Glee Live 3D Thoughts and Feelings

Right now, I’m trying to make sense of why the movie has made me angry. Angry enough that, towards the end of the film, not-happy tears were threatening.

I’m definitely disappointed. I’ve seen so much of the concert footage on You Tube and it looked fantastic. But I’m reminded a bit of the time I saw Cher perform and spent half the concert watching backup dancers while Cher changed outfits between each number. I feel like my time was spent on things I didn’t really care about.

It’s not that I don’t find Glee fans fascinating. I do. When I went to see Darren Criss perform in London, I brought my voice recorder specifically so I could interview his fans in the queue. It’s just that the way the stories and interviews went in the film, it felt like propaganda. It felt like, throughout the whole thing we were being told: Hey, everyone, have you noticed how Glee is a good thing?

You know what? That is exactly the kind of thing makes me want to hate Glee.

I know, I know it. I know the good Glee has done in the lives of countless people. I’ve been personally affected by it, and many of my friends have been too. I have met so many amazing and interesting people through being a fan of Glee. Heck, I have a Glee blog.

The film also made very clear a criticism I’ve heard from others but have never felt myself – the overabundance of Rachel and/or Finn songs. Never, ever have I been bothered by this. And yet when I first heard Jesse’s Girl starting, I groaned. In fact, between the (generous estimate) 20 or so people in the huge, Dublin cinema, the only fan noise I heard was when the Warblers started singing. It was kind of embarrassing how Darren Criss and the Warblers out performed every single member of New Directions. And yet, the Silly Love Songs number would have been much improved by Chris Colfer’s presence. Because we needed more than 10 seconds of Klaine since we got an hour of Finchel.

The less said about Gwyneth Paltrow in the film, the better.

And where was Jane Lynch? We saw her in the trailers, and she was being fantastic, snarky, hilarious.

Good things?

It was amazing to see everyone in 3D. It really was. I felt like, during the group numbers, that I had the best seat in the house. Oh, and Heather Morris’ boobs. Little known fact: Heather Morris’ boobs are why 3D was invented.* Also, Santana wears white panties and Brittany wears black. Just in case you were wondering.

The Warblers were amazing. Darren Criss (as usual) performed like it was his last chance to perform anywhere, and because of that, I know we’ll be seeing him perform for a very long time to come.

The cast interviews were inspired fun.

But really, it would have been so much better if they’d just shown the entire concert, as it was performed and added the cast interviews in. Maybe some fan chatter from outside the shows. I had half intended to sneak off and see it again at my local cinema (I’d already booked tickets in Dublin by the time I found out they were showing it here) but now? Maybe if they let me in free.

Oh, and if you’re going to see it, the credits where you’re being slushied? They’re not the end of the film. There’s a really good group number after it and most of the audience left before it happened. Like, at least 12 of them. I only stayed because I was really enjoying being slushied in 3D.

*not actually true.

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13 thoughts on “Glee Live 3D Thoughts and Feelings

  1. Everything you say is true, and I was very disappointed by the lack of concert in this concert movie, and yet…

    If I hadn’t been sitting with a wildly Rachel-centric little girl on my left, two screaming Kurtsies on my right, and squeeing Criss fans behind me, I might have had the same experience you had. But since I DID have the awesome fans surrounding me, I didn’t mind the onscreen fans quite as much.

    I think the most succinct response I might have for you is that while we few (we happy, happy few) clever adults watch the show and dig deep and wildly overthink things, this movie was ABSOLUTELY and only made for the under-16 set. Maybe even under-13s. And while it’s true that not even THEY needed the message spoon fed to them quite so artlessly, and even THEY might have enjoyed a bit more singing, there was a very young and silly audience targeted and the Powers That Be just didn’t give the rest of us much to work with…

    And, ultimately, it didn’t do the concert justice, because it COULDN’T: the concert wasn’t about the singing, or even seeing our pals from McKinley right there in the (gigantic) room with us: it was about being with 10,000 other people giving it up to the inanity and the schmaltz and the beauty that is this community of fans. That was the magic, not anything that happened on the stage (except for DC making sweet, sweet love to the lot of us).

    It was an unsatisfying snack, and I think the poor returns will probably get that message across to the producers. They’ll have to leave it alone or try harder.

    And the rest of it: Lynch, maybe Single Ladies, and I’m sure a lot more cast footage, will be what they whip out to get us to buy the DVD at Christmastime…

  2. I just saw Glee Live 3D two days ago, and have been mulling over my thoughts and feelings ever since. Phrases such as “watered down”, “overly processed”, “dumbed down” come to mind. I too have seen quite a bit of the tour on YouTube and expected more, especially interviews with the characters, the Kurt and Blaine skit, more Kurt period.
    Did anyone else feel that Kurt was muted on purpose in this film? Why did he sing “I Want to Hold Your Hand” in a lower register than usual? It was beautiful, and I have a fresh appreciation for his voice, but I can’t help but think they were muffling him somehow, maybe to make him more palatable for the viewing masses? In fact, overall the film made the Disney-fication of Glee very apparent, and that made me sad even though I like to think I’m sophisticated, even jaded, about media matters.
    What did blow me away? The obvious talent of the performers, their sheer joy and exuberance and synergy with the crowd and each other. Away from the sleight of hand of TV, all of them are clearly so incredibly gifted. Darren Criss just…holy crap, he blew me away with his charisma and energy. I could watch him all day (and it feels like I do some times. Damn you, tumblr…)
    I kind of agree with your comment about the focus on fans A separate film about fandom would be very interesting, but here I wanted more songs, more guts, more of that raw synergy that I love about Glee.
    Lastly, it didn’t help that I was one of 6 people in a small suburban theatre; not enough bodies to get a sing a long going!

  3. I haven’t seen the film yet (and may not get there at this rate), but I just need to weigh in the arrangement of IWTHYH.

    While I’m often the first person to be like “stop silencing queerness” because hi, I’m queer and often encounter people trying to silence people like me, I really think this is about nothing other than vocal strain. Tours are hard; Colfer had a lot of big numbers; singing in that part of his range, with power, is a lot to ask of most voices on a nightly basis. Notice how many people had numbers cut or missed dates due to illness, vocal strain, etc. He didn’t; and he was pretty much the only one with that sort of vocal range and singing demands who didn’t.

    Glee is a hit show wherein Kurt is Kurt and his vocal range is a part of the narrative in a way that both does and does not intersect with his sexuality. So can we talk about how hey, is there less Kurt or Kurt/Blaine in the film because of concerns about how mainstream audiences take that? Sure. But I don’t and won’t buy it as regards that arrangement, and speculation about that being the case makes me uncomfortable in a way I can’t actually put my finger on (so sorry for that, I have no idea).

    It’s also worth noting that how Kurt and Blaine are going to be as an ongoing couple remains unknown. The film, as quasi-canon (that additionally makes NO FUCKING SENSE), is a terrible place to continue that development, so I can see the impulse to shy away for that.

    I think the whole thing is a hot, awkward mess, but I think there are a lot of issues involved. And mainstream media has had little problem making money off commoditizing queer folk recent history (even before we were allowed to kiss on TV). It makes them rich, and it keeps us from being fully human.

    But seriously, I think this was all about Colfer protecting his voice, and having an arrangement he could handle even if he was sick or ill.

  4. I hadn’t thought of CC needing to protect his voice. I would have thought singing lower would have been harder for him, not easier. You may well be right.
    I am however curious why this makes you uncomfortable?

  5. Is it that you worry people feel his sexuality and high voice are somehow inexorably linked? I have to say, the only other countertenors I have ever met are, in fact, gay, so I do find the two hard to separate. In fact, all the countertenors I’ve ever heard of are gay. That could have to do with straight guys being super uncomfortable with their high pitched voices and simply not singing (thus drawing attention to it) whereas gay performers may feel more freedom in that respect.

  6. Like, I said, I don’t actually know, but let me try:

    A lot of the discussion around Glee often seems to involve people who don’t live with the consequences of being queer being annoyed about not getting more narrative/scenes/visuals they find titilating (Brittana or Klaine) and then blaming that on homophobia. This can seem like the oppression I experience becomes a useful tool for people to discuss their desires while feeling like they are contributing to a pro-equality agenda. The desires are fine (if it turns your crank and hurts no one else, it’s awesome), but they have nothing to do with pro-equality (although they can sometimes inspire people to get active; but they can just as often work against that by being fetishizing). Thinking boys or girls kissing each other is hot/pretty/sweet is not activism in and of itself.

    When the discussion comes from sources external to the direct experience of homophobia (although, yes, homophobia impacts everyone, including straight people), the “I didn’t get what I wanted because of homophobia” narrative reduces people and stories to oppression. Is Klaine awesome because it’s two boys? or because it’s a romance with amazing chemistry that happens to include two boys? In the world of today that’s legitimately hard to answer and there isn’t a right answer.

    But something I’m still not articulating well makes me grind my teeth a little at the idea of one of the show’s biggest stars being told to sing in a register other than the one that made him a star because of supposed homophobia. It makes me grind my teeth not because it would be inherently HORRIBLE if it were true, but because at bottom, this accusation makes no sense to me, even if Fox has shown some apparent discomfort with the many ways Glee pushes the envelope.

    Because if they’re scared of Colfer’s beautiful voice? Why do they let him show it off all the time on the show? Why do his tracks sell so strongly? Why do you never hear ANY scuttlebutt about network discomfort with the many Glee stars, both gay and straight (off the top of my head: Chris Colfer, Darren Criss, Max Adler, Diana Agron, Cory Montieth, Naya Rivera) who have been actively involved in gay rights causes connected to their involvement with Glee?

    There’s real homophobia in the world. Some of it very possibly even coming from Fox (see: the ongoing question marks around “Born this Way”). I just can’t believe this is part of it, and I find it a distraction that’s too often about people mistaking liking queer narratives for social activism, and being cranky about not getting more of what turns their emotional or physical crank.

    These are not accusations at you, but at the climate that makes every act of “I didn’t get the story I wanted” about homophobia; it’s something that irks me, in ways I’m still not articulating well as a queer person, as a culture critic and as a creator. This stuff is a big feature of Torchwood fandom too, where there are oddly many similar discussions as the show creator is also a gay man who gets hit with a lot of accusations of homophobia. Of course gay people can be homophobic. So can TV networks. But sometimes we just didn’t get what we wanted, because we didn’t get what we wanted.

    Finally, I’m really no expert on singing, at all, but FWIW, certainly, mostly people I know find their upper range is the more likely thing to go to hell when they are tired/sick/overworked. It’s certainly true of my speaking voice in life and performance.

  7. Thank you, that helps clarify. And I couldn’t agree more. Not being in the demographic (by a long shot) the film was aimed at likely explains my general disgruntlement.
    You have articulated the “activism”, read titillation, well. As an ally I feel so protective of characters like Kurt. I saw the film with a family member whose politics on this matter are iffy, so I was hyper alert.

  8. Since we’re being really up front, here, let me voice my darkest fear with regards to Chris and Kurt:

    I think that with the growth spurt came a voice change. I don’t think he can consistently sing in that same insane register anymore — enough to do it in the studio, where there are retakes and sound engineers to clean up the rough bits, but not enough to risk at a live show. I’ve been paranoid about this for a while now. I hope I’m TOTALLY wrong and if anyone who knows anything about singing wants to help me out of my terror, please do.

    But that’s what keeps me up at night.

  9. My voice-related tangent. Singing wise — I lose my midrange when I’m sick. So awkward. In fact, when I wake with a cold/throat infection (which is my usual), I cannot sing anything above my most chesty of chest voice.

    I have to sing through it to even retrieve a passable speaking voice. By the time I’m through, I can usually sing higher than normal and lower than normal, but I’m missing notes in my midrange.

    But that’s my voice. And also my very specific throat problems that I get. CC, during the tour, reports having had a sinus infection. That’ll affect his voice differently. And more likely than not, his head voice.

    So I know that for me, pushing a song into my middle range wouldn’t make it safer for me in the case of illness, but for others, it would make sense.

    I really, really doubt CC’s voice is going to deepen substantially at this point in his life. His growth spurt is later than I would have expected. I know my brother really shot up around age 17. That said, permanent voice change usually occurs a couple years before the growth spurt, and before proper facial hair (and CC seems to be full-beard capable, which I know thanks to 3D close ups). So I’d guess he’s “safe” in that respect. 🙂

    Now re: fetishization and equality

    It’s irritating and dehumanising but I’m pretty sure it’s a normal part of the process of acceptance. The problem, of course, is beautifully illustrated by the state of the women’s movement today. If we, as a queer culture (allies included) buy into the fetishization of queerdom, we’ll pay for it for a very long time. If we continue to push back at that, keeping our stories human and complete, we’re better off. Think mini skirts = liberation and then 6 year old girls in playboy t-shirts and you’ll know what I mean. Pretty boys kissing on television and hot girls fucking in movies is not equality, or acceptance, but we can use it that way, despite what it is.

  10. OK, I’m feeling slightly reassured.

    I guess I’m tuned into that fear because my husband, who had a VERY high speaking voice when I met him at age 21 (he, too, always got “ma’am” on the phone), but it lowered considerably by the time he was 25. He still has a very soft, relatively high voice for a man (and a big guy, 6’1″ and broad of shoulder). Of course, my husband also laughs like Ernie from Sesame Street, so he has a number of audible quirks.

    And every time I think to myself, “Oh, they haven’t given Chris one of those high Kurt songs in a while, he’s outgrown the voice!” they throw something like AIWNSG at us and I think, “It’s okay, it’s okay…”

    But back to the Glee movie, how much of the singing do you guys think was ACTUALLY sung live? I don’t really object to the lip-syncing or tons of pre-recorded backing vocals, but I was wondering what you guys thought the likelihood was that anyone other than Lea was singing all on their own, live?

  11. I didn’t get to see it live; I just couldn’t justify the price of the tickets, not to mention I live 3 hours from the closest venue (Verizon Center in DC). So, this was the next best thing: feeling like being in the front row and able to feel the excitement of the fans.

    I went to the movie knowing that the Klaine skit and Single Ladies were not in the theater version (hopefully, they will be on the DVD?). To be honest, I was ambivalent about even going after finding that out, but since I’d paid the $30 for the Sneak-Peek (and the included swag), I drove the hour and a half to Fredericksburg, VA to see it. (I trolled YouTube twice a day during the tour and recorded 27 different versions of SL before YT could take them down so I’m all set on that front…and side…and rear…um, yeah.)

    I loved it and had a wonderful time. There were maybe 60 people (and that’s a high estimate), mostly female and I, at 55, was probably one of the oldest there. I had a grand time all by my lonesome, but I did meet “gameboycolor” from LJ. She and her friend had dressed as Warblers and were cute as hell.

    One of the funniest moments in the film (to me) was several gals waiting for the last of their group to arrive. They were holding up the shirt she was going to wear. It said “Un-Lucky”…she had just been in a car accident…and she had all their tickets. I hope they had a happy ending.

    “Gleekto” on LJ said, “The movie isn’t Glee Live. For me, it was Glee: the phenomenon. And well, I like being a part of it.” That pretty much sums it up for me, as well.

  12. I think in some of the interviews, this was discussed (how many interviews did the cast do? It was crazy). I think CC, LM and AR were all singing live. I have no problem with the dance numbers being lip sync’d because you can only move so much and still sing properly. And, with Glee, I have very few issues with lip syncing in general. They’re not all musicians. Many of them are simply actors/dancers who sing for a role.

    I can’t remember if anyone said if DC was singing live.

  13. > it would have been so much better if they’d just shown the entire concert, as it was performed and added the cast interviews in.

    Yes, that would have been ideal.

    I would have loved a lot more Chris Colfer on that screen (a LOT more), and damn them for cutting Single Ladies, but…as someone who didn’t get to the live tour, I can be cheesy enough to admit that it was really nice to see him perform in 3D at all.

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