On My Way

Discussion of the Glee Season 3, Episode 14 “On My Way” will be triggery for depression, suicide and self-harm. Maybe other stuff too. Let’s leave it at triggery. 

I may not be ready to write this yet, but I’m going to try. It may be a tad disjointed.

I’m not sure I don’t want Finchel to get married. I mean, it’s interesting, isn’t it? I don’t know why, but I just feel like it wouldn’t be the end of the world.

What is wrong with Blaine? I mean, I know we’ve been talking about this on Tumblr and over at Letters From Titan for a while, but seriously. Cough Syrup? As Burt Hummel once said “Fine don’t sing like you just sung.”And the screenshots of Blaine when he’s not directly involved or speaking — he just looks sad, like that’s his default. And oh, wow, Blaine. Also, what’s with Blaine narrating the show?

Karofsky. I’m a Klainer, but like many of us, I love Karofsky too. I love him because he’s the ugly part of the queer experience, and my life is all about that ugly life. In fact, at this point, my journey probably reflects Dave’s more than it does any other queer character on the show. My mother once told me I would be better off dead… about 3 years after she cried at my hospital bedside after an OD, so it’s not like she didn’t have a frame of reference. Parents are humans, and sometimes very, very, ugly humans.

I never bullied anyone for being gay, but I was anti-gay in my theology for years. Like Karofsky, the out part of my life involves a lot of dealing with people who were just like I’d been (is that redemption?). And like Karofsky, my beliefs and words affected me as much as they affected anyone. Our homophobic society acts on closeted people as much as it does on the out-and-proud. More, even, maybe. You can’t escape the words in your head, so those words need to be accepting.

The bedroom scene was exquisite. It, at times, reminded me of the Brooks suicide scene in Shawshank Redemption. At the same time, it was so different. Brooks was stoic, and at peace with his decision, leaving his mark before he left. Both men dressed in their best, trying to leave with a bit of dignity. But Karofsky cried, struggled and in no way actually wanted to die. He felt like he had to.

A few things I’ve been reading have been angry-making. Kurt holding Karofsky’s hand does not mean they are fucking, FYI. Also, Kurt feeling guilty/responsible is normal. NORMAL. We all feel that way, because we like to think we can control stuff, but also because we are broken, and not always kind, even frankly stellar human beings like Kurt.

Kurt feeling guilty  and voicing it is not victim-blaming. Kurt and Dave have been hurt by the same thing: a society that sees homophobia as a good, positive thing. Dave may have acted on it and hurt Kurt, but we can see now how much he was hurting himself too.

Running out of time, so I’m going to skip Quinn and Sue for now. And Sebastian.

I wanted to talk about Will.  don’t have the same hate for Will a lot of other people seem to have. And I’m frankly disgusted by the reaction to his story about his own suicidal thoughts. There is a pretty big step between thoughts and action, but it’s a small step too. You don’t get to say whether or not their reasons for despair are valid.

It’s pretty clear that Will was a dork in school. The girl he wanted would never look his way. He was in glee. He had a lot of expectations of himself if getting caught cheating was something he really couldn’t face. I think one of the messages of Glee is that we don’t have to be perfect to be a positive force in the world. Will isn’t perfect, but he has created a safe space for a lot of people. He tried, if you’ll remember, to bring Dave Karofsky into the fold too.

Imagine if Dave had joined glee.

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8 thoughts on “On My Way

  1. I think that mainly what bothered me about Kurt blaming himself was not that it shouldn’t be shown like that– of course he was blaming himself, it’s a totally natural response — but that we didn’t see Burt or Blaine or Will take him aside and tell him that it is not his responsibility to save Karofsky and it wasn’t his responsibility to prevent this from happening.

    I actually loved the Will scene. I think that one of the things about suicide is that, as Quinn showed, if you haven’t felt that way, it’s really hard to understand why people do. And often it’s for reasons that seem trivial to other people. I’m not always the biggest Will fan, but I thought this was his best teaching moment on the show.

  2. I have been thinking about why we weren’t shown someone telling Kurt that. And honestly, I think that is one of the reasons he went to the “God Squad”. He knew that exactly what the people closest to him would tell him. Hell, he has probably been telling himself the same thing. I think he wanted to really feel the guilt as a way to work through it. Xtian kids, probably a good place to go with when you need guilt.

    Also, truth be told sometimes the “It’s not your fault” can be really invalidating. If on some level you know this, you are going to avoid people who will give you that message.

  3. I have to say I’m pretty irritated with the “Kurt held his hand, Kurtofsky is endgame” things I’ve seen, too. (And, as you know, I like to go to Kurtofsky places in my head sometimes, so…) It bothers me because it AGAIN reduces to stupid fandom shipping what is the big, RL point of the hospital scene: that human connection is a great succor, and that compassion heals both those who give and receive it.

    I, for one, don’t need to see anyone tell Kurt not to feel guilty (other than Karofsky, who does, explicitly, with reasons); Kurt takes 3 days to work this through on his own, and I think he comes to that conclusion on his own. (Though it breaks my heart to note that — based on clothing worn during the montage scene, David called Kurt THAT DAY and I can see how that would mess with Kurt’s head) It was really important to me that he didn’t RUSH to David’s bedside, but waited and waited and waited until he could handle it.

    He tells the God Squad, “After everything that we’ve been through, I didn’t have anywhere else to go.” Almost as if that space were a confessional, and he could reveal secrets he couldn’t tell the outside world. I’m not sure, for instance, that he told Blaine about Karofsky asking him out; he sure as hell didn’t tell his DAD, the other person with whom he could conceivably have had this conversation.

    And Nellie, above, is right: “It’s not your fault” is tantamount to being told, “You’re feeling this WRONG,” and that is never what we want to be told when we are in the midst of pain and confusion.

  4. I think Kurt’s feelings of guilt are immense. To figure he probably thought David was calling to continue the conversation from Valentine’s Day–and Kurt perhaps didn’t want to lead David on . . . and here David was calling to get help from the only person who truly knew what he was going through. I can imagine how, between the secret admirer and the later phone calls, it would be difficult for Kurt to unload his feelings to Burt or Blaine.

  5. There’s a difference between why we weren’t *shown* anyone telling Kurt that it wasn’t his responsibility, and why Kurt went to the God Squad, though. One is a narrative choice, the other is a character choice. Sure, it makes sense for Kurt to seek out people he thinks will be more forgiving of Karofsky, and people who won’t tell him that it’s not his responsibility. It would also make sense for Burt to seek Kurt out to speak to him about his sense of responsibility, or for his boyfriend to tell him that he does not need to feel guilty, or even for his stepmother, whose first husband committed suicide, to tell him that it’s not his fault. The show chose to portray one rather than the other, which left the narrative rather weighted towards the side of guilt and responsibility.

  6. //Will isn’t perfect, but he has created a safe space for a lot of people. He tried, if you’ll remember, to bring Dave Karofsky into the fold too.

    Imagine if Dave had joined glee.//

    Honestly, for me, that is one of the *more* screwed-up things that Will and Bieste have done as educators, in that they deliberately forced a bunch of bullied kids into working with the very people who bullied them, thus making that safe space less safe. (And given the things he lets the kids get away with saying and doing to each other, that space isn’t that safe in the first place.) I’m pretty sure there’s a way to validate the good in people who do bad things without forcing their victims to act friendly with them. (And without using your authority as a coach to force the entire football team to participate in other clubs and school activities that aren’t related to their sport–making kids do something they don’t enjoy isn’t really any greater for morale. And given that Bieste made them participate in the musical as well, it wasn’t even a one-time dealing-with-recent-events kind-of-punishment thing so much as Bieste abusing her power.)

    Honestly, I like very few things about the Karofsky storyline, but one of the few things that works for me is that people telling him “I accept you!” when he was still actively doing shitty things didn’t actually work, because a major part of him getting to a place of self-acceptance involved him taking responsibility for his actions and realizing that they weren’t actually acceptable (which has to do both with finding himself as an individual person, acceptable, and with realizing that gay people, including him, deserve to exist). I don’t like much about Karofsky the character, either, but his evolving consciousness of exactly how severe his past actions were is one of them.

    IMO, Will saying they were all too hard on Karofsky because they were afraid he would hurt Kurt was one of the major missteps in this episode, because part of the point of last season was that *no one* was particularly hard on him (except Sue, who expelled him for the death threat, which wasn’t unduly harsh), which made the environment so unsafe for Kurt that he had to leave it, because Karofsky actually *was* hurting Kurt. Will in particular, as you pointed out, offered Karofsky validation and acceptance.

    The larger point–that somebody, should have noticed that his behavior was symptomatic of emotional problems rather than just rootless acting out–is well-taken, and is something that I’ve been saying for a long time (Karofsky/therapy, all the way), but framing it in that way was really screwed up, especially since “acceptance! thinking happy thoughts! not being hard on bullies!” was the suggested course of action rather than therapy, which wasn’t mentioned at all. If we follow the train of thought that the McKinley administration was “too hard” on Karofsky, it leads pretty obviously to the course of not doing a damn thing about the bullying that Karofsky was subjected to at his new school, because who knows what those bullies are going through?

  7. It’s no doubt because you followed this up so quickly with the post re: gender, outing, Santana, Dave etc., but I am FASCINATED at how few comments there are on this post.

    Fascinated.

  8. Those last two paragraphs make an excellent point. I feel warmer about both Dave and the storyline than you do, but “too hard on him”? They weren’t, at all, and after the Sebastian/eye business, this forms a disturbing pattern. DID Sue even expel him? Maybe I’m remembering wrongly, but I thought he changed schools over the summer, of his own accord.

    The message seems to be “Bullies just hate themselves!” and sure, some do, but even then, simply tolerating harassment isn’t a problem-solver. Kurt and Blaine, and then Will and Bieste and Finn, tried to reach out to Dave (flawed as some of those moves were); Emma is and was a free guidance counselor if he had decided to try therapy. He wasn’t ready. Sure, the educators feel guilty about the suicide attempt, and that’s understandable if not rational, but I think the “hard on him” line specifically turned that scene into a problematic message.

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