S3 E20&21: Props and Nationals

Things that aren’t props: The knife Beiste keeps under her pillow at night. Tina. Unique. Kurt. Puck.

Things that are props: Puck’s switchblade. Slushy cups full of confetti (at least they were when they sang Loser Like Me).

Things that don’t last: being winners at McKinley

My random shallow thoughts are here.

The thing with Glee is that airing two episodes together makes sense. In fact, watching the entire season/show-to-date in a single week would probably be significantly more enlightening than the way we have to watch it week by hiatus by week.

In the spirit of that, allow me to say a couple things.

  • the season isn’t over yet
  • calm down/cheer up
  • Glee isn’t over yet. Remember the ENTIRE SEASON WHERE THEY IGNORED QUINN’S BABY?

Jane Lynch can be my teacher of the year anytimeYes, there is some weird shit happening. Try not to take it to heart. Remember when Santana’s storyline was dropped? Gloria Estefan who?

Responses to issues I’m seeing fandom raise:

1. I think we’re going to have some yummy Klaine in the next ep. And yeah, honestly, I would like to see Kurt push Blaine up against the baby grand and have a good, sound snog, but there are still very good points to be made about safety (and yes! Let’s talk about how safety is relative and often depends on gender conformity, eh, Brittana). Also, did anyone notice how Tina equated “making out” with “sex” when she recounted her dream to Rachel? Let’s talk about “unscheduled make out sessions” now. 

2. I want Unique at McKinley for season 4. I mean, obviously not for her, but for me, and for the show. I expect when that happens, we’ll see the he/she usage being dealt with appropriately. I mean, imagine. A regularly featured trans character. One can only hope they’ll do better  than the myriad other shows on American network tv with young trans characters. Also, Alex Newell’s acting was wonderful in this ep.

3. Will is a pedo/Emma’s wrong to sleep with him/He doesn’t deserve teacher of the year. All of this is bullshit. Will isn’t perfect. He’s deeply flawed. But somehow, he understands enough to give the kids space and support to achieve their dreams. He’s been in love with Emma for over 2 years. It hasn’t been perfect, but she does seem pretty happy with him. And he’s not sexually inappropriate with students (Beiste has said things that are worse than anything you can pin on Will). And why isn’t anyone giving out over the fact that he only lost patience with Sue’s “Porcelina” plan when it involved Puck?

I pointed this out on Tumblr, but Blaine has some cross-dressing cues that follow him around. While Sue is using trans* words when trying to solicit Kurt’s compliance in her grand scheme to copy Vocal Adrenaline’s Unique-factor, Blaine says “cross-dresser”. He also has some interesting facial expressions when Puck asks Sue if she really thinks a guy in drag will help them win — in fact, he’s in the foreground of the scene. Also, who can forget that A MAN IN A DRESS IS DEAD. And he has J. Edgar Hoover’s biography in his room. (h/t to Tumblr CSI). You must read Racheline’s (ambiguous) reaction fic on Tumblr.

I’m really interested in a New Directions lead by Blaine and Tina. How will we react to ambition in Blaine-form as opposed to the fandom vitriol that has met Rachel’s determination? I really enjoyed the clarification that Rachel does actually work harder than the others can even imagine to be who she is. Because I think it’s been said throughout, but a lot of people have not understood. Rachel is only a star, and nothing else. No Facebook, no Twitter, just MySpace, where she once thought she’d find fame.

The flowers given in Nationals were white — a white rose (barely opened) representing girlhood — given from Kurt to Unique. Emma (I assume) left a white orchid on Will’s desk. There is also half a fake apple on his desk. Honestly? It looks like he had fake apples on his desk, and they sawed one in half to make his award. Oh, McKinley.

White flowers are all about new beginnings. Bring on Graduation.

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16 thoughts on “S3 E20&21: Props and Nationals

  1. After “Props,” I’m definitely more interested in Tina, and I like thinking about her and Blaine. They’re both polite, willing to be team players . . . And even though Blaine had a lot of solos with the Warblers, I don’t think he was ever their “leader.” Blaine definitely liked, I think, the order of the leadership there (the comfort of that). Tina seems to accept her so-called “place” with reluctance, while Blaine wants someone to tell him what to do. Tina has definite dreams, but Blaine’s seem amorphous still. They don’t seem to be friends currently, so I’m curious about that, too. Really, neither of them seem to be close to anyone other than their significant others.

    Love the gender things surrounding Blaine; just don’t know where it’s heading.

    Hated that Emma’s virginity is a gift to Will for his accomplishments.

  2. //calm down/cheer up
    Glee isn’t over yet. Remember the ENTIRE SEASON WHERE THEY IGNORED QUINN’S BABY?
    Yes, there is some weird shit happening. Try not to take it to heart. //

    Hmm. I think the thing is that you’re working off the assumption that, with Quinn’s reaction to Beth and with many of the things Glee does, they are “playing the long game.” But I think a fair question to ask is, if fandom hadn’t freaked out in the first place, would Beth really have come up again? If fans hadn’t been pestering the writers on Twitter, would we have had the Brittany/Santana PDA storyline in “Heart”? Would the Kurt/Finn thing have come up during “Duets” if someone hadn’t asked about it at Comic-Con after season one? The writers really make no secret of the fact that they react to the fandom, sometimes with throwaway meta lines, and sometimes with whole storylines. So the assumption that everyone’s concerns will be addressed *even if they don’t raise them*, as opposed to *because* they raise them, is, I think, a flawed one.

    I think you’re also working off the assumption that Glee is not meant to be reacted to episodically, although, as I pointed out in the comments to your “Choke” review, a) it’s an episodic tv show, so people react to it’s form in pretty much the way they’re supposed to, and b) you also react to the show episodically. You just tend to assume that issues will be addressed in the future (“I think we’re going to have some yummy Klaine in the next ep.”, “I expect when that happens, we’ll see the he/she usage being dealt with appropriately.”), whereas many other fans and critics are reacting to what is occurring right now, rather than anticipating (or they’re going the other way and anticipating that they won’t be addressed, which is neither a more nor less informed prediction than your own). Neither is the wrong way of reacting to show, but neither is the correct way, either. They’re just different. For my part, I’m fairly sure we’re supposed to take what happens in each episode to heart, even if whatever emotion or opinion is raised is entirely reversed in the next episode–Bieste leaving her husband wouldn’t mean a whole lot if the audience had no emotional reaction to her staying with him in “Choke”, Rachel winning would mean less if the audience had no emotional reaction to her losing in “Choke”.

    //Emma’s wrong to sleep with him.//

    For me, as with so thinky above, the issue isn’t really Emma’s decision to sleep with Will. It’s the framing and timing of that decision, which positions Emma’s virginity as a prize in the same way that the Nationals award is a prize or Will winning teacher of the year is a prize. Hell, Emma literally said that it was a matter of Will “deserving” to be “treated like a winner”. I said on here a long time ago that the framing around Emma’s virginity grossed me out–“The Emma thing in particular (tying her squeamishness about sex into her illness, and having Will be the one who encourages/shames her into “fixing” herself) is really gross–Will’s “reward” for being a “good guy” is ultimately going to be sex with Emma, and in particular it’s going to be Emma “giving” him her virginity.” And while it didn’t play out quite as I thought it would, the framing of Emma’s virginity as a reward for Will is still there, and continues to be gross, just as Rachel “giving” her virginity to Finn to prove to him how special he is was gross. If they were real women making their own decisions, that would be one thing, but they aren’t. They’re the product of writers who made choices to frame both of those transactions in that way.

    //He doesn’t deserve teacher of the year. //

    The whole thing raises the question: is Glee Club a class now instead of a club? Is Schue a teacher or a faculty adviser? (And how do his Spanish/History students feel about this?)

  3. Hmm. I think the thing is that you’re working off the assumption that, with Quinn’s reaction to Beth and with many of the things Glee does, they are “playing the long game.” But I think a fair question to ask is, if fandom hadn’t freaked out in the first place, would Beth really have come up again?

    Around the same time, there was a lot of “they’re destroying Quinn’s character, OMG what is up with her, she’s not herself at all.” and really, nobody put that together with the “dropped” plotline, which seems a bit unfortunate of us all. Because she gave up a baby for adoption, then went into a year-long downward spiral and then it came up again.

    Honestly? I’m taking Glee with a giant chill pill these days, because I’m getting sick of me and everyone else getting in a twist over something that will be resolved in the next episode. Like, that was kind of why I started this blog, that things in Glee were bothering me. But mostly, I’ve found that they’ve worked those things out rather well. I’ve got to the point, honestly, where I’m willing to wait until the end of the game to comment on the score. I like how they do it. I enjoy that I feel uncomfortable about things in a way that feels intentional (Quinn being able to dance at Nationals)(Rachel’s and Emma’s decisions to use sex to reward/comfort their men).

    As regards Klaine affection, I’ve moved from being one of the ones shouting in the corner about homophobia and FOX and censors to actually quite appreciating how they limit their PDA but manage to out-sexualise Klaine compared to every other couple on the show. Nobody else has sexual content like Klaine has.

    I don’t know whether Glee is a class/club (although I can’t imagine it mattered — I’ve seen my band teachers win awards and it was just an extracurricular). Did anyone pay any attention to his competition? The retiring teacher who has some very serious issues (and who Figgins bade “go softly into that good night” as she left the stage). McKinley dstroys teachers the way middle schools normally do. They’ve haven’t killed Will yet, so he gets a plaque with a bright red apple on it (taken from his desk apparently). You could say Beiste, maybe, but the football team seem to be up to a whole lot of nothing, and have lost power in the school to the hockey team. The cheerios also seem to be held in stasis, so that rules Roz Washington out.

    Bieste leaving her husband wouldn’t mean a whole lot if the audience had no emotional reaction to her staying with him in “Choke”, Rachel winning would mean less if the audience had no emotional reaction to her losing in “Choke”.

    Absolutely — but at no point did anyone suspect the writers were going to leave either of those plot points alone. They think that for some things, but not others. But we can react and still not string the writers up for being assholes, incompetent, homophobic, misogynist, which is what I see people doing on several plot points. I agree that we’re supposed to feel the reaction to those things, and we’re supposed to enjoy the reaction we have. That reaction is intentional. That’s why I think the whole Epic Threatre analysis is actually very helpful, because it would lead us to believe it’s not just the obvious things (we feel uncomfortable that a woman stays with her abusive husband because she doesn’t think anyone will love her) but also the not-obvious (we really wish our OTP would be able to kiss in the halls and we feel homophobia is to blame (it is, but probably not the way we’re freaking out about it).

  4. The writers really make no secret of the fact that they react to the fandom, sometimes with throwaway meta lines, and sometimes with whole storylines.

    When I think of the things that seem to be reactions to the fandom (and we can’t reallyy know for sure), I think that asking for what you want is not a good idea. When something seems like a throwaway line, it reads as “fuck you for telling us how to do our job” – e.g. “Stop making out with Berry” – in the same scene that makes it very explicit that Rachel and Quinn have never even been friends, that Rachel doesn’t see Quinn as a person (they really couldn’t make it any clearer even to people who never payed any attention to their relationship) or Jane Lynch and Matt Bomer kissing (a gay kiss people are asking for all the time – I thought it was hilarious).

    I actually really love how they show how wrong the framing of women giving up virginity/having sex as a prize is and that they make it look even more disgusting than in TFT. And that they made a parallel to the most toxic couple on the show (unless you think Wemma is the more dysfunctional one – which I do, but most people think it is Finchel).

  5. //When something seems like a throwaway line, it reads as “fuck you for telling us how to do our job” – e.g. “Stop making out with Berry” – in the same scene that makes it very explicit that Rachel and Quinn have never even been friends, that Rachel doesn’t see Quinn as a person (they really couldn’t make it any clearer even to people who never payed any attention to their relationship)//

    I’m not really sure it’s as clear as you think it is. Especially with the resolution of that story, where Quinn decides that she *should* be the person that Rachel thinks of her as, the “humbled but inspiring Quinn” who wants to leave school having made a difference–for Rachel, in the same way Rachel told her she’s happy to leave school having found a way to be Quinn’s friend. I have no idea how FaBerry shippers reacted to that scene, but I’d be pretty surprised if they took it as a fuck you, and I think most reviewers took that scene and the relationship between Quinn and Rachel (friends) at face value.

    //I actually really love how they show how wrong the framing of women giving up virginity/having sex as a prize is and that they make it look even more disgusting than in TFT. And that they made a parallel to the most toxic couple on the show (unless you think Wemma is the more dysfunctional one – which I do, but most people think it is Finchel).//

    Can you explicate the way you see them showing how wrong it is? I mean, especially when you’re talking about parallels that we are *shown*, the couple that Finn/Rachel were paralleled with while Rachel lost her virginity was Kurt/Blaine. When Will and Emma had sex for the first time, they were visually paralleled with *all* the couples, all the friendships, all the kids in a triumphant celebration montage. There was nothing suggesting that anything about their relationship, or this particular moment in their relationship, was toxic or disgusting, any moreso than the kids pouring champagne on each other or Rachel being sought out to sign the yearbook of a girl she didn’t know. That whole montage was about things changing for the better because they’re winners now.

    I mean, this is how Ryan Murphy discussed the decision to have Rachel lose her virginity to Finn:
    //Originally, when there was talk this past summer of a Glee spin-off, the thought was that Rachel would lose her virginity after moving to New York. Says Murphy, “Some of the women in the [writer’s] room thought it was crazy and thought we should really give that moment this year to Finn.” (EW)//

    So apparently even in the writer’s room Rachel’s virginity was discussed as something to be “given” to Finn, in the same way they’d discuss giving a character any other awesome moment or a great storyline. There’s really nothing on the show or from the writers that makes me think they meant those moments to be disgusting or problematic at all. It’s only the gap between my values and theirs that creates the discomfort. I’m interesting in hearing about what you’re seeing that makes you think otherwise, though.

  6. 1) “Humbled but inspiring” is an incredibly offensive thing to say. I don’t think it would make Quinn be the person Rachel wants her to be/sees her as – calling someone inspiring is dehumanizing and it seemed clear to me that Rachel never really understood what Quinn went through (that doesn’t mean she didn’t care for her, but they weren’t by any means close). I don’t know if viewers took the scene/relationship at face value, but Glee says something and shows something else all the time. They don’t underestimate their viewers and don’t think that it is necessary to say “And that’s terrible” or show consequences to make sure everyone understands something is wrong.

    2) They often use parallels to emphasize differences – in TFT it was a healthy relationship with good communication and a dysfunctional couple following scripts and assuming (it is well described here for example: http://calanthe-b.livejournal.com/638081.html). I do think the Wemma scene was meant to contrast with the rest – just like the number of straight couples kissing in Prom-asaurus made Klaine not kissing even more obvious. RIB+ are good at making people feel what they want them to feel – and in all episode reactions I read people though the Wemma scene was wrong/disgusting/discordant.

    3) Ryan Murphy is a wonderful troll. I wouldn’t trust anything he says. Just him being gay is a good reason to doubt he sees virginity in this way (or thinks virginity is anything but a social construct – I don’t know any queer people who don’t).

  7. Something I missed about the Wemma scene: http://theperpetuallyunpackingsuitcase.tumblr.com/post/23168910339/purplemixel-look-at-what-emma-is-wearing-when. Clothes mean a lot on the show and they actually make her look like a gift, that was intentionally squicky. In previous episodes when dealing with Emma’s relationship problems, characters used arguments that are often used against queer people and I’m pretty sure the authors don’t think it’s OK or portray it as such (especially as she might be queer – and if she turns out to be, everything will look even more disgusting in hindsight) – they said things like “you just need to find the right person” or “I will try to fix you” (Will said that right after doing this: http://crown-of-weeds.livejournal.com/26333.html#cutid1 and while I didn’t know how wrong it was or why until I read the article, I could say it was a horrible thing to do – there are a lot more things I can’t remember that show their relationship is not healthy.)

    As for the authors’ reactions to fandom, I like this post though the tone is a bit harsh: http://tiktokofoz.tumblr.com/post/23307873894/favorite-glee-fandom-cameos-season-three

  8. Well, and I think this is where you and I, or more broadly, the people who are still bothered by the show (to use your words) and the people who aren’t, really differ. The things that people tend to get most angry and offended about, the things they suspect that the writers are going to leave alone, tend to be the things that you see as intentional, but that others *do not see as intentional at all*. They have no faith in the writers addressing them, because they don’t think the writers are even aware of them; and, at this point, they think that the writers being made aware of fannish rage is the only way that the issues will be addressed, which there is some evidence of. (And, at this point, a lot of fans have lost faith that the writers will address them in a way that is actually satisfying–certainly there weren’t a lot of Tina fans made happy by “Props”.)

    I mean, what about the epic theater analysis leads you to think it’s not just the obvious things, but also the not obvious, that are meant to provoke a reaction, and specifically a reaction of discomfort (rather than some other reaction)? And what about the way Glee engages with these things (or doesn’t) leads you to this interpretation?

    For myself, when you’re talking about the Epic Theater thing, I think there’s a certain amount of truth (or maybe value is a better word) in it, in that Glee is a didactic show. Overall, I find the Epic Theater post you linked to overreaching (or maybe I mean incoherent?) enough that I can’t even really interact with it–some of the specific *examples* she cites, of the techniques of epic theater, are not really in evidence to create the distancing effect epic theater is reaching for, and as she admits in the comments, certainly Glee itself is reaching for emotional engagement and sensation that epic theater does not engage in. There just are not as many points of commonality there as she claims there are, and her argument is based upon that commonality–that these techniques are used to create a distancing effect, which leads the audience to have an intellectual reaction to the action. And I think she jumps to the conclusion that the “unsettled” feeling she gets from some storylines is because of these techniques of epic theater, which, as I said, I don’t really see much in evidence or as provoking the same reaction as epic theater itself originally did. (Modern audiences aren’t much distanced by those techniques that are in evidence, I think, because at this point in time we are used to them.)

    But the very bottom foundations of it, that Glee is a show of ideas, a didactic show, as I said above, I certainly agree with, and I think most viewers do. Certainly that’s a point that’s cited by the writers themselves, that Glee is a show about values. Specifically what the writers say is that Glee can be preachy at times (that is, that it’s messages are often direct and obvious), that “the values of it are, I think, great …for young kids”, that “ninety percent of what the show has to say is so positive”; that the world of Glee is often “a utopia” and that every episode should end with the viewer being uplifted (rather than discomfited). That is, they say things that are directly contradictory to the idea that Glee engages in a lot of threads that are non-obvious, or intended for adult viewers with a well-developed sense of (for lack of a better word) social justice values or critical principles that would lead them to feel discomfort at things like the disability politics of Quinn’s storyline or the reasoning behind Emma’s decision to lose her virginity, rather than feeling happy for Quinn that she can dance at Nationals (without worrying about the long-term effects of a spinal injury) or feeling glad that Will and Emma finally had intercourse. I mean, disability = tragedy, recovery from disability = triumph is a common narrative. Men are entitled to sex and virginity is a prize is a common narrative. They’re common enough that merely reproducing them is not, I think, enough to provoke discomfort in most viewers.

    For you, the discomfort provoked is intentional, and is perhaps provoked by those techniques of epic theater. For me, the discomfort I feel at some storylines occurs because of the gap between my own values, and the values in evidence on (or of) the show.

    I mean, when you’re talking about viewers accusing the show of being misogynistic, homophobic, racist, etc., I don’t think you’re actually saying that the show doesn’t reproduce those value systems. But where we differ is whether, in some cases, reproduction is, in and of itself, commentary, or whether it is merely reproduction. For me, the didactic nature of the show actually prevents me from seeing its reproduction of these value systems as commentary, because when the show wants to say something or provoke a certain feeling, it is generally very direct about that, and the thing that leads me to reject some explicit values of the show and not others is my own value system, not anything inherent in the show itself.

    I don’t think *you’re* wrong to engage with the show the way you do, because certainly the idea that the audience is an integral part of the meaning of the show is a valid point of view. But for me, when I’m not the only audience for the show, when the show is directly marketed to children as an inspirational show with good values that shows people as they should be, and when it then reproduces values that are repugnant to me without commentary, that makes me angry. And, obviously, it makes other people angry as well.

  9. //I don’t think it would make Quinn be the person Rachel wants her to be/sees her as – calling someone inspiring is dehumanizing and it seemed clear to me that Rachel never really understood what Quinn went through (that doesn’t mean she didn’t care for her, but they weren’t by any means close).//

    This sort of plays in to my response to DeconstructingGlee above, but: the idea that calling someone inspiring is dehumanizing is coming, I think, from you, not from the show itself. On the show, being called inspiring has a positive value–Quinn herself called Joe inspiring in “Big Brother”, and invited him to join Glee because she felt he would be inspiring to them as well. In general, in American society, being called inspiring is not considered dehumanizing, and there’s nothing in the show itself that suggests that it does not subscribe to this same value system.

    I mean, in my view, Quinn actually affirmed all parts of Rachel’s speech to her. Rachel said that she was still seeing Quinn as the popular cheerleader who has everything, but then came to the conclusion that she was wrong, and now Quinn was humble and inspiring. And in her later speech, Quinn affirmed that she’d had the “dream high school career” and had gotten to be popular and do whatever she want for three years, and then decided to give up the throne to Rachel in order to be “humble and inspiring”, to “make a difference”.

    I’m curious as to how you read Quinn’s reaction, if you didn’t see her as attempting to live up to Rachel’s changed view of her.

    // I don’t know if viewers took the scene/relationship at face value, but Glee says something and shows something else all the time. They don’t underestimate their viewers and don’t think that it is necessary to say “And that’s terrible” or show consequences to make sure everyone understands something is wrong.//

    Here, you’re saying two different things: that Glee often says something and shows something else, but also that Glee often doesn’t show consequences . So if they’re not showing consequences to contrast with speech, what are they showing? And how are they making sure that everyone understands that something is wrong? Or, if they’re not, how do you know that something is supposed to be wrong?

    //They often use parallels to emphasize differences – in TFT it was a healthy relationship with good communication and a dysfunctional couple following scripts and assuming//

    See, I don’t think they were doing that. I think the miscommunication between Kurt and Blaine was supposed to be similar in scale to the miscommunication between Finn and Rachel. Rachel didn’t tell Finn that her sudden decision to have sex was prompted by Artie telling her to get experienced for her role. Blaine didn’t tell Kurt that his 180 turn from wanting to wait to wanting to try new things while they’re young (to get experienced) was prompted by him meeting Sebastian and being intrigued by him. Kurt didn’t tell Blaine that his sudden desire to “try new things” was also prompted by meeting Sebastian, and feeling threatened by him. From the scene in the bedroom until the apology prompted by the scene in the car (where Kurt told Blaine that he either couldn’t tell what Kurt was feeling or he just didn’t care), there wasn’t a lot of open communication between Kurt and Blaine. You could argue that the entire car scene itself was about assumptions (of desire and consent) and following scripts (gay bar superstar vs. romance in a field of lilacs, and then the happy medium they come to in reality). And certainly the Rachel/Finn and Kurt/Blaine scenes at the end involved similar sharing of feelings of insecurity and affirmation.

    I think the contrast we’re actually supposed to be seeing is between the first time Finn/Rachel and Kurt/Blaine attempt to have sex for all the wrong reasons, and with hidden motives, and the second time when they actually succeed after examining their own motives and desires–after realizing that they don’t *have* to have sex for whatever socially approved reason, to be experienced for a role or to impress others, but because they want to.That’s the contrast between dysfunction and assumptions, and communication and health, not the two relationships in toto.

    //RIB+ are good at making people feel what they want them to feel – and in all episode reactions I read people though the Wemma scene was wrong/disgusting/discordant.//

    Yes, they are–in some cases. In others, they end up being surprised by audience reactions–their total surprise at the audience wanting Brittany/Santana to be a real couple instead of a background joke, or at some viewers seeing Kurt as predatory in his pursuit of Finn speaks to that, I think. I’m guessing the episode reactions you’re referring to were largely by members of fandom, who tend to have a feminist critical lens on, not necessarily mainstream reviewers or general audience members.

    //Clothes mean a lot on the show and they actually make her look like a gift, that was intentionally squicky.//

    Emma’s clothes always make her look like a gift–she wears a lot of bows in general. And again, to find it squicky, you have to subscribe to the idea that Emma’s virginity being a prize for Will (or Emma as a whole being a prize for Will) is squicky. I don’t necessarily think that’s coming from the show itself.

  10. 1) I’m not sure what Quinn’s reasons were, maybe they’ll be explained later or I’m missing something. I don’t believe it was what she said in the same scene when she said “we had dream high school careers, doing what we wanted” and sounded serious – because even the most unobservant viewers couldn’t miss her being pregnant at 16, bullied, kicked out of home, depressed and ignored or told to stop making people uncomfortable by shouting for help, hit by a truck…

    2) We probably won’t agree on this one, but it seemed to me that the contrasts were clear. For example – Klaine being comfortable talking about sex openly and not doing it for the first time, establishing mutual consent (also understandably making mistakes and talking about them) – while Finchel obviously don’t talk or listen (e.g. Finn forgets that she’s vegan, there were other moments I don’t remember).

    3) “and there’s nothing in the show itself that suggests that it does not subscribe to this same value system” – there are too many things that make me think that they don’t, so I’ll just link a few articles and blogs (also, I’m busy and might not have time to respond anymore, but I agree with the bloggers on most issues): http://crown-of-weeds.livejournal.com/31887.html; http://crown-of-weeds.livejournal.com/11882.html (including comments – and basically the whole blog and these:http://crown-of-weeds.tumblr.com, http://crownofweeds.tumblr.com, http://yougottaletitout.tumblr.com, http://four-tens.livejournal.com); http://naderegen.tumblr.com/post/18146060091/heres-a-thing-about-bad-writing-and-not-bad; http://needsmoregreen.tumblr.com/post/14037247135/a-thought-on-characterisation.

    4) I don’t think they need to show consequences or say something explicitly for everyone to understand – or that the authors always do/should/have to give an unambiguous moral lesson, telling the viewers what to think. Glee fandom is the first place I even heard these arguments and I was shocked by how much everyone wants characters to be punished and that everyone thinks if they aren’t then the authors approve of the characters’ actions and/or other viewers won’t see them as wrong. I expect that it is a cultural/American thing, because it is a completely new idea and doesn’t make any sense to me, but some of the blogs I linked to address it.

    5) And how do they show something as wrong? I know nothing about storytelling techniques. I do know that many unexpected things seem wrong to people who think feminist is an insult and racist isn’t (practically everyone where I live.) I know that people who saw nothing wrong with characters calling Jean special or Brittany and Becky sweet and innocent don’t see disabled people the same way a few episodes later.

  11. Replying to your second comment here in case you have notifications on. First, the Quinn stuff:

    //in the same scene that makes it very explicit that Rachel and Quinn have never even been friends, that Rachel doesn’t see Quinn as a person (they really couldn’t make it any clearer even to people who never payed any attention to their relationship//

    Before I start responding to your more recent comment, I want to ask, do you still feel this way as of “Goodbye” and the Rachel and Quinn scene in that episode? And as of Quinn’s conclusion that “this school has given us all so many gifts, me especially, and I want my last week here to be about giving back a little of what I got”, directly before she approaches Rachel to offer a long-standing friendship? Her conclusion that “if we hadn’t changed, we would never have been friends”?

    //I’m not sure what Quinn’s reasons were, maybe they’ll be explained later or I’m missing something. I don’t believe it was what she said in the same scene when she said “we had dream high school careers, doing what we wanted” and sounded serious – because even the most unobservant viewers couldn’t miss her being pregnant at 16, bullied, kicked out of home, depressed and ignored or told to stop making people uncomfortable by shouting for help, hit by a truck… //

    I mean, I have to reference the Goodbye scene again. Even in the privacy of her own head, Quinn thinks that “this school has given us so many gifts, especially me”, and sees offering her friendship to Rachel as “giving back a little of what I got.” And her telling Rachel that “if we hadn’t changed, we would never have been friends” seems like a reference to that conversation in Prom-a-saurus where Rachel told her that she had changed and become “humble and inspiring”, and Quinn’s subsequent decision to actually make that change by giving the crown to Rachel because she (Quinn) already has so much.

    Yes, even the most unobservant viewer couldn’t miss the the things that have happened to Quinn. But the overall narrative about Quinn’s problems this year has largely been that yes, she had serious problems—way back in season one. Her problems this year have just been her being “crazy” and dwelling on the past instead of looking towards the future—over and over again the message is that she has her whole life in front of her, she has to let go of the past and start her future, she’s exactly where she’s supposed to be, she should just be grateful for what she has. She just has “rich white girl problems”, she “had a baby at 16 and a bad dye job for two weeks”, her problems were and are minor and temporary and forgettable. She got over her “craziness”, focused on the future, and got into Yale—and in fact her tale of teen pregnancy helped her get in.

    And then she backslid for a moment and was self-pitying about what had happened to her in the past, was smacked down by Kurt for it—and then got hit by a truck. And it would be nice to think that those two events aren’t connected (although if they weren’t, that wouldn’t actually be an argument for cohesive writing on Glee’s part), but I’m fairly sure that they are—she was taking her life for granted again and dwelling on the past instead of just being grateful for what she has now, and she literally got that knocked out of her. In Big Brother, she tells everybody that “I’m not going to dwell on this” (this being the real, immediate problem of her having been hit by a truck); when she does dwell on it, for even a moment, she’s a “self-obsessed bitch” and is “inspired” by Joe into just being grateful again, accepting her situation instead of being angry about it or people’s reactions to it. And then Joe is the one who helps her walk again. And since she could walk again, that became a minor, temporary problem as well.

    I mean, you can argue that we’re supposed to see all of these belittleing reactions to Quinn’s pain as obviously wrong, but at what point does this very consistent narrative about Quinn’s problems (that she should just forget them because they’re in the past) become just the show’s narrative about her? At what point do the narrative’s overall themes about looking towards the future support this narrative about Quinn? At what point do the turns in the narrative support the idea that Quinn should be grateful instead of angry, that she should let her problems go—when she’s self-pitying and gets hit by a truck, when she’s grateful and begins to walk again with the help of the person who reminded her to be grateful, when she decides to hold on to sixteen and gets into Yale?

    Like, when you talk about the writers resentfully putting meta into the show that seems to address fans’ issues but are actually “fuck you”s, I think Quinn’s storyline this season could definitely be seen as an long-ranging example of that. Certainly they were aware that fans didn’t think that a haircut was a reasonable resolution for Quinn’s issues in season 2, and Brad Falchuk’s explanation that “Every culture has a ritual like that where you make some sort of physical change and it transforms you inside too” was pretty insufficient to appease fans. So at the beginning of season 3 Quinn shows up with (what do you know) new hair and is a bucketful of issues, and the ultimate resolution of those issues is that she needs to just get over them and stop focusing on the past. Seems pretty pointed.

  12. //I don’t think they need to show consequences or say something explicitly for everyone to understand – or that the authors always do/should/have to give an unambiguous moral lesson, telling the viewers what to think. Glee fandom is the first place I even heard these arguments and I was shocked by how much everyone wants characters to be punished and that everyone thinks if they aren’t then the authors approve of the characters’ actions and/or other viewers won’t see them as wrong. //

    I’m not sure what conversation you think we’re having, but it’s apparently one that involves arguments that I’m not actually making—please point me to where I said that I wanted characters to be punished.

    You’re also changing the terms of the discussion pretty radically—your original argument was that “they show how wrong the framing of women giving up virginity/having sex as a prize is and that they make it look even more disgusting than in TFT”. Your prior position was that they do show this, and when I asked you to explain how, you changed your position to state that they don’t have to, which absolves you from having to explain your previous statement. It’s kind of hard to respond to your argument if you keep changing what we’re actually discussing.

    I will say that, in general, there’s a difference between “wanting characters to be punished” and “expecting problematic things to be acknowledged as problematic on a narrative level, instead of validated on a narrative level, or ignored”. Finn managed to tell Rachel that it was wrong to send people to a crack house, but she had no explicit “punishment”. Kurt managed to tell Sue that it was offensive to call him “lady” without “punishing” her.

    I also think it’s fairly self-evident that Glee does often deliver consequences that function as narrative “rewards” and “punishments”, and it does often deliver unambiguous moral lessons. When we get a speech from Sue to Santana apologizing for lowering the tone of the campaign, which resulted in Santana’s outing, that’s Glee delivering unambiguous moral lessons. When Sue’s decision to play dirty in the election bites her in the ass, and Burt’s decision to run a clean campaign wins him the election, that’s Glee showing consequences to actions. When Bieste tells Puck’s teacher that he cares about his team and as a result he gets a second chance at his test, that’s Puck being rewarded for being a team player, in an episode where the value of being a team player was an explicit moral lesson. When we get a whole episode about how the club doesn’t need props, and then the club that uses props loses and the club that doesn’t use props wins, that’s Glee delivering explicit messages that are driven home by consequences—by narrative rewards. When Kurt decides not to turn in Sebastian, and then New Directions beats the Warblers and Sebastian comes around on his behavior on his own and then also uses that competition to raise money for queer teens, which he wouldn’t have been able to do if Kurt had gotten him kicked out of the Warblers, there’s nothing in that framework that suggests that Kurt’s decision to “rise above” wasn’t unambiguously the right thing to do—only positive consequences resulted from it.

    I mean, your argument seems to be that this framework simply does not exist, because Glee doesn’t deliver unambiguous moral lessons, punish and reward characters, and show consequences. But I think there’s significant evidence that it does.

    Regarding the meta you linked me to—well, I have the same problem that resulted in you linking the meta in the first place: way too much data to respond to, and it’s also widening the parameters of the conversation considerably. I will say that this point from that last piece you linked seems bizarrely reaching to me:

    //having “here’s what you missed on glee!” and episode descriptions that completely ignore the heart and point of the episode, as if to distract from it and draw the audience in for it.//

    Honestly, assuming that the “here’s what you missed on glee” segments are purposeful misinformation kind of misses the point that “here’s what you missed” segments (generally known as “previously on”s or recap sequences) are literally for people who have *missed something on Glee*. They’re catchup information for people who have missed a week, and reminders of significant information that will recur in this week’s episode for weekly viewers who aren’t watching with a keen eye. They have a specific, concrete use that there is no reason at all to subvert with misinformation.

    And if the “here’s what you missed on glee” segments, which are written and narrated by the writers, seem to miss the point of the episodes they’re narrating, I think the more likely explanation is that *she* is missing the point that the writers are trying to make. It seems like a case of, again, assuming that the writers are writing according to her moral framework instead of their own, to the point where even explicit evidence to the contrary is taken as evidence to support her case.

  13. I’ve read plenty of episode reactions that were fine with the way Will/Emma sex was handled. I’d like to point out that Emma clearly said “It was as much for me as it was for you.” To me, that says that it was ONLY for Will. Also they’ve been presented as being endgame from “The Pilot,” so I doubt RIB are trying to portray then as toxic. Then again, I’m biased because I’ve always shipped them. Those of us who like them interpret their interactions differently from those who don’t, and that’s okay.

  14. I’d also like to point out that will never said “I will try to fix you” in spoken dialogue. Those were just lyrics to a song, and I’m not so sure they’re meant to be taken literally. On another note, I’ve seen zero evidence on the show that Emma is queer. I’m a bit confused by the backlash regarding the “you just need to find the right person” stuff.

  15. As for Finn, him forgetting Rachel is a vegan was clearly played for laughs. IMO, the writers didn’t intend for us to take it seriously.

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