I’ve been anxiously waiting the arrival of this clip on YouTube since Tuesday‘s episode of Glee. The second it aired, I actually verbalized (out loud, alone in my bedroom) ‘ooo gotta get my greedy little hands on that one!’…… Done!
Apologies for the quality - the original version has been stripped from YouTube somewhere inbetween when I started this post and now (darn copyright laws!)
I get legitimate chills watching this.
Firstly, because I think...Hang on,
...if you don’t watch Glee, you probably should. For someone like me, it’s literally mind-blowing - there’s pop culture references left, right and centre; they cover current music (whatever, I hate Lady Gaga); they cover older music (most recently Sinatra‘s ‘Lady is a Tramp‘)…and for the younger generation of viewers, this is probably their first listen to some everlasting classics; annnnnd lastly, I’m kind of in love with Puck.
Sigh....back on track...here’s some context to the above clip:
Kurt’s dad, Burt (Ha!) and Finn's mom are dating. And moving in together. Burt loves Finn- he’s the football-playing, heterosexual son Kurt could never be. Enter Finn's enraged schpeel about the drapery and Burt stands up for Kurt (seriously, the rhyming!) in a fricking heartbeat. The underlying intensity of this scene is grounded in the painstaking heartache that is Kurt and Burt's relationship. They've both made attempts at embracing the other's interests but as we’ve seen all season, their relationship remains strained. Kurt even tried his hand at being straight a few episodes ago- and it didn’t even feel like it was so much for Burt's approval but rather so they could have some things to talk about (namely girls, lumberjack ensembles and John Mellencamp). We saw the extent Kurt was willing to go to be a part of his dad’s life and this week, we finally saw Burt stand up for his son when it mattered most.
If we take this tiny clip, this small portion of an (already) iconic television show and enlarge it tenfold, we can see that it addresses a seriously important issue. Language. Better yet - the pejorative use of it, also known as derogatory slang.
Have you ever heard anyone say the following?
That’s so gay.
Stop being a fag.
You’re a retard.
Have you ever said some variation of the above? It’s okay, I have too. But in 2003 (yes I remember the year, it was during Frosh week of my undergrad) I started making an extremely conscious effort to take these words out of my vocabulary. For good. It wasn’t like I was going around dropping bombs all the time, but I most certainly used them sporadically. But now...pfft, you can bet your bottom dollar I’d rather eat a light bulb than call someone by a name so inappropriate. So disgusting. Sure, it took a bit of effort (a few lip-biting incidents) but proved to be more than worth it in the end. I took responsibility for something that I hadn't created or produced but could've easily been a part of. I chose not to participate.
Burt Hummel dosed out some serious information-questioning to Finn- scratch that, to Finn and (hopefully) Glee audiences everywhere. And it made me love its creator (Ryan Murphy) that much more. Not only did he push the envelope so far as to say ‘fag’ on primetime television, but in so doing he created a situation where the characters could address a hugely important social issue.
Gay, Retard, Fag...all in their pejorative form suggest that something (or someone) is abnormal. (What’s normal, you say? Whole other can of worms!) Every time you or someone you know uses these words- joke or not, no matter what the context- you/they are only affirming current laws and social norms which suggest homosexual people, disabled people (and so on) should be treated as 'not normal'. In short, you only confirm the worst traits of our society when you choose to use words like this.
Glee gets it. And has showed us where these pejorative meanings stem from and how they can so easily be dismissed as meaningless everyday slang. So come on people, let’s be that generation Burt Hummel talks about... 'that new generation of dude' who sees things differently- 'who just came in to the world knowing'.
And that’s what you missed on...Glee