I received this from a reader who would like to remain anonymous. Let’s discuss, and be civil. I have contacted the GEP on Tumblr and told them I will happily publish their response to this letter if they have one.
Ok, you know what, let’s play this game.
Let’s take all the straight couples. All of them.
(We can add Brittany/Kurt if we’re also willing to consider Santana/Karofsky.)
Let’s talk your standards at face value. Let’s trust, on faith, that what we really care about is not the number of kisses, but rather things like:
-the number of private scenes
-sitting together in the choir room
-having conversations about the relationship
-supporting one another when one character is going through adversity
-agency (the character makes their own decisions, rather than having them made for them by another character in the relationship)
Now. Let’s make our little tallies, on these dimensions, for each character. “Agency” is going to be the hardest to tally–it’s probably easier to count examples where it is violated. So don’t forget to include:
-Tina violating Artie’s agency in Dream On
-Tina applying to college for Mike
-Quinn telling Finn he was the father
-Sam putting Mercede’s video on youtube
etc. You’ll find a lot of other examples, don’t worry. It’s easier to restrict the data by only looking at in-couple decisions; if we expand the definition to include characters not in the pairing making decisions for one of the members, we’re going to wind up having to tally most of the plot for the show. Besides, this is about couples getting to act like couples, remember?
Oh, we should probably include infidelity in this, shouldn’t we. So count each time someone cheats.
Also, let’s assume that we care about the healthiness of a given couple, that we understand that data can be both quantitative and qualitative. So let’s look at how often couples break up, how long they last, and which of these relationships still remains as of the S3 finale. In addition, let’s look at the purpose and outcome of each private scene–and let us define a private scene as a scene happening in a character’s home or car, rather than at school. We can add the multiple hallway conversations that no one ever overhears if we want, but let’s acknowledge that they are different kinds of scenes and privacy. Consistency is important for accurate data collection.
Ok. We’ve got our data.
Let’s look at it, first, to see what patterns emerge. I’m personally particularly curious about why private scenes are given, how well they bode for predicting future drama in a couple, how often couples sit next to each other, how common infidelity is, and how often one character in a relationship makes a decision for the other character.
Once we’ve got our patterns, let’s do another level. Let’s take this data, and separate out all the pairings involving Finn or Rachel. And let’s compare/contrast the data for pairings with Finn or Rachel, and pairings without.
Is there a difference?
Now, let’s take those pairings, and refine it a step further. Add Quinn/Finn and Rachel/Puck back into the aggregate, keeping only Finn/Rachel separate. And let’s run the analysis again.
Let us draw a distinction between a main couple (that is, a couple formed by two main characters,) and a secondary couple.
Now, that’s the data for the straight couples. Let’s bring in the queer couples. We’re going to analyze the queer couples use the exact same standards we just used to evaluate the straight couples:
-the number of private (in homes or cars) scenes
-having conversations about the relationship
-supporting one another when one character is going through adversity
-agency (the character makes their own decisions, rather than having them made for them by another character in yhe relationship)
You’ll notice that physical affection is missing. This is because we’re trusting the statement that this isn’t about counting kisses, but about allowing couples to act like couples.
(Perhaps we should consider that there are many different ways for couples to act like couples, or that physical affection isn’t the only way to demonstrate affection. After all, we wouldn’t want off-the-cuff statements on the internet to accidentally erase millions of real-life couples and lived experiences.)
So, let’s run the analysis. Let’s compare the queer couples to the aggregate of straight couples, and let’s compare them to Finn/Rachel.
Please remember to look at how Kurt/Blaine and Brittany/Santana look in comparison to:
in terms of:
-the number of private (in homes or cars) scenes
-having conversations about the relationship
-supporting one another when one character is going through adversity
-agency (the character makes their own decisions, rather than having them made for them by another character, in or out of the relationship)
Consider whether or not Kurt/Blaine and Brittany/Santana are best compared to secondary couples, or the main couple. Consider the amount of screen time each individual character has in comparison to Finn and Rachel, the relative prominence of their storylines across the seasons, the structure of the pilot, and how the finale ended.
Again, we’re not bringing up kisses, because, this isn’t about kisses. This is about couples getting to act like couples, and whether or not a double standard exists when a couple is queer. If we were to bring up kisses, we would need to run the data in the same way–collect if for all the straight couples, compare secondary straight couples to Finn/Rachel, compare the straight couples that include Finn or Rachel to those that do not, compare queer couples to Finn/Rachel, and then compare queer couples to secondary straight couples. We don’t want to mistake a main couple/secondary couple divide for homophobia. This is worth being right about, don’t you agree?
So. Let’s do all of that. And if, when all of that is said and done, you still want to punch me in the face for not believing there is a clear double standard between queer and straight couples on this show? Then I reserve the right to hate you for disguising your fetishization as progress and exploiting my community and my identity over something that didn’t even have a factual basis, and was so easy to check.
….. Popcorn.gif tbh
I’m not a part of the Glee Equality Project but I’m a lesbian so idk how I could fetishize my own identity…?
Yes I want to see more Klaine and Brittana. You know what disgusts me? How for the last, like, 6 episodes of season 3 Finchel had on average 2 kisses per episode, and Brittana and Klaine had a running total of 4 for the entire damn season. Together. I’m sick of seeing this heterosexual bullshit on my screen. It was getting out of control and literally made me sick to my stomach. Meanwhile, Klaine and Brittana fans are left to cheer when they share a fucking glance. Excuse me for being fucking disgusted at this double standard.
Also if you’re going to say something like this, don’t hide behind an anonymous façade. Own up to what you say so that way we can have a discussion with you. It’s pretty wimpy imo.
It’s possible. You can fetishize your own identity. Women can be sexist against women. Gay people can be homophobic. It happens. We all grow up in the same world. It takes us less time to unlearn when it’s about us, but we still need to unlearn.
Anyway, I want to see more of them too, but as much as I want to see more of them, I accept that
1. I’m not writing Glee. I don’t even write Glee fanfiction.
2. I don’t think there has been a conspiracy of not-wanting gay affection on screen.
3. There are real reasons that have been stated by two of the creators, a director and now one of the actors. Mostly, I seriously can’t imagine DC jumping in to make a comment because he feels a strong need to impulsively and needlessly defend a homophobic conspiracy.
4. Not many of the other couples have a lot of relationshippy moments either, that do not involve serious drama of the type we’d probably be sad to see our favourite ships go through. Finchel, yes, but they’re the two leads and it’s a long running joke (see the hallway scene where Santana points out how often they make out and how gross it is — everyone agrees).
5. As I’ve said a gazillion times, I don’t kiss my wife in public, or hold hands with her. And she’s pretty damn good at Tae Kwon Do. We don’t want to invite trouble. It’s also a habit we get into, and a mindset that is hard to leave behind, because in our lives, it’s about safety, which is a pretty primal instinct. It was addressed briefly in the stairway/flowers scene, but a lot of people didn’t really take it on board.
6. Glee is cut very tight. As we saw with The Box Scene, sometimes they even cut crucial moments from the script to make it a workable length. There’s a long game to Glee, and if the story doesn’t fit the arc, there’s very little room for padding.
7. How the couples are portrayed is partly writers, editors and actors. If the actors are aware of the perception and do talk about whether it’s useful to be more affectionate (taking into consideration what they think their characters would actually do) and they’re coming to the decision that, no, it’s fine as is, I feel the impulse to trust that.
I don’t think it’s a double standard. Neither Klaine nor Brittana are leads or the primary couple. And their overly affectionate but completely tragic relationship is not a running joke either, which makes me happy. If I woke up tomorrow and Klaine was treated like Finchel, I’d be less happy. How would you feel?
I agree with this letter. I think part of the issue, though, is that some of us (me included) are in denial that Finchel is the main couple. I really don’t want them to be. I’d love it if they didn’t have multiple couple scenes about stupid stuff every single episode — and that’s not just because there are couples that I would prefer to see with that screentime. Finchel annoys me. I want to push them into the background. I also think that this cast is too big and we’re not going to see as much of anybody to keep their fans happy.
I’d be completely shocked, though, given these boys’ past experiences, the nature of McKinley, and their personalities, if they started making out in crowded hallways at school. I think it would be out of character. I also love that Kurt and Blaine are the couple that communicates with each other. If I were a fan of Finn/Rahcel, I’d be upset about how rarely they truly communicate and how little they actually seem to know each other. Both Kurt/Blaine and Brittany/Santana seem to get each other much more than Finn and Rachel do.
Most of the time, we see Mike and Tina making out — we don’t see them talking much. I’m unclear on whether Mercedes and Sam actually dated at any point during the second half of this season — although they did kiss. Same with Quinn and Joe — they got one lovely conversation about how it was okay to have erections and a few episodes later, Quinn was kissing Puck to show him that she believed in his ability to pass a test (what?). My point is, I don’t like that physical affection is a double standard, but I wouldn’t trade the interactions we have with Kurt/Blaine and Brittany/Santana for one of those other relationships. I’d rather not see them cuddle and make out in the choir room all the time and talk twice a season like Mike and Tina.
I would love to know what censoring is coming from Fox and what is coming from writers and how much writers are planning around fan reaction. I have suspected that Ryan Murphy wants fans to be angry both at the real life PDA double-standard (which Chris Colfer referenced) and at Fox.
That letter assigns the reader a lot of math to do, and on some subjective judgments. I’m going to talk about impressions. Yes, Finn and Rachel were intended to be the main couple, but Kurt and Blaine, and Brittany and Santana, became important couples, too. Brittany and Santana regularly took each other’s agency away, and there were a number of episodes in the third season where Brittany either didn’t talk or only had one line. They did sit together and they cuddled every so often.
Kurt and Blaine may have gotten as many private scenes as some of the secondary straight couples, but they fought in some of those scenes. I’ve been maintaining, on AfterElton among other places, that I understand that it’s dangerous for them to have PDAs, but that they could have displays of affection in private scenes. There’s certainly a societal double standard, and it’s clear that the show reflects that to some extent. There’s a tension there because to much of the audience they’re seen as a main couple, not a secondary couple, yet they don’t get the screen time.
I certainly don’t want to punch anyone, and don’t want to be hated on. I’m bi, and I think my tolerance for straight make-out scenes is pretty good. I was getting very tired of Finn and Rachel making out everywhere and all the time, though. I’m not thrilled with the word “fetishization” to describe wanting to see affection when I am interested in rights and progress as well. I can have more than one motivation.
Somewhere there’s a happy medium between just wanting to see kisses and not believing that there’s a double standard. There can be more than one important couple on a show. Yes, caution about PDAs is part of reality for same-sex couples, and it’s so in Glee’s heightened reality, too. Homophobia is part of the storylines for Klaine and Brittana. I don’t believe the showrunners are homophobic, but some of the characters certainly are.
Many of the show’s characters are teenagers, and sex is important to them. They talk about it a lot. They want to have it, and some of them do. It’s no surprise the audience talks about physical affection as well. Santana and Brittany might be secondary characters, but they’ve had their share of storylines about sex. Much of it happened offscreen. There was huge pressure from fans who were AfterEllen members to see an onscreen Brittana kiss. These were lesbians wanting to see a same-sex kiss from a female couple. It wasn’t fetishization.
There’s a double standard on same-sex displays of affection versus opposite-sex displays of affection, but much of it is what the show reflects of real life, and what’s safe to do in the hallways and classrooms of a high school that’s dangerous for those who are different from the majority.
I won’t argue that fans desire fan service. However, to dismiss and generalize the frustration that many Klaine and Brittana fans are expressing into fantasizing about them making out is borderline insulting. It isn’t about the number of gay kisses versus the straight ones, and it’s annoying when people try to use that as an argument because there are more straight real couples and there’s really no getting around that. The reason I believe there is a double standard, whether intentional or not, is because even when the couples are in a sufficient amount of privacy, they don’t act the same. I’m not saying the gay couples don’t act like couples, but they don’t act like the straight couples, even in private. Also Brittany and Santana, who seem to have few qualms about PDA and whose school peers have no problem with affection (the sex tape), are absent of intimacy save for the “special episodes”. And how could they NOT give Brittany a line during Santana’s coming out episode? It was just so obviously left out.
Kurt and Blaine’s goodbye, in the respective episode, was seriously just hand holding. There were beautiful declarations of love, but that isn’t hard to compare to Finn and Rachel’s 20th make out of the season. They were alone, might I add. It isn’t because they weren’t the main couple. Think of all the times Mike and Tina have kissed. Their kiss was left out in the montage of every single couple kissing. When Finn and Puck switched bodies with Klaine, they were able to show more affection than Kurt and Blaine usually do because it was a joke. Hey, they’re both straight and they’re acting gay. It’s funny. That is 1) making it obvious that Kurt and Blaine have lost almost all visible physical intimacy since The First Time and 2) making a statement that gay affection is okay if it’s a joke.
The inequality, which I choose to believe is real, is something that viewers take offense to. Not just shippers because of their absence of fan service, but people of the LGTB community who are witnessing gay couples being represented and it’s not right for them to feel illegitimate, regardless if you see the same thing or not.
Sorry if this is scattered and not thought out. This letter just kind of pissed me off.
“I don’t think it’s a double standard. Neither Klaine nor Brittana are leads or the primary couple. And their overly affectionate but completely tragic relationship is not a running joke either, which makes me happy.” Agreed. Too, the kinds of bumps both Klaine and Brittana have had to contend with in their relationships aren’t as full of toxicity like many of the others–where characters knowingly cheat, lie, manipulate . . .
Ever since the rose scene in Asian F, I think the show made clear how dangerous PDA for a gay male couple in a public school known for bullying was. That said we’ve certainly seen Kurt and Blaine do more public displays as the season went on–but the situations have been different from–maybe less threatening than?–the stairs scene. They hug after finding out Blaine got Tony, because all the other glee kids are there doing the same, or they hold hands in the hallway after Regionals, since it’s probably a weekend and only the glee kids are even around the deserted school, or they’re at a party with invitees only . . . There IS a kind of loose consistency here, and while I don’t agree that Falchuk’s “Kurt doesn’t like PDA” is the best answer to the question about treatment of Klaine, I do think the statement is generally true for Kurt (but not as far as Blaine is concerned). And I think Blaine, even though he was very touchy at Dalton, is less so at MKHS.
As for kissing? So much of the action of the show takes place at school, at the Lima Bean, in the choir room . . . all public places. But of course the writers *could* set scenes elsewhere, couldn’t they? And seeing a kiss on screen isn’t about fan fetish as it is about storytelling; there’s an emotional impact to such moments. So when that particular kind of display just never happens again . . . it does seem weird. Disappointing, narratively. As we’ve seen, there are lots of ways and reasons people start interpreting a pattern once it’s visible.
I do like the letter’s reminding us about all the dimensions of relationships that might get play in a narrative, though . . . and I guess I’m just feeling less hopeful about Season 4, as tidbits trickle out. I’m expecting Rachel in *every* episode, and light coverage at best of everyone else as even more cast members are needed for the 4-5 places around the country we’ll be seeing.
All I have to do is point you guys in the direction of Grey’s Anatomy. They have a lesbian couple. A lesbian couple who is not the main couple of the show (the main couple is Meredith and Derek). The lesbian couple, Callie and Arizona, have meaningful talks about their relationship. They are shown as being there for each other. They kiss quite often, and not to tempt the gaze of viewers or fetishize their relationship, but to show that they are a normal couple, just like Meredith and Derek and every other straight couple. Their screentime is nowhere near the screentime that Meredith gets (the show is called ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ after all, with Meredith GREY being the central character). But they are still treated equally.
I can’t speak for the GEP, but from what I understand, the campaign isn’t about wanting the gay couples to get the screentime and amounts of kissing that Finchel got. It’s about wanting them to be treated equally. If they have a problem, and then resolve the problem, I would expect that resolution to be the same, whether the couple is gay or straight. But, for example, on Glee, in Saturday Night Gleever, the central plots of that episode involved Finn (and Rachel helping him), Mercedes (and Sam helping her), and Santana (and Brittany helping her). At the end of the episode, the problems Finn, Mercedes, and Santana were having were resolved, and they got comfort from their significant others. Finn and Rachel were alone in a classroom and kissed. Mercedes and Sam were alone in a classroom and kissed. But Santana and Brittany were in Sue’s office, with Sue, and hugged. These scenarios should have been equal, and I can’t help but notice they had to give the gay couple a chaperone so that there would be a reason for them not to kiss.
But okay, let’s talk about PDA. According to Brad, Kurt is uncomfortable with PDA. Guess what easily resolves that issue? Having a scene in private. Finchel got scenes in private. So did Wemma. So did Samcedes. So did Tike. So did Puck/Quinn. Klaine had private scenes in two episode: one, which was the Very Special Episode about losing one’s virginity, and one which involved them in a fight so there would be no affection between them. Guess how many private scenes Brittana got in season three? Zero. None. Zilch. Every established couple (both major and minor, and some who weren’t even couples at all) had at least one private scene this season. Brittana got zero. Santana has been called a “major” character by the creators of Glee. Yet she got zero private scenes with her girlfriend all season.
There is something clearly wrong with the content allowed for the gay couples on this show. I honestly don’t understand why it’s not obvious to anyone who watches.
I know this opinion is unpopular, but the idea that Kurt dislikes PDA makes sense to me. Given Blaine’s history of being hospitalized after being bashed and Kurt’s history of bullying, being wary of PDA is reasonable verging on expected. Santana and Brittany can get away with more because of a cultural double standard of lesbians being hot.
I don’t agree with everything the letter says, but I do think the writer makes a good point that the homosexual relationships on the show are the healthiest. Brittany and Santana started off in an unhealthy place, but through the second and third seasons they consistently worked on themselves and their relationship. While I don’t personally feel that they will make it long term, I hope to be proven wrong. Contrast this with Rachel and Fin’s relationship that starts out badly and just gets worse. I have always gotten the impression that we are supposed to find Rachel and Fin’s PDA to be excessive, fake, and kind of gross. Several times the show has even explicitly stated that it is such.
Kurt and Blaine are the healthiest relationship on the show. Like all couples, they have occasional problems which they work through together. They consistently support each other while not loosing a sense of self. I occasionally wish I saw more of their private moments, but I acknowledge that this wouldn’t really advance the plot of the show. I would rather them be a happy background couple than a dysfunctional foreground couple. I can read fanfiction to fill in the gaps.
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Blaine said he was beaten up, but did not say he was hospitalized.
Kurt has never had a problem with PDA. He’s the one who said “Why can’t I slow dance at my prom? Why can’t I walk down the hall with the person that I like?”
I can think of a dozen times b4 the first time aired: hand holding in Breadsticks and the Lima Bean, hugging in PPP, flowers given to Blaine in stairwell, hugging during Somewhere Only We Know in front of tons of students, slow dancing with Blaine after being humiliated during Prom Queen, (and even in The Box Scene that was cut out of the Christmas ep…includes them wrapping their arms around each other and walking down the hall) etc, where he INITIATED PDA or was its more that willing recipient.
Also, this may not be just about kisses, but they do tell an interesting story. And they Do matter. Kurt and Blaine have kissed 2 times in 22 episodes. There were 89 straight kisses during season 3 (35 between extras). You want to make the argument that RIB never intended to bill Klaine as one of the major couples on the show, and they are just minor characters? Even with OS, Sexy, TFT, NBK and a million other eps to prove u wrong, as well as the fact that K&B were the only couple who were actually set up in their own school environment so that nothing would distract from their growing romance? Fine. But acting like there isn’t a problem here is just naive. Klaine is clearly more relevant to fans than extras. Why script over 20 extra kisses during Prom-asaurus, but no Klaine or Brittana kiss? Still think there’s not a problem?
A friend of mine started watching Glee this season, and she said she hadn’t even realized Kurt and Blaine were dating until the Whitney episode because they never sit near each other in class or talk. That’s a problem.
Anyone who is interested in the GEP’s fact filled rebuttal to the initial post above (that, interestingly raises questions but contains NO actual figures or facts, unlike the GEP…lol), they have it up on their site.
For the record, Sophie, their statement is also published in full on this site.
Grey’s does the fan service thing. I don’t think it is an accident that Ms. Jessica Capshaw is younger/hotter than Ms. Brooke Smith.
They may give Calzona good PDA and screen time but they are adults, in Seattle and they are hella pretty.
“Klaine is clearly more relevant to fans than extras. Why script over 20 extra kisses during Prom-asaurus, but no Klaine or Brittana kiss? Still think there’s not a problem?”
I think the other question is are kisses the most relevant thing to fans?
I just want to take a minute to think about your quote from Kurt up there.
Firstly, Kurt says that he wants to slow dance at his prom, and walk hand in hand with the person that he likes. Both of these are things that Kurt has done, when given the opportunity. What Kurt does not say is “I want to kiss the boy that I like in public”. In fact, he doesn’t mention kissing at all. We certainly can’t glean Kurt’s opinion on kissing-pda from that statement – and I think it is reasonable to put kissing in a different category of pda than hand-holding and slow dancing; excessive public kissing is a thing that probably grosses most people out, while excessive public hand holding.. doesn’t.. exist.
Secondly, even if we could assume from this that Kurt is in favour of all forms of PDA ever at the time of that statement, this is something that he said in duets. If we think about what’s changed for Kurt since then – Kurt in duets was a person who could approach a clearly muscled jock in the shower with no hint of trepidation. He’d been bullied, sure, but he obviously didn’t fear for his life at this point. In the time frame before duets and Blaine’s transfer to McKinley, though, Kurt is sexually assaulted, has his life threatened, and watches as the entire student body turns against him to humiliate him – all of these things just for being him and existing, without actually doing anything. I think even if Kurt was in favour of PDA before that happened to him, he would probably have revised his opinion by this point.
And then there’s the thing about extras – we’ve already established that Kurt and Blaine do not feel safe kissing in public. Kurt and Blaine ARE NOT safe kissing in public. Straight couples making out at prom is a realistic thing – if there hadn’t been extras kissing all over the place, that prom would not have been a true representation of what proms are like. Gay couples making out at prom, on the other hand, in a high school that’s been known to be homophobic to the point of physical bullying, where teachers turn a blind eye, where last year’s prom resulted in a gay kid being crowned prom queen to humiliate him and one member of the couple has been beaten up just for going to a dance with a boy in the past? I really don’t think that would be a true representation of character or the environment.
as for private kissing scenes – since they’ve been dating, whenever Kurt and Blaine have been alone in an environment where it would definitely and demonstrably be safe for them to kiss, we have seen them kissing, unless there is a plot reason for them to not be (see: dws and Chandler / Blaine deliberately distancing himself). We have seen hugs in environments where it wouldn’t be safe for them to kiss, we’ve seen longing glances, hand holding, slow dancing, shared smiles, couple-y discussions, duets and all of the coupley things that it is safe for them to do. Generally, glee does not schedule private scenes between characters unless there is a plot reason to do so (and quite rightly so, because scheduling make-out scenes between couples just as filler is pretty much straying expressly into the territory of fetishization) and typically that plot reason involves the unhealthy nature of the couple. As people above have said, healthy background couple is a better deal than unhealthy foreground.
When Finn and Puck switched bodies with Klaine, they were able to show more affection than Kurt and Blaine usually do because it was a joke. Hey, they’re both straight and they’re acting gay. It’s funny. That is 1) making it obvious that Kurt and Blaine have lost almost all visible physical intimacy since The First Time and 2) making a statement that gay affection is okay if it’s a joke.
This! So. Much. I noticed that and I found it really offensive. I blame the writers.
Also, to at least half of the commenters that agree with this letter: the point is NOT that Blaine and Kurt / Brittany and Santana go ahead and repeatedly make out in public. The point is that when the situation calls for it, they don’t. Unlike what happens with straight couples.
Ok, as a straight girl and a Christian so I don’t know where that leaves me on the scale, I like Klaine and Brittana (like is maybe the wrong word – LOVE is perhaps more appropriate) when I think of couples I think of my parents who were clearly head over heels in love with each other, but weren’t big on pda’s in public either. But I remember them holding hands, being goofy with each other, being silly, always being together, and that’s something that I think shows a relationship. Sometimes Klaine especially would be on opposite sides of the room from one another, can we at least have them sitting next to each other, you don’t need to kiss, but sometimes a hand touching a face or something intimate would say just as much. I do think there is a difference between the straight couples and the gay couples and I think definitely some of that comes down to the fact that the show is set in Ohio, not say New York. But come on, even cuddles would be great. When Blaine was slushied by Sebastian and Kurt, Rachel and Finn came to visit I would at least have had Kurt on the bed holding Blaine, not necessarily in a sexual way, but in a “hey I’m your boyfriend and I know you’re scared and I’m here for you kind of way”. Come on, let’s make this seem like a good relationship rather than a crappy one – kids need to see solid relationships with everyone so that they know they exist!!