Sunday, December 6, 2009

Why Do We Like…?

As part of an ongoing series, I intend to examine certain social phenomena and how they have become integral parts of gay culture. As a community, we tend to identify with certain types of narratives, people, places, ideas, etc. In this series, I will approach the question “Why do we like these things?” Of course, since the GLBT community is as diverse as any other, please note that I speak in a very general sense that does not apply to everyone.


On a weekly basis, my friend Stuart hosts a bunch of GMBs in his house to watch Glee. These days, it’s the only show I don’t watch via Hulu a day later. We sit down and joke, make random comments, and snack on whatever Stuart has prepared. (I also tend to watch people’s reactions). Why do we like it so much to set aside this time with work and school, then? (Aside from the man candy…).

Reason #1: The Music

From episode one, we were blown away by the music. Frankly, I can’t listen to the original “Don’t Stop Believin’” by Journey because the Glee version is so good I watched it about four times in a row the first time I saw it. Music’s pull is obvious on gay men, but goes a bit deeper.

Almost all of the music helps drive or uncover important elements of the plot. It’s almost never expository (for example, singing “I’m Getting Married in the Morning” because that’s what will happen in a couple of scenes). The music brings depth to characters that might otherwise be considered stereotypes.

One of the most amazing scenes was when we first saw Quinn without her Cheerios uniform. Wearing a white pregnancy blouse and singing “Keep Holding On.” Some real tenderness between her, Rachel, and Finn is apparent as they hold hands briefly. And the tears get jerked out of your socket when Quinn lets out a heaving sigh at the end.

The music allows us to empathize with the characters and that’s part of what makes us like it.

Reason #2: The Humor

One of my favorite random blogs, Bri-Tunes: Life on Shuffle, presents a weekly Glee-cap. Brian, the blog’s author, offers some pretty hilarious takes on the show and I tend to agree with him too much. For instance, we share a common appreciation for minor characters such as Britney the cheerleader.

This has a lot to do with the set of stereotypes the show often references. Aside from the adults (perhaps), each character fits (initially) into a distinct stereotype. There’s the jock and the cheerleader. There’s the diva and the loser. And finally a set of minorities that one character nicknames individually “Santana! Wheels! Gay Kid! Asian! Other Asian! Aretha! [and] Shaft!”

Paradoxically, the show plays into these stereotypes to get around them. The cheerleader (Quinn) and football players’ (Finn, Puck, et. al.) initial popularity is stripped of them. Even as an outsider the “Gay Kid” (Curt) teaches the football players how song and dance can fix their game.

We get laughs out of the challenges to these expectations which equate to growth in the characters.

Reason #3: The Utopian vision

Alright, this one might be a bit of a stretch. This show presents a pretty hopeful vision of the future.

While these students challenge their assigned stereotypes and break down barriers, we notice progress towards a world where everyone is accepted, welcomed, and supported despite differences.


Despite the prejudice that the kids face in their society and the terrible things adults do to each other (like faking a pregnancy), they find a way through the latest drama as they help each other. Hopefully, that’s a vision we all hold for the future.


Anonymous said...

I so enjoy your writing. You are VERY talented. And, while I have heard of this show, I have not yet seen it. I think I will need to look for it. Thank you for telling about it in these terms.

Hope you are not freezing too much where you are! And, good luck...

shaantvis said...

How does one get invited to these Glee nights?

Anonymous said...

I love Glee and love what you have to say about the show. But I ditto shaantvis, how do I get invited?

A Gay Mormon Boy said...

Well, it may be a little hard for some of you, but you are invited. Stuart's Glee nights take place in Logan.

Kristina said...

I always appreciated the utopian vision in the Star Trek series.

Interesting idea for blog posts. I wonder what the next one will be?

A Gay Mormon Boy said...

I would never have made a connection between Star Trek and Glee.

As for the next in the series, I have a list of ten topics. It could take a while to get through them.

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