Dorothy Snarker takes Glee to the shed for a spanking

I defend “Glee” a lot. Like, a lot a lot. Like there were stretches where I felt like all I did was defend my love of “Glee.” So, in that respect, I feel I’ve built up a close-to lifetime supply of goodwill for this silly little show about a show choir in Ohio with a magical costume and backup dancer budget that makes trickle-down economics seem positively Keynesian.

So now, now I feel like burning through a little of that goodwill. If fact, I feel like setting the whole house on fire and watching the flames lap loudly against my still raging soul. Why? Well, because last night’s episode of “Glee” really fucking sucked.

It didn’t just suck because of the normal inconsequentialities and flagrant inconsistencies that can make “Glee” so frustrating for people who insist on living in a fact-based reality. I’m saying it sucked because for a show that prides itself on sending a message of tolerance and diversity, it sent a message of consequence-free outing and white-male salvation. It was severely misguided to give it the benefit of the doubt, and a few of those dreaded –ist and –istic words if you don’t.

Also, don’t get me started on the fact that the episode was called “I Kissed a Girl” and no girls actually kissed. (That cheek kiss was cute and all, but come the fuck on.)

read the rest: Dorothy Surrenders: Out, out damn Gleek.

I’m still sorting out my feelings on this, so bear with me a bit. In the meantime, girl-on-girl pop-culture guru Dorothy Snarker is pretty sure of her feelings about it, and I can’t say I can find much to counter them.

I’ve always framed Finn as the well-intentioned but clueless ally. But in an episode where Santana is disowned by her abuela and propositioned (threatened?) with corrective sex (that scene read really sinister for me, and I want to say “rape” but I hesistate.) And here Finn is again — well intentioned, but fucking clueless. And the problem with privilege and cluelessness is that other people pay for the clueless part of that equation.

And for a show that is lesbian themed in a very heavy handed way (but hey, that’s Glee), there’s a real lack of healthy feminine sexuality. Cheek kisses? Quinn wanting to make another baby? Shelby falling into bed with Puck because he’s supportive? Beiste unable to hold a guy’s hand because her first thought is that she’s being robbed? Sue looking for a hook up so that nobody will think she’s gay?

I have some issues, and it looks like I’m not alone.

Advertisements

18 thoughts on “Dorothy Snarker takes Glee to the shed for a spanking

  1. I’m out of my league and my comfort zone on this one, but here’s my spare change:

    I think there is a pretty clear “Come out!” message inherent in Glee narratives — and always has been — whether it’s embracing your inner/outer loser or celebrating your sexual identity, I think it’s been a very strong and consistent message that hiding is bad for you and for those around you.

    Which may or may not be true, and it may be quite a Disney portrayal of the end results of open self-acceptance.

    But this episode is far from inconsistent with the past 2 years of Glee.

    Kurt didn’t out Karofsky, and repeatedly denied that he ever would, but he did put a great deal of pressure on him to come out, leveraging Karofsky’s feelings of guilt, and his “owing” Kurt against Karofsky’s fear of being ostracized or worse. So the method is gentler by far than what Finn did to Santana, but the message is the same: you will be better, you will be happier, you will be NICER TO US if you just accept yourself and come out of the closet — with the implied/explicit “where the rest of us will gladly accept you in return”.

    But in defense of Finn, he wasn’t holding Santana’s intervention out in the quad: they restricted it to the Choir Room, which is a safe harbor of acceptance. At least in theory.

  2. I think Finn trying to do something nice after the clusterfuck of outing her was important.

    I think Santana being angry at Kurt and Blaine for a) playing along with Finn and b) being happy was deeply legitimate.

    I think, in spite of myself, the moment with Finn and Santana and “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” was touching, and was also an intentional shout back to the 3.05 “your first time matters” stuff, which was a decent structural choice even if it was a piss poor political one.

    I think the message that coming out, if you are able to do so, is a good thing is a good message.

    I think having the straight white dude tell Santana how she should handle and feel about something not of her own choosing (being gay and being outed) was completely fucked, especially with the lack of acknowledgement of things he might have possibly learned about the complexities of Santana’s situation from, oh, I don’t know his step-brother and his step-brothers non-white boyfriend???????? FAIL FAIL FAIL FAIL FAIL — and this is not me being politically angry, this is me being narratively angry. There was some great potential here that was just squandered.

    I also think that the acknowledgement of gay teen suicide was clunky at best (can’t decide if that was a Finn problem or a writing problem) and that, despite my discomfort with “born this way rhetoric” that the episode was very clumsy around homosexuality and choice in a way that was, again, narratively wasteful.

  3. Yeah no.

    This week on Glee:

    Figgins and WIll are incompetent assholes.

    Finn is scared Santana is going to kill herself. As her *friend,* he does what he can. He learns and grows and matures, etc.

    Puck gets with the program re: Quinn in a way that makes narrative sense.

    Rachel continues to not quite get humans, and deal with her inconvenient conscience. Also growing up.

    Santana faces down a rape threat, is supported by her friends again, (and over and over and over again in general, however artlessly, they are TEENAGERS and they’ve grown so much since Kurt) and is rejected by the woman who by all accounts raised her.

    I missed the part in the feminist handbook where the straight white males weren’t allowed to get character growth or become less assholish. I always thought that was one of the goals–Finn needs to grow up into a Burt, not a Will, for the show’s alleged optimism to work. And the whole episode was centered on Santana.

    WTF.

  4. I’m fairly pissed that not one single person bothered to point out to Finn that outing people is not an acceptable thing to do and that he never acknowledged that he did so and that it was indeed a bad idea.

  5. Oh jesus Finn is following in Mr Will’s ‘I’m so nice that whatever I do absolves me from responsibility’ I knew it would happen, but I had hope as Hudson now has a positive male role model in the form of Congressman Burt. I think the writers more than justified the slap, I wanted to punch the bastard. And this is a fictional character!!! need i also point out that this show is written by three men, they may be witty and compassionate but I think they need to provide a little eye opener in the form of a little Sue redemption. How perfect instead of chasing a man to clear her image would it have been for her to stand behind her protegee, toughen her up, tell her what to expect.
    Also Girls just wanna have fun has done the impossible-if they’d given Chris Colfer the number he could have made it work but Monteif can’t-if they wanted to cheer the girl up do the upbeat version which never fails to get the heart up and dancin.

  6. I have to disagree on the Girls Just Wanna Have Fun — I thought it was the best Montieth has ever sounded, and I thought it was a really lovely arrangement.

    I’ve always found the “Some boys take a beautiful girl and hide her away from the rest of the world/ I want to be the one to walk in the sun” line to be of the Words To Live By variety, and thought that this version made the line pop like red lipstick and I loved it…

  7. TOTALLY! I feel like I could forgive the rest of the ep’s pitfalls if anyone had done this, including Finn himself. It would have been easy at the beginning to add a line like, “Hey, I know this is my fault, and outing you wasn’t cool, and I’m sorry. I said you didn’t really slap me because I want to make it up to you.”

    Instead, Santana was supposed to be indebted to Finn for his lying about the slap. Not to mention that this is, what, the fifth time we’re supposed to be on board with blackmail? I mean, seriously?

  8. The worst part for me was that not only did no one call Finn on outing her, not only did Santana essentially thank him for it, but they used the real life suicide of an actual gay kid who was bullied for being out and gay to justify Finn outing Santana and exposing her to the abuses that gay kids face. Since they didn’t reference him by name, I’m not sure how many people caught the reference to Jamey Rodemeyer, but it was there, and it was infuriating.

  9. ….calling that a justification is quite a stretch.

    It’s more along the lines of “oh, Finn understands that there are consequences.” Then he tries to fix it, clumsily, by giving her a safe and supportive space. He tries to fix his fuckup. It’s not perfect, of course, but saying that there was any implication that Finn was *justified* in outing Santana is a gross misrepresentation.

  10. @Julia –

    //….calling that a justification is quite a stretch. It’s more along the lines of “oh, Finn understands that there are consequences.” Then he tries to fix it, clumsily, by giving her a safe and supportive space. He tries to fix his fuckup. It’s not perfect, of course, but saying that there was any implication that Finn was *justified* in outing Santana is a gross misrepresentation.//

    He gave no indication that he realized that this was his fuckup, though.

    Santana: Do you realize you’re basically *forcing me* out of the flannel closet?
    Finn: Salazar’s ad is going to run. That’s what’s forcing you to deal with this.

    In his first speech to Santana, Finn says “when you hide who you are, you hide part of that awesomeness with it. That’s why you act out, because you hurt inside.” In his second speech, the one referencing Jamey Rodemeyer, he says “I don’t want you to die. …You deal with your anxiety surrounding all this stuff by attacking other people, and someday that’s not going to be enough and you might end up attacking yourself.”

    Being in the closet makes Santana act out and hurt others, and he’s afraid that it will eventually make her hurt herself. He’s not citing suicide as a consequence of being out/being outed, he’s citing it as a consequence of being in the closet, and as a justification for him “forcing her out of the flannel closet” in Glee. In the scene outside of Figgins office, he tells Santana he feels bad for her–not because she got outed by Salazar or because Finn outed her to the school, but because she’s hiding who she is. He keeps trying to help her because he feels bad for her because she’s closeted, not because he feels bad that she was outed or responsible for her being outed. Over and over again it’s the closet that’s the problem, not the outing.

    I also don’t know that he was so much “giving” her a safe and supportive space as forcing one on her, which Santana points out twice.

  11. There was nothing in the episode suggesting that he *wasn’t* justified in outing her, and everything I cited suggesting that he was. There was also Santana thanking and hugging him after his performance (which was an extension of his “I’m forcing you out of the flannel closet because I don’t want you to kill yourself” speech), and Santana’s coming out speech to her grandma where she basically repeats everything Finn said.

    If I missed some part of the show where Finn wasn’t framed as being in the right, though, I’d be glad to hear about it.

  12. I’m not suggesting he was framed as being in the wrong, though I would argue that he certainly was in the previous episode, and Glee tends to move at such a breakneck pace that might be considered sufficient by some.

    But neither is there any evidence that he’s not trying to do anything besides a bad situation he has caused. Which I would argue is a really positive and needed message, and different from “he’s right in outing her.”

    Finally, I think his speech where he mentions suicide is meant to make the previous parts of the episode cohere and explain his motivations overall. The scene goes:

    “You realize you’re basically forcing me out of the closet.”

    “The ad is forcing you out of the closet.”

    “Why are you doing this.”

    “I don’t want you to die.”

    So…

    1: Finn does not see himself as outing Santana, and when he mentions the ad, she doesn’t argue. This does not mean he’s not responsible for the ad! I’d say Mash Off was pretty forcefully conclusive about that. But it is true–Finn’s not the one telling everyone in Ohio, and the glee club assignments are not outing Santana. That’s specified, actually, and that makes a huge difference to the narrative.

    2: He ties together the ad (with the repercussions it carries) and him worrying about her killing herself. I don’t see how that could be any clearer.

    3: Whole point of IGB, and of several components of the way Glee writes its queer characters, is that bullying and abuse keeps people in the closet and leads to suicide. Being closeted doesn’t make you kill yourself, the reasons keeping you in do. That is explicitly articulated in several different ways this episode.

    This is not an episode about the ethics of outing in any way. It’s an episode about what happens next. And the way it’s being framed as needing to have been about Outing Is A Very Bad Thing is not productive, because it does not reflect the actual focus.

  13. //But neither is there any evidence that he’s not trying to do anything besides a bad situation he has caused… Finn does not see himself as outing Santana//

    These two points are contradictory. If he doesn’t see himself as outing Santana, than he’s not trying to [fix? deal with?] a bad situation that he has caused. He says flat-out that he’s helping her because he feels bad for her, he cares for her, he worries about her. Which, yay, good for him, but it means his motivation is completely the opposite of how you’re framing it. He can’t be trying to deal with the consequences of his fucked-up if he isn’t acknowledging that he fucked up.

    Mash-Off was pretty forcefully conclusive that he outed her, but my ultimate point wasn’t that he wasn’t framed as outing her. It’s that him outing her was ultimately framed as being for her own good, because he’s worried about her, and therefore justified. I don’t need the episode to have been about how Outing is a Very Bad Thing, but I do need it not to be about how Outing Saves People From Themselves.

    //the glee club assignments are not outing Santana.//

    We may just have very different views of outing, but the thing is? They are. Everyone in glee club knows about Santana, but she’s not actually out to them. Finn saying that “everybody knows” was also how he justified himself in Mash-Off, so if you think he was shown to be in the wrong there, for consistency’s sake shouldn’t he also be in the wrong when he tells Santana in front of the glee club that everybody knows about her and Brittany? His entire point was encouraging her to accept herself and come out.

    //He ties together the ad (with the repercussions it carries) and him worrying about her killing herself. I don’t see how that could be any clearer. //

    No, he ties together the ad and her own anxiety about being out, the way that her anxiety causes her to attack others, and his fear that she will eventually attack herself. The episode itself acknowledged the consequences of her being outed, but Finn didn’t. Also, all the consequences came from the pizza guy’s video, not from Finn outing her to the school. The pizza guy outing her has negative consequences; Finn outing her has positive consequences (forcing her to accept herself).

    //bullying and abuse keeps people in the closet and leads to suicide. Being closeted doesn’t make you kill yourself, the reasons keeping you in do. //

    “I’ve tried so hard to push this feeling away and keep it locked inside, but every day just feels like a war. And I walk around so mad at the world, but I’m really just fighting with myself.But I’m too tired. I have to just be me.”

    Santana isn’t mad at the world because the world is homophobic and abusive–she’s fighting a war with *herself*, just as Finn isn’t worried about her facing the consequences of being publicly out–he’s afraid of her attacking *herself* as an extension of the way she bullies others because of being closeted.

    Glee often does this thing where it conflates being out to oneself/self-acceptance with being out publicly. Santana has been out *to herself* as a lesbian since “Born This Way”. Does that mean that all her struggles with herself are over? Of course not. But the focus on self-acceptance = being publicly out pretty much overrides all of those reasons for being closeted that you mention above. If you compare how much of the episode was about Santana need to accept herself as opposed to Santana dealing with the consequences of being outed, I’m pretty sure you’ll find it weighted towards the former.

    “when you hide who you are, you hide part of that awesomeness with it. That’s why you act out, because you hurt inside.”
    “Glee is about learning about how to accept yourself for who you are, no matter what anybody else thinks.”
    “You deal with your anxiety surrounding all this stuff by attacking other people, and someday that’s not going to be enough and you might end up attacking yourself.”
    “And I walk around so mad at the world, but I’m really just fighting with myself. But I’m too tired. I have to just be me.”

  14. Sorry to re-reply after my already extremely wordy response, but in case it’s not clear: the focus on self-acceptance basically reframes it as a story about Santana needing to *come out* rather than a story about Santana *being outed*. And it makes Santana being closeted a result of her not accepting herself, rather than a result of “bullying and abuse [that] keeps people in the closet.”

  15. Finn outed her, resulting in the pizza guy outing her to even more people and he denied having any part in the latter. Then he blackmailed her into sitting in a room full of people discussing her sexuality and singing about her, which was frankly just condescending and rude. And for some reason, everyone else is perfectly fine with this and Santana ends up thanking him and the group.

    All of that means he was shown to be justified in outing her.

  16. Pingback: Glee on Race and Sexuality « Fallingfromprams

  17. The thing everyone who commented on here seems to forget is this: Everyone in the freaking school basically knew about Santana being a lesbian because she walks around with Brittany EVERYWHERE and held a major conversation about loving her last year IN THE MIDDLE OF A HALLWAY. She also sang pretty obviously subtexted songs toward Brittany last season. So whether she wanted to admit it or not, at the very least, everyone in Glee club knew she was a lesbian before she was ready to admit it. In this recent episode, they were showing her how much support she had, even if she never officially came out to them.
    So maybe Finn said some things he shouldn’t have. Nobody approached her about it later. But once the ad hit the internet, every macho-chacho jock at McKinley approached Santana about her sexuality.
    Santana was in a state of denial/self-hatred, and sometimes it does take outside interference to show someone that it’s O-freakin-K to acknowledge it in public and find support. I’m honestly more upset by the fact that the writers skimmed over her reaction to her grandmother rejecting her, as well as the lack of Brittany and sweet lady kisses in this episode.

Leave a Comment

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

WordPress.com Logo

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

Twitter picture

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

Facebook photo

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

Google+ photo

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

Connecting to %s