Saturday, May 29, 2010

Faggy Pillows

Video here

In the otherwise trite Gaga episode of Glee last week, Kurt's dad (the aptly named Burt) explains to Finn the destructive power of hate-speech. In addition to Burt's moving speech about unconditional love, I also really appreciated Kurt's argument here. Yes, he does spend most of the scene looking devastated, but he also gets angry and tells Finn to grow up.

I was fascinated by Burt's idea that Finn might belong to "a new generation," someone who'd grown up "just knowing" that being gay was a part of life, something to be celebrated rather than denigrated and/or feared. The show itself is always hit-or-miss, but the dynamic between Kurt and his dad has always been my favorite part. I especially love when he glances around at Kurt's Moroccan-inspired boudoir and pronounces: "The place looks great."


Melany Fulgham said...

The show tends to be melodramatic forced, but this scene really seemed genuine. There was so much going on in that scene. It wasn't as black and white as the rest of the show. After seeing it the first time I immediately rewound to watch it again.

Kurt really was behaving inappropriately towards Fin by having an ulterior motive even though Fin made it clear he wasn't interested. But Fin's reaction was ugly, and Kurt's shame with how he behaved made him start to take in the crap Fin was spewing. Then Burt comes in and delivers that amazing speech acknowledging his own previous use of the word, and then all that stuff about the new generation.

Hot damn it was a well written scene that was so well acted and managed to sum up so many issues at once.

David Kociemba said...

I'm sorry, Jes, but I'm going to have to part ways with you on this scene. Good intentions for Ryan Murphy, I agree, but bad art and worse results. I felt like the writers cheated here by having Finn use the word.

It's a shame, because there was the development of an actually interesting conflict between Kurt and Finn, until the writers decided to play unfairly and use the word. Think about it this way: how would we react if Finn had redecorated with semi-nude girlie posters and NFL decor "for" Kurt? That's essentially what Kurt did here. Also, Kurt made all the decisions without consulting Finn, which is hardly what good roommates do. And does he even know Finn? There's nothing in that room that indicates he's appealing any of Finn's interests. It's like Kurt is in love with his fantasy of Finn. Melany's right to emphasize that Kurt's obvious ulterior motives are important to understanding this scene. (And I don't think Kurt's thought this plan through: by having Finn move in, he's moved one step closer to a step-incest scenario.)

And what underlies all of this dynamic is that Kurt's being far out of the closet drags everyone associated with him out there with him. That's great if you're Tina and choose to wear bubbles to school. But clearly Finn's not completely ready to be queer (by Ohio's standards) in all circumstances, just on stage. I read Finn's outburst as at least in part an expression of outrage about being outed without being consulted. Part of that's homophobia, part of that's fear, and part of that's legitimate outrage at loss of autonomy.

But all of that is lost once the writer's drop the f bomb and then refuse to let Finn say one word in his own defense.

What I'm saying here is not that "the word" is justifiable, because it isn't, but rather that Ryan Murphy uses it as an anvil to slam his message home through Burt and drain all life out of the scene. I really felt like he was treating me as an idiot viewer during this speech.

And it's for nothing, really, because once you have one-sided debates, you end real world discussions which are the reason you write Burt speeches in the first place. Since he never gave Finn a fair shot, it's preaching to the choir.

Possibly my distrust is based on the horror show that is the representation of disability in this series. The other part is that I find Very Special episodes offensive whatever their content, and so am utterly dismayed at the series' increasing reliance on them. That means I cut Glee no slack whatsoever. YMMV.

Dr. said...

I do think that Kurt's attempts to create an insane over-the-top room are misguided, but I wouldn't say that he's trying to seduce fin or "drag him" out of the closet with him. Kurt's queerness is a part of his daily life. He may be in love with Finn (and who, at 16, wouldn't be in love with such a dreamboat who's suddenly moving in with you?), but largely I think he redecorates the room because he wants to make a gesture, and this is the best gesture he can think of. Finn could just say, "hey, let's make some modifications here," instead of delivering his callow speech about how he "sees" Kurt looking at him. Right. Everyone looks at you, because you're Finn, and you've got charisma. Why is Kurt suddenly being pernicious for checking out the hotness that just moved into his basement? It seems only natural.

As for the "specialness" of the episode, I agree, it's forced, I think it works in the end.

David Kociemba said...

Just to clarify two points: I'm using the term queer here to mean a performed difference in expected gender roles, rather than gay or homosexual, which would mean a difference in sexual practices. That's a different form of a closet, I'll grant you, and I was unclear about that.

As for seducing Finn? Of course he is. You'll recall the episodes in which he outright stated that he was enacting a plan to get close to Finn, a plan which included advice which got Quinn kicked out of her house by her parents when Finn's song revealed that Quinn was pregnant when she hadn't told them yet. In addition, I believe an earlier episode had him encouraging his father to merge the families, with the understanding that it would... bring him closer to Finn.

Dr. said...

I agree, Kurt definitely has an investment in getting closer to Finn, which makes him no different than any other teen character on the show. I can't imagine anyone in his situation acting differently. The Finn/Quinn drama, I think, would have played out largely the same way without Kurt's 'helping' the matter along. As for his dad's relationship, that proceeds without his consent, and once he finds himself in the middle of a blended family, I imagine that he just thinks to himself: "Let's make the best of this," which is pretty much what I thought when the same thing happened to me as a kid.

I guess what makes Kurt such a dynamic character is that he isn't trying to blend in and be nice to everyone. He's happy with the catty aesthetic that he conveys, and he's going to do dumb things in the name of love for the same reasons that the other Gleeks mis-step and make mistakes. He's 16.

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