What is wrong with Blaine Anderson?

Trigger warning. Because it seems these days, we’re all about the blangst, and blangst is triggery. 

People are asking and writing a lot about Blaine at the moment. I suppose with “Big Brother” imminent, there was bound to be some speculation, but I’m not sure we’ve ever explored another character in Glee with this much fervor.

Mostly, people are doing an excellent job of answering: What is wrong with Blaine Anderson?

How about a roundup?

Blaine is bakla.
biyuti (for an actual explanation, read these or Wikipedia)

But there are so many things about him that read so femininely to me, or are just weird little narrative clues — the Sadie Hawkins thing for one.  And I think in college he may go through a big, long, possibly messy questioning phase…
Letters from Titan Tumblr

So we see him want to bury whatever it was that was bothering him and just do something else. But then we get the song choice, which is meant to be “inspirational,” and this is where Blaine gets really weird.

“Cough Syrup” is about someone who is drowning, who’s completely out of control; it’s about someone finding solace in getting high off of drinking cough syrup. Why is that “inspirational”? Of course Blaine has made completely odd choices about songs before. If he was thinking about “Cough Syrup” as a competition number, then we can compare it to his equally-strange choice of “Candles” for regionals last year, when he just started dating Kurt. Just like “Cough Syrup,” “Candles” served the role of providing commentary on others’ issues, but in canon, the song is still selected by Blaine because it’s “emotional.” Does he just not know how to interpret lyrics? And why does he pick such wrenching songs—such depressing ones—for a competition venue? The other characters don’t seem to make bizarre choices like this. So what’s going on there?
So Thinky (emphasis mine)

I think the gender stuff is so interesting because I see it in Kurt. But then Blaine comes along and he’s so often more feminine than Kurt ever was, but in strange, tiny ways that almost don’t matter but totally do. Like, in the things-you-can-list-on-paper ways, Blaine is a b-o-y boy. He hangs out with the boys when Kurt is with the girls (most of the time). He dresses in a masculine (albeit queered) way. He gets angry and hits a heavy bag. But then there’s Sadie Hawkins and,well, Blaine, a lot of the time just feels feminine.

But the one thing everyone seems able to agree on is that something is wrong with Blaine Anderson. Is he depressed? Does he have PTSD? Was he showing a history of self-harm or suicidal ideation when he rubbed his wrists while Mr Schuester was talking to the club about suicide? Are his parents as unsupportive as he thinks they are? Is he puzzled about his gender identity and feeling unable to explore that like when he had a peek at bisexuality last year? What’s his brother going to be like?

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20 thoughts on “What is wrong with Blaine Anderson?

  1. I don’t think I have anything else useful to say both because I’ve been talking about this all day and for weeks and weeks on end. But, dude, SOMETHING (probably multiple somethings) is going on there. The questions are: what? and will Glee ever tell us?

  2. //There are, as far as I can tell, two ways to read the Sadie Hawkins dance information. The first is that because this involved non-traditional asking out behavior, that made Blaine feel comfortable with asking another boy to the event. But that interpretation, while the simpler of the two options, actually requires a greater leap of logic to make work as opposed to the more complex, but I suspect more accurate, interpretation: Blaine’s habit is to imagine himself as the one to get asked out, the one to be courted.//

    Maybe the better place to ask this would be in the original comments to this article, but since DeconGlee is bringing the conversation here: can you explain how the former interpretation requires a greater leap of logic than the latter? And also how this lead to interpreting Blaine as questioning his gender identity?

    Because as far as I can see, the original supposition (that Blaine’s habit is to imagine himself as the one to be courted) doesn’t integrate the following pieces of canon: 1) Blaine doesn’t actually say that Sadie Hawkins was supposed to be a date – the boy he asked was “a friend of mine, the only other gay boy in the school”, which seems to indicate that Blaine’s courting preferences didn’t really enter into it at all, and 2) when Blaine thought Sebastian was romantically interested in him, he didn’t wait for Sebastian to court him – he courted Sebastian with a song that explicitly positioned Sebastian in a feminine role (“baby girl”).

    And in that same article, you very deliberately *didn’t* connect your reading of Blaine’s courting preferences with gender identity because of the potential for reinforcing binary gender ideas by assuming that preferring the “feminine” role in romantic relationships (or rather, in some arenas of romantic relationships) means that one necessarily has a feminine gender identity, so I’m wondering what led you towards connecting the two ideas, or if there’s anything more concrete (or even abstract) in canon that influenced your interpretation of Blaine’s gender identity.

    Given that you said above that you’re talked-out about this, you really don’t have to answer this if you don’t want to. (Obviously nobody has to answer anything if they don’t want to, but I don’t want you to worry that you’re coming off as rude if you don’t respond to a directly reply to you. Hopefully I’m not coming off as rude by asking you to talk about your reading when you’re saying you don’t have anything useful to say–it’s your reading, so you do seem like the ideal person to ask.) Or if you’ve answered these questions elsewhere and just want to point me towards those discussions, that would be great.

  3. Hey, I’m about to leave (like really, in 10 hours) on a ridiculous 50-day trip, wherein I will have Internet access and will answer this, but it might take me a bit because everything between now and destination one sometime on Sunday is airplanes and chaos.

    Also, the biggest problem for me right now, re: Blaine and this topic is, that was written write after that episode, and there’s more data now, so things bend, if that makes sense (it may not, it’s like 4am, and again, big travel chaos!) But it’s like I need to go back and reassemble all these time sensitive reactions into a cohesive whole (and, also, to answer your question, try to remember what I was thinking at the time).

    So, no worries. I will come back to this, when my mind is probably fresher than it is now. Just wanted to acknowledge before I crash for a few hours.

  4. After I tossed out the quick post, I’ve mulling it over and I like my theory even more. Partially because it decouples the Blaine’s portrayal from occurrences in glee which are important but not sufficient on their own to really work through this.

    I do realize that Blaine and Darren Criss are two different people and that Blaine may end up being white washed. This isn’t quite about that.

    A lot of what Racheline has pointed out isn’t just events like the Sadie Hawkins business but also Blaine’s mannerisms, facial expressions, etc. The things that Darren Criss uses to convey the character Blaine.

    It makes perfect sense to me that DC would have some non-eurocentric notions of gayness since he does have a Filipina mom and grew up in SF where there is a large Filipin@ community. I’ve heard him speak Tagalog (not very well, but still), so he does have some sincere connection to his mom’s culture. And if he is like many a Filipin@ child raised in the diaspora, he like thinks that bakla just means gay.

    Meaning, that when these notions of being gay are floating around in his brain when it comes time to act out Blaine, we end up getting some interesting things. I find all of this interesting to me, not because I think anything is ‘up’ with Blaine but because he really is a character that makes perfect sense to me.

    Conclusion: DC informs and influences how Blaine is portrayed, it isn’t just direction and writing. And if we remove race from the discussion to only focus on details in the plot, we’ll miss an important contribution for understanding glee.

  5. Oh. And the wikipedia article is probably a better start than my own personal musing on my gender, which I don’t think necessarily apply to Blaine. In my brain he seems a bit more fluid instead of agender.

  6. My biggest fear in all this is that when we finally get to the “Big Brother” episode, the most we will get is that Cooper is hotter, more talented–and straight–so Daddy approves of him more. I fear we won’t get in depth backstory vis a vis Blaine’s gender identity issues, since the episode that comes before this one was focused on David being outed. And we know the “Big Brother” episode will carry other major stories, like whatever has happened to Quinn, Finchel’s marriage (or not marriage), and probably five other plots, as usual. Regardless, it’s amazing how, given the tiny moments we got of Blaine in “On My Way” there was just so much do DO with them! And I agree with biyuti that there are many fascinating choices Darren is making. In fact I’d love to hear more of his own head canon on Blaine . . .

  7. Hmm… I suppose I could do up a full post on my headcannon Blaine… I’m always surprised that any cares what I think about glee (or anything, for that matter).

    And, I realize I elsewhere stated a lack of preference but your making is making me realize that I’d prefer the pronouns they, them, their. A note for the future! 😀

  8. Seriously, I did a lot of googling after I saw your post on this, and I was like, “Oh, that solves EVERYTHING.”

    I get frustrated enough by the trans/cis dichotomy for myself, because they both feel really not accurate to me, and it was even more frustrating when trying to explain what I felt like I was seeing in a fictional character who a) seems to hide a lot and b) is still feeling his way around about identity. And then I read the explanations of bakla and was like, “Oh, wow, that solves every problem of ‘I don’t have the right words/categories for this'” so thank you so much.

  9. You are very welcome.

    It was very much a light bulb in my brain too. Particularly in finally being able to articulate my own identity but also why I’m so committed to Blaine as a character. It also very ably points out just why and how Blaine is not a very coherent character if he becomes white washed. His characterization by Darren Criss, I truly believe, does partially depend on his heritage and having an understanding of queerness that exists outside of the usual western narratives of sexuality. This also tends to be what I find missing in most of the fanfic I read, because the characterization of most writers often express an entirely euro-centric narrative for sexuality and gender.

    I also think it is important to remember that DC is mixed and grew up in the states, because a lot of the contradictions embodied by Blaine are inherent with a person so indelibly marked by hybridity.

    Wow. I think I really need to write up a longer post on this.

  10. I might put this out there—Letters of titan wrote a wonderful article discussing the possibility that Blaine was molested as a child given his rather undeveloped take on sex. What if it was this brother we’re going to meet. Even if he didn’t abuse him sexually, maybe he was emotionally abusive and as such has a severe inferiority complex

  11. I feel like Blaine, like a lot of children who come from unhappy homes, tries his best to make everyone around him happy. He reaches out to make things better for others, he wants to sing to cheer them up, and a lot of his self-worth is tied to making other people happy. He does tend to bottle his own feelings till he just can’t anymore, and I think he’s also quick to judge others who won’t do the same (which is why I’d really like to see him interact with Santana).

    He was able to be happy with the Warblers, but McKinley is a genuinely depressing place. None of this is his fault, but the fact that there is nothing he can do to make things better must weigh on him. I think his mood is quite dependent on those around him because he’s not really able to connect with himself.

    I would really, really like to know how Blaine feels about Kurt leaving. There’s a marked contrast between how Kurt approaches Karofsky in On My Way, and Blaine in Michael – in the aftermath of the slushy, Kurt’s feelings are focused on himself, having no company, having no Valentine. I feel like there’s an assumption that Blaine does not need that kind of care because he so often acts like a mini-adult, but it’s apparent in scenes like the auditorium one in The First Time how surprising yet welcome it is to him when he gets it.

    I think he’s quite capable of coping and being happy without any external intervention, but there are things that lurk under the surface and threaten to pop up when he leasts expects them to. He’s very human, this boy.

  12. As someone who doesn’t understand the appeal and is frankly bored by Blaine most of the time, I am finding this conversation really compelling.

    But as much as I’d like to think ANY of the rather intense and not-so-accessible-to-mainstream-viewers ideas that you guys are putting out there might get address on/by Glee, I am doubtful.

    As an outsider (ie, non-Klainer), I would be interested to hear anyone else’s take on what feels to me like a lack of Kurt/Blaine relationship oomph during this cycle of winter episodes — I know that DC was out for basically 2 episodes, but there seem to have been an indreasing number of hints that these two boys seem to have reached some sort of communications breakdown:

    1) Valentine’s debacle in which Kurt was under the impression Blaine was behind the cards/attention;
    2) Karofsky suicide aftermath, in which Kurt unburdens himself to the God Squad rather than his boyfriend (lots of reasons for that, but it was still a choice made by the writers and it would have been a really revealing scene, IMO);
    3) Blaine’s conversations/internet interaction with Sebastian prior to Michael;
    4) Blaine’s increasing display of anger/hostility without seeming to be sharing the motivation with Kurt.

    I’m not asking to gleefully suggest, “Oooh, they’re breaking up!” but just wondering what people who really examine Blaine and the Klaine relationship might be thinking about these things, and if your guess is that this might be addressed the upcoming BB episode.

  13. My secret hope for the apparent lack of communication between the two is that the writers are actually attempting to normalize a gay relationship on the screen. Having a stable (thus, narratively boring) gay relationship would be genuinely radical.

    I’d be thrilled if their relationship fades into the background like Mike and Tina’s so that the magic of Klaine can always stay alive in my heart/imagination. (mainly because glee tens to ruin all the things I love whenever it deals with them directly).

  14. Sorry about my antecedent problem . . . I meant Darren’s head canon for Blaine, thus “his.” 😉 I recall interviews he did last year, where we spoke about what he thought Blaine was thinking during the eps leading up to “Original Song,” but it seems like we don’t get many Darren interviews about Blaine lately–but I bet he will do some before “Big Brother” hits the air.

  15. @so thinky fair enough. I’d love to know how Darren approaches Blaine the character. I’d really, really like to know. How does he get into character? How does he conceptualize Blaine’s queerness?

  16. I don’t think that Kurt thinking that Blaine was behind the secret admirer is a communication breakdown. In my mind, it was the only logical conclusion in Kurt’s mind, so he wouldn’t even have asked Blaine directly about it because he just thought he know. He might have made coy comments and Blaine would have just wondered what he was going on about, but I don’t think it logically would have been something they’d have discussed more than that pre-Valentine’s Day. Of course, in my head, they had a big discussion on/right after Valentine’s Day.

    I would have loved to see Kurt talking to Burt and Blaine about the suicide thing, and I have thought about it. I don’t think you’ll agree with my perspective, necessarily. 🙂 Personally I don’t really see Kurt or Karofsky as friends, nor do I want them to be. I see some disturbing undercurrents in the idea of them becoming friends only over this — for example, will Kurt ever feel like he can ignore a call from Karofsky in the next few months, no matter what he wants? I know opinion on this can vary greatly. I suspect that Burt and Blaine would share that perspective somewhat, since they are both people who love Kurt and look out for him first — I’m not saying that they wouldn’t have compassion for Karofsky’s situation, but they might be a bit more pushy than about Kurt not needing to get involved than Kurt would necessarily want. Kurt is ridiculously compassionate, and if there’s any chance he can be helpful, he’s going to do that. The God Squad wasn’t going to start questioning him about what the best decision for him would be, nor did they seem interested in trying to convince him that it wasn’t his fault and trying to absolve him of that guilt. I don’t think that was what he wanted right then.

    I hope that makes sense. I know your perspective as to Karofsky is a bit different, and I really don’t want to sound like I’m slamming the character. I just have a lot of opinions and personal experience about teenagers feeling like they need to save their mentally ill friends, and I think it would be much better for both of them if Karofsky had someone he was already friends with to support him. Of course, it seems like part of the problem is that he doesn’t — I just think that Burt and Blaine would put Kurt before Karofsky because that’s who they love. That’s not Kurt, though, and he’s a really strong and selfless person, so I shouldn’t inject too much cynicism there.

    In terms of Sebastian, my impression was that Sebastian kept calling Blaine and Blaine was too polite — something he needs to work on — to ignore him, not that he was initiating contact, but that’s one of those things that is subject to a million interpretations. Similarly, my assumption is that he and Kurt are talking. I’d rather have seen them talking than seen another Finn/Rachel scene, but I do (yes choose to) assume that they are.

    I don’t know that much about the Big Brother episode, but I hope they’re building up to something. He does seem like something’s going on, so hopefully Glee can follow through with that.

  17. @biyuti Yes, yes–all of it! Darren has talked about where Blaine’s mind was leading up to “Original Song,” and he’s talked about how, mostly because of Blaine’s appearance (his hair primarily), Darren felt like he had to “get into character” more so than other actors on the show, who “looked” like their characters more. Of course, I think that interview was back when he first started on the show, when he was still perhaps getting used to his short hair . . . So essentially we haven’t seen him talk much about Blaine’s queerness, and how he interprets that in his acting.

  18. Erin, don’t worry: you’re totally civilized vis-a-vis Karofsky, so I don’t take offense just because our opinions on him or his & Kurt’s friendship vary!

    But yeah, pretty much whatever you’re saying, I’m thinking the opposite! 😉

  19. //So, no worries. I will come back to this, when my mind is probably fresher than it is now.//

    Because of the wonky replies here, I can’t respond directly to your reply, but I just wanted to say great, I’m looking forward to it.

    Also, in my reply, I accidentally referred to Jeremiah as Sebastian, so I just wanted to correct that now–when Blaine thought Jeremiah was romantically interested in him, he didn’t wait for Jeremiah to court him – he courted Sebastian with a song that explicitly positioned Jeremiah in a feminine role (“baby girl”).

  20. I’ve always felt definite touches of queerness regarding Blaine’s gender identity. I think his femininity isn’t the stereotypical gay male femininity, it comes across as gendered femininity. As a Trans Guy I have spent an incredibly long time trying to push any female gender traits out of myself and to be honest I pick up on a few within Blaine.
    I have always felt Blaine will probably one day have a gender regarding meltdown probably in college where he becomes exposed to the idea of queerness.
    However these are just my musings.

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