In defense of...
Written by Duana
This week Glee makes the cardinal sin of starting on the adults, and not even Sue, whom I find generally distracting from the show, but at least mildly entertaining on occasion. But it’s okay, because they quickly inform us that this is going to be the ‘deal with the gripes of the audience’ episode. Less Rachel! More Quinn singing! Mike Chang will get to dance!
Now, this is all very fine in the beginning, except for the part where I don’t understand why someone who can’t sing gets to be in a singing club. But let’s loosely call it a performance club, and it’s fine. Schue walks in, and when Rachel, the admitted best singer in the group, particularly now that Kurt is gone, asks what she’s going to sing she gets YELLED at by her TEACHER. In front of all the other kids. He placates himself and announces that the solos will go to Quinn and Sam. But to the damage is done. Because what follows is an hourlong pile-on, criticizing Rachel for being who she is – the best singer in the group. The one who has been relied upon week after week to support the group. Is it a surprise she thought the solo was coming to her?
I thought ‘Glee’ was supposed to be about inclusiveness? I thought it was all about seeing the beauty in one another? As it is, Kurt has left the school because of bullying. He is at a new school, full of respect, learning a dubious lesson: you’re one of the crowd, don’t try to stick out so much. Meanwhile, Rachel is at McKinley, just taking it while person after person – including her teacher! – tells her they don’t really like her, that they want to punch her in the mouth. In class time, this is OK? We can’t have the kids do anything remotely sexual or spiritual, but you all want to dump on the dorky girl? Well, Mr. Schue not only endorses that, he’ll join you!
Is bullying OK if it’s directed at a straight girl? If said straight girl has an ‘acceptable’ body? Is bullying OK if it comes from the teacher? Are we really teaching our kids ‘oh, no bullying – unless it’s someone who really annoys you’?
If this show was the satire it’s always said that it wants to be, then OK, I could accept that everyone hates Rachel and treats her like crap. I could also accept the character assassination that is the nervous, Finn-addicted young girl cheating with someone else out of nowhere, just so that we wouldn’t feel so bad about the entire cast of characters piling up on her.
But as it is, this is ridiculous. Nobody ever says “guys, we should help Rachel to fit in with us more.” Nobody decides that her talents are actually worth something even if they’re not on display. It’s not OK to deride any of the other characters – Brittany for being dumb as a post, Laura for being a stereotype and wanting Cadbury Eggs as a bribe to join Glee. Santana is joyful in her sexuality, and I think that’s great - so why exactly is Rachel’s enthusiasm fodder for totally accepted bullying and criticism?
For the same reason it’s been since the beginning of time: When people are jealous, they will do anything they can to pull you down a notch.
I thought the show was smarter than this. I thought there was merit in saying “You know what, you don’t have to like everyone, but you don’t get to treat them this way”. I don’t understand how we can possibly get away with a show that says “Glee is a warm and inclusive place for everyone, unless you’re the best at it, in which case we’re going to thinly veil our resentment at best, and mock you outright at worst.”
Now I know that you are all sitting there saying “Oh but she’s so annoying and she needs to fit in better with the others!” Sure. You have a point. Rachel could easily learn to adapt better to a group setting.
Doesn’t mean that open, abusive, non-constructive-criticism – by a TEACHER who is only reacting to what a woman he has a sixth-grade crush on thinks – is OK. And for those who say she’s been critical of Kurt, of the others – I agree. But she’s ONE person. This is a 20-person pile-on. When Puck says he kind of likes her, he is the lone dissenting voice.
Just because she’s smart or talented doesn’t mean that doesn’t sting. Just because she’s bossy doesn’t mean she gets to be picked on. Just because you don’t like someone, doesn’t ever, ever mean you get to be cruel to them. OK?
On the plus side, the songs this week were uniformly fun. I’ve always loved “Don’t Cry For Me Argentina”. I’d say I love Kurt and Rachel singing together the most, but I’m afraid my house would get egged.
Attached – Cory Monteith bowling during a photo shoot the other day.
Photos from OP/Splashnewsonline.com