high standard because of that — and not keep one eye on him at all times, waiting for him to screw up again.
And if Kurt Hummel should happen to find himself with a soft spot for this big, flailing, troubled boy, I have no problem with that, whether it is friendship, a hand to hold during rough times, or an awkward attraction. I think if Dave starts singing in Season 3, we can bet it will be the latter…
I believe in Karofsky because I think that is the best service strong people can do for those who have shown great weakness but desire to put things right. What can I say? My first fandom is Harry Potter — I believe our greatest strength is love.
Also, The Advocate has a brand-spanking new Max Adler interview up…
Shanna, did I already say ❤ regarding giving people potentially too much credit? I'm one of those potential-suckers-but-that's-what-I-have-to-be, too. I meant to say ❤ earlier (tangent: & i just went to try & find that earlier place I wanted to, and can’t find it, so…?) and then the thread got away from me.
The Blaine/Kurt/Dave stairwell scene – Just re-watched this, and yeah, it’s hard to imagine how Blaine thought it was going to go well.
(And, on a shallow tangent, Kurt has never looked better in his life than he does in that scene. It’s somewhat distracting to me.)
OMG, you are DEAD ON about how gorgeous Kurt looks in that scene. It’s heartbreaking, actually, how beautiful he is there. It’s that blue jacket… My 5yo wants to be Kurt Hummel for Halloween and that’s one of the outfits I’m thinking of making for him.
I think that this entire giant discussion group should go have an ice cream together. I’ve never had a more sensitive conversation, with everyone taking care to really fight for their point but not get offended when others do the same.
❤ all around…
Well. Halloween – Photos if it happens! I’d totally cosplay that one, too; but serious tailoring would be required, as I have all kinds of feminine curves in places Colfer (obviously) does not. And literally nowhere to wear it. Ice cream: I’m in.
Well, I’m lactose intolerant, so I’ll skip the ice cream. But next time y’all are in Ireland, first pint of Guinness is on me. 🙂
Also, hells yeah about the blue jacket in the Blaine/Kurt/Karofsky scene.
CAN I JUST SQUEE THAT MY SON WAS MENTIONED IN THE VILLAGE VOICE REVIEW OF THE GLEE CONCERT SATURDAY NIGHT???? BECAUSE HE WAS A LITTLE MINI-KURT. Holy shit… Weird overflow of maternal pride is making me lightheaded…
AAH THEN I REALLY LOVE YOU! So, wait, what, really? It was you? I loved that article because of that part of the story. I posted it to porcelain-fans so everyone would read that section, because my heart was brimming over with love for the universe. And then it turns out to be someone I know (for some definitions of “know”.) Shanna. You. <3.
I think I’ll allow that — esp seeing as your comment on the VV was so damn adorable. Being A-spectrum myself, I think it’s amazing he was even able to enjoy the show, because I know how hard it is for me (and I’m grown up, and supposed to be all independent and that kind of thing, but wow — crowds, loud noises, strangers, trapped). So well done, getting him through that, and so happily!
From your comment, it seems like we actually both agree that Karofsky’s characterization is kind of a nonsensical mess, and where we differ is in which parts of Karofsky’s characterization we find unrealistic. I agree that upping the ante with Karofsky’s actions in a sexualized way was a plot contrivance to enable Kurt’s transfer to Dalton. But the thing is, once you show something like that onscreen, there are no take-backsies. By definition it can’t be out of character, because he did it, onscreen and over the space of several episodes. It’s part of his characterization now, like it or not. And to me it didn’t actually read as unrealistic for him, because most of what we’d seen of Karofsky previously was him exerting power over others with fear and physical intimidation (see: Theatricality, Never Been Kissed). The idea that after the kiss he’d discover one more way to do so, this time sexually, and then take advantage of it, makes sense to me with what we’d been shown of his character.
Since the sexual harassment came first, the part that reads as unrealistic to me is his subsequent characterization and other characters’ reactions to him, and IMO it’s just as much of a plot contrivance as the bullying was. Once they got Kurt to Dalton, they had to figure out a way to get him back to McKinley, and so they had to make Karofsky sympathetic instead of frightening, and they had to ignore the worst parts of his harassment of Kurt so that the focus was on Karofsky’s pain instead of Kurt’s. In the Superbowl episode, which is the next episode where we see Karofsky, nobody calls Karofsky on the death threat, and the one person who definitely knows about it (Finn) not only never mentions it, but he’s also the person who makes the most effort to befriend Karofsky. Suddenly Karofsky’s just “a homophobe,” and not somebody who threatened another person’s life and harassed him badly enough that he had to leave school. Suddenly the focus is on Karofsky looking vaguely ashamed at being called a homophobe, instead of him being gleefully homophobic, and on Karofsky longingly staring at the Glee club from the sidelines (which, again, came out of nowhere—all of a sudden he loves to perform!). Suddenly Kurt is no longer terrified of Karofsky, and has no problems cheering his team on at the big game or watching him perform with the Glee club that he had to leave because of Karofsky. In Born This Way, Karofsky still acts like his actions are no big deal, and still turns the blame around onto Kurt for “pushing” him, and then in the very next episode he appears in he’s expressing repentence and breaking down crying.
I can see why some people would read the changes in Karofsky’s character as genuine character development, because it vaguely follows an arc from bad behavior to repentence. Since whatever revelations he has happen almost entirely offscreen, though, to me it seems like they come entirely out of nowhere—the writers need to wrap up the plot by the end of the season, so Karofsky is increasingly sorry the closer we get to the end of the season. And since I can’t just ignore the sexual aspects, since they happened onscreen and were an important plot point, the fact that they remain unaddressed makes everything about Karofsky’s storyline from the Superbowl episode on unconvincing to me. It’s like everybody took a pill and just forgot about it, which is inherently unrealistic.
I don’t think at all that you’ve been duped, or that he’ll go back to his bullying ways next season. I think that you’re responding to Karofksy exactly the way that the writers want you to. I’m not saying at all that Karofsky is a terrible person, or unforgiveable, or that he’s lying about being sorry. Like the harassment, it happened onscreen, which makes it part of his characterization—he genuinely regrets what he did.
The thing is, I’m not actually criticizing Karofsky as a person—I’m criticizing him as a character, and IMO as a character he’s kind of an incoherent mess. I think the writers are entirely at fault, first for upping his harassment for plot reasons, and then for downplaying them for plot reasons, and for having him jump from gleeful harassment to mopey regret with no actual emotional journey in between. It has nothing to do at all with whether or not Karofsky’s actions are forgiveable—the problem is that what I and a lot of people find to be his worst actions have either been ignored or downplayed, so the question of forgiving him for them hasn’t even come up. Him terrorizing Kurt sexually hasn’t come up at all, and the death threat was brushed off in one line as a “figure of speech”, which everybody just seemed to accept. (Burt’s objection was that Kurt didn’t know it was just a figure of speech, not that no, in fact it was a death threat.) Kurt went from being terrified of him in Furt to not reacting to him at all in the Superbowl episode to rolling his eyes at Karofsky’s attempts at intimidation in Night of Neglect, none of which seems to be based on any character development we saw onscreen for either Kurt or Karofsky—they just needed Kurt to not be scared of him anymore, so he wasn’t.
Someone in another forum pointed out that in the same episode where Karofsky apologizes, we get the revelation about Blaine having been gaybashed, and Burt explicitly says that “Karofsky isn’t the worst out there”–all of which serves to make Karofsky’s actions look “not so bad” in comparison, so that he’s more easily forgiveable in the episode where the writers want us to forgive him. (And Burt all of a sudden doesn’t seem to find Karofsky threatening—if anyone was going to gaybash Kurt for wearing a kilt, wouldn’t Burt assume that it would be Karofsky, since he didn’t seem to find Karofsky’s sudden turnaround convincing? But the possibility can’t come up, because the writers want us to ignore all that.) Kurt himself was compared to Karofsky in Blame It On The Alcohol because he questioned Blaine’s struggles with his sexuality, which also served to downplay Karofsky’s actions as “just” homophobia, rather than as extended physical and sexual harassment.
Basically, if they’d actually addressed the seriousness of Karofsky’s actions, showed his character development as actual development instead of just emotional jaunts from once place to another, and then asked the audience to forgive him and to buy that he’s genuinely reptentent, I’d have no problems with it. As is, though, in order for his character to make sense, as you said, you have to ignore a big chunk of his characterization, which is easier for some people than for others.
Okay, I think I have this comment to make and then I am done. Like Shanna after this I think I’ll have aired every possible problem I have with Kurt/Karofsky/feelings regarding Karofsky etc. Typing all of this out (from post one on) has been an interesting/fun ride, and actually very cathartic. (I do however reserve the right to chuck everything I said, and jump back into the fray =^.^=)
Shanna-As far as the hypothetical forced second kiss I originally brought it up because we were talking about Karofsky’s size vs. Santana’s size and the level of fear Karofsky can inspire with his sheer bulk. At that moment in the locker room Karofsky’s size would be something you’d take in. I think part of the fear in that scene not only comes from Karofsky’s kiss, but the idea that when he goes in for a second the audience is aware of the fact that the two of them are alone in the locker room and Karofsky is much larger.
Before I type this next part I want to say again that I do not find Karofsky irredeemable, and I do believe he deserves help. I’ve said before that I want this kid to be good with himself. I don’t want him to go from being a miserable and lashing teenager to a miserable and lashing adult.
I agree with Kate in that just because Karofsky was a hurting teenager that doesn’t make his actions any less predatory. Hurting teenage boys can be monsters, and I’m using that word on purpose. Because in both the wink, the cake topper scene and later when he threatened Kurt’s life I wasn’t seeing a teenage boy. I was seeing a monster. Kurt even describes his life as like a horror movie at one point, and the monster that’s going to jump out from the shadows is Karofksy. Shanna you said you don’t think Karofsky crosses the line in NBK, and I agree. For me it was the cake topper scene which tipped all the scales.
Whether or not the writers suddenly want me to forget that these moments happened, the reality is that they happened. It’s cannon, and while Glee cannon can be a ball of mess Kurt’s storyline last season was solid enough (for Glee) that I can’t give it that blind eye. I keep bringing this up, and I’m sorry if I’m harping, but it’s because I feel like it’s important. Ignoring the amount of time it actually takes to get from Lima, OH to Westerville, OH…I can do that. Playing fast and lose with a subject that made headlines last year with how many GLBT kids were killing themselves over bullying (and those kids who were just perceived as gay as well) I can’t treat that the same way I treat the inconsistency of Santana’s dad being a doctor, but apparently she lives on the ‘wrong side of the tracks.’ I can’t and won’t have selective memory about pieces of this arch just because the writers of Glee pushed harder than they intended, and had to figure out a shoe-string way to fix the plot problems. I can’t forget that for a minuet it felt like Karofsky had been wearing a mask, and suddenly he was pulling it away and what I saw underneath scared the hell out of me (and Kurt).
Do I think that as of the end of the season Karofsky poses the same type of danger that he did to Kurt in the beginning? No, and his remorse over his actions is now cannon, and I believe it. Still, like Kate said all of the development he seems to have done before he became this sobbing mess in the hallway feels a bit out of left field. What happened? To see him be so horrible in cannon, and then have to assume he became introspective off screen is hard for me to deal with. I think that a lot of damage was done by Karofsky in regards to Kurt, and…I need more than just a nice crying scene to be able to get over that. I would really like something more than a nice crying scene.
“I believe he wants to do whatever is in his power (ie, keeping Kurt safe, apologizing) to make up for what he has done. I think he is self-flagellating at this point, his anger turned on himself rather than out at the world.”
This also feeds into another reason I think Kurt/Karofsky would be a bad idea. (Shanna, you’ve pointed out you don’t ship them so this is just me airing another reason I dislike the pairing). If Karofsky’s sudden redemption really is full speed ahead I think there a lot of realizations that are going to come crashing down on this kid (Karofsky’s entire arch with Kurt aside he’s been bullying people for years, and coming to terms with your sexuality can be exhausting and hard). I think some people want Kurt with Karofsky because they see Kurt as being able to ‘fix’ Karofksy when, as Kate has pointed out, some of Karofsky’s issues probably run very deep, and not all of them may be linked to internalized homophobia. I think some of this might be way out of Kurt’s league, and puts a weird responsibility on the victim of abuse to put the pain of their abuser (even if it’s a past abuser) on a high priority level.
I really want to see more of Karofsky’s dad (mom?). This might just be the actor selling the role very well, and it can be a whole different ball game when it’s your child coming out, but he does seem to love his son, and he takes an interest in his life. If he’s a gay slur spitting man behind closed doors I going to be very surprised.
“There’s a moment, after Kurt pushes Karofsky away from Blaine, that Dave gives Kurt a look which says (to me, at least), “How could you do this to me? You of all people are supposed to GET this!” (around 32:40) “
I think that’s a valid interpretation of that scene. I never took much thought about what Karofsky was thinking besides “Leave me alone you freaks! People can see us!”(Why does almost every conversation regarding these kid’s sexualities take place in the hallway. The HALLWAY!!!)As far as that moment goes, I always thought it was Kurt thinking how much he wished someone had told him things were going to be okay regarding his sexuality back in the day. I think he brought Blaine because he was still afraid of Karofsky, and Blaine was the only other person he’d confided in with the full extent of his misery regarding Karofsky’s bullying. He also may have thought that seeing the confident gay kid who made him feel so much better might help Karofsky. Not such a great plan. (Wow, if we could hook people up based on nothing but their horrible plan making skills then Blaine and Kurt would be together forever.)
As far as Blaine being ‘imperious and spiffy’…yep. True, but that feeds into a character study I think you can do on Blaine. The way he presents himself as together, dapper, adult and oh so shiny as a way to protect himself much the same way Kurt presents a condescending ice queen mask. Yeah, different post topic.
“Blaine having been gaybashed, and Burt explicitly says that “Karofsky isn’t the worst out there”–all of which serves to make Karofsky’s actions look “not so bad” in comparison, so that he’s more easily forgiveable in the episode where the writers want us to forgive him.”
Kate-Oh wow. I didn’t even notice that, but now that you’ve pointed it out it irritates me. Huh.
The original post is all clearly satire, for those of you that missed it.
As for the rest? TLDR.
It wasn’t actually. If you’d bothered to read the comments (even the first few) you’d see the blogger actually replied here, pointing out that I’d only quoted his criticisms and not the parts he’d been positive about.
DG, we spent a week going over the set list and watching those clips from the show in order, so that he would know which songs were coming up next, and have a general idea of what would happen during the show: having a plan is the key for him. I would lean in and tell him who was singing, which stage they were going to be on, etc.
Also, on the way to the show we stopped and bought him some foam earplugs (he picked bright pink, cute) so that he had some control over how much noise he got at any given moment.
I was very proud of him and how much determination he showed (we shared a cab over to the arena with FIVE drunk twenty-somethings who insisted on talking to him and asking him questions the whole ride) — it just goes to show what an abiding love of Chris Colfer can overcome! 😀 ❤ glee!
Yeah, having a plan is essential. I do hope you’re going to write about the experience. I’d love to read all about it.