The Moth Chase

Elevating the Art of Procrastanalysis – Academics wasting time on pop culture

And We Have a Jumper

with 3 comments

If there’s one thing I learned tonight – and it’s not that we’re all freaks and need to express ourselves as such – it’s that Lady Gaga is so much more than the sum of her costumes.  Let me preface this analysis by saying that I heart Gaga.  I think she’s a genius – not only because of her reinvention, but also because her music is so damn catchy on numerous levels while also having surprisingly creative lyrics.  Most of all, though, I love her because she plays with identity in ways that force me to think deeply about the relationship between gender, sexuality, self-expression, violence and power.  She can’t be written off.  She’s not Britney.  Dare I say it, she’s not even Madonna circa 1989-1994 (i.e. Madonna at her very very best and, yes, I included Bedtime Stories in that spread on purpose).  She’s something so radically new I don’t yet know what to do with her.  What I do know is that she can’t be copied, even by the amazingly talented Glee kids…they just looked silly.  They didn’t have the personas or attitude to back up their costumes (except for Rachel’s short time in the teddy bear jumper costume-that required little hutzpah).  Whereas Lady Gaga creates a series of characters, the Glee kids looked like they were playing dress-up.

And that’s testimony to Gaga’s greatness.

Although, I will say I’ve downloaded Rachel and her mom’s Poker Face to listen to while I write.

The Twilight references tonight were fantastic – for all the ways that folks take the saga way too seriously, Figgins took it to new heights by actually believing in the undead.  I’m loving watching Tina come into her own in these last few weeks, even if coming into her own requires pretending to be someone else!  Sometimes you really do have to fake it till you make it.

And speaking of finding oneself, let’s get to the heart of the episode: Finn and Kurt.  The tender drama of Kurt’s story and his Ohio surrounders’ attempts to come to terms with his sexuality – even as he does so himself – also reached new heights tonight.  I continue to love Burt – his speech protecting his son at all personal costs was so deeply sweet.  Each week Burt takes his dedication and desire to grow in his own open-mindedness and ability to love to new levels.  And what a gift to have a speech in prime time television about how important words are and how much hatred we can inadvertently communicate with them.  The N-word?  Of course we don’t use that.  Retarded?  While Finn insisted he doesn’t use that word, I wonder how many folks watching do?  And of course, faggy – and the corollary, “that’s so gay”.   These get tossed around by folks without a second thought…until tonight, that is.  The hurt on Kurt’s face, the indignation of Burt’s and the guilt on Finn’s – all these together, I hope, worked to wipe such hate-speech off the tongues of thousands of high-schoolers (and college kids and grown-ups) tonight.  But perhaps I’m just too optimistic?

Even with Burt’s fired up speech, it was Finn who really got to me though.  As soon as he started tossing around the f-word, we knew he didn’t mean it…but that he also did.  And, as Burt pointed out, that’s precisely the danger of that type of language and, more significantly, of that type of deep-seated hatred of difference that we all bear within us.  It’s the type of deep-seated hatred that raises its ugly head, surprising us when we least expect it, bubbling up from places sub-conscious but nevertheless real.  Cory Monteith played Finn’s penitent realization and desire for forgiveness perfectly.  Finn’s word-choice was different than two jocks using it as intentional hate-speech precisely because we think he’s different…and more so, precisely because he is different.  It’s dis-heartening to learn that even those who love you harbor some secret (even to themselves) fear and dislike of what and who you are.

And the thing that really got me was that I could empathize with Finn – not with his language use, but with his feelings of confusion and frustration, because Kurt’s been doing something not all that great too.  He’s pushed the parents together into deeper and deeper relationship because of his crush on Finn.  He’s in effect sought to manipulate the shape of other people’s lives for his own gain and, we found out tonight, Finn has known all along what’s going on.  Male, female, gay, straight or somewhere between all four, I don’t care – if I were dealing with someone pursuing me with such intense unwanted advances, I’d probably change my underwear in the shower too.  That Moroccan bedroom wasn’t a perfect blend of Finn and Kurt’s personalities – it was a make-out room.  And that’s just too much of a come-on for anyone!  If Kurt were female, we’d think of him through the lens of a little Fatal Attraction.  His sexuality lends an air of the tragic to this narrative.  But in the end, Finn’s still dealing with a somewhat obsessive crusher.

In the end, I think his use of the word fag had something more complicated going on in it – he wanted to demarcate the difference between him and Kurt in order to stop the advances and, by extension, stop the out-of-control spin of the parents’ romance.  I’m not defending his choice of words – what he said was wrong.  But I’m pleased to see Glee offer a more complex picture of how sexuality shapes teenage relationships – both in their joy and sorrow.   Despite offering a moral (don’t use hate-speech under any circumstances), it avoided moralism and instead told a story packed with emotion and meaning.

It’s when it’s doing that that Glee is at its best!

What did you guys think?  Did you find the Gaga number flat too?  Were you, like me, disappointed that we were promised a Gaga-episode only to get a couple of songs?


Written by themothchase

May 26, 2010 at 8:23 am

3 Responses

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  1. I liked the Gaga songs, and one thing in particular I noted was that Santana actually has a good voice and needs to be spotlighted some more (she was all in black for the performance). I was let down with the Kiss aspect (i just didn’t quite feel it). I was really hoping they would end a Kiss/Gaga mashup at the end which is where I thought they would resolve the boys/girls issue….but I guess I was wrong.

    I was a little surpised by Burt’s speech. I liked it, and the actor is surpising me with his versatility (I just remember him as a the one-dimensional sitcom side character). It was tense and I would have been pretty scared of being hit if I was Quinn. Muy fiance thought it felt a little out of place with how powerful it came across.

    Anyway I liked the episode.


    May 26, 2010 at 10:33 am

  2. I’m always interested while watching Glee but this episode didn’t work too well for me, except for the Finn-Kurt bit that Natalie writes so well about above. I thought it was all over the place, trying to do too much and in that not doing anything well enough, which is surprising because usually they do manage to pull off doing too much. The whole Gaga deal? I don’t know. Maybe it paled by comparison to the recent Madonna treatment, which was great. Perhaps the idea of a Gaga night followed that other too closely.

    But mostly, what about Rachel and her mother? The finding-the-long-lost-parent archetype is huge, perhaps too huge because it sure didn’t work very well. I don’t have any great ideas about what the writers should have done except not what they did. I couldn’t take my eyes off the uncanny resemblance, leaving me to ask John, “Is that really her mother?” Well, is it? Anyway, I don’t know if they can pick up this thread more successfully in future episodes, but I doubt it. I think they blew the opportunity. For a long time now I wondered if we would ever see Rachel’s dads. Maybe they could play with that a little? Short of that, they should have left this on the paper until they’d played with it a little longer.

    Valerie Stevenson

    May 26, 2010 at 10:50 am

  3. I agree that it did not work well, even considering they spent several episodes on this. It would be a waste of talent, character growth potential (it is a big deal) and uncaany resemblance to not re-visit this storyline in the future.

    meeting the dads would be cool too!


    May 27, 2010 at 9:11 am

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