Sardonic Sistah Says

Observations… Ruminations… Ponderances… & Rants from Another Perspective

Looking at Race with Glee

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I am a Glee fan, although not a full fledged Gleek.  I didn’t see the first couple episodes but after watching the debut of a boring/predictable comedy on ABC I changed the channel and saw football players dancing to Single Ladies.  I was hooked.

The fact that it has a couple characters of color also helped to draw me in.  I have paid more attention to the music than to the fact that the characters aren’t fleshed out yet.  Sue Sylevesterisms also draws away from the minorities being barely more than stereotypes. 

Other people have caught it, though.  A recent Colorlines article compares the TV show Glee to the current politics that are playing out today with Will Shuester playing Democrats, Sue Sylvester the Republicans and people of color the requisite invisibles until needed to sing and dance or teach a lesson.

While it may be easy for some people to dismiss this as “just TV,” all television shows, no matter how fluffy or apolitical, represent a worldview—a sense of the way the world works, and sometimes, a belief in the way that it should work. Television is a more powerful medium than others for transmitting ideas about power and politics precisely because it requires the viewer to assume certain things to be true. Glee presents a social hierarchy where white men are relatable heroes, women are hysterical banshees and people of color teach lessons to the main white characters.

Colorlines, “Glee is Off Key on Race”, 18Dec09

And for the Fall Finale, Double XX writer Emily Bazelon wonders about a white agenda.

But maybe this was all a set up to lure us to the finale, in which our heroes, the still mostly white, middle-class McKinley High Glee club triumphs over teams of deaf kids and poor black girls … who cheated and who get their comeuppance. Meanwhile, gay Kurt is sidelined and even Sue seemed merely mean instead of hilarious. Am I being too sensitive, or were we set up?

Double XX Factor, “Disturbed by the Glee Finale” 10Dec2009

Michael Landweber on blogs suggests that during the brief hiatus the writers of Glee might want to take a little sensitivity training.  “In keeping with the let’s-put-on-a-show attitude,” Landweber writes. “Allow me to paraphrase a song from the great off-Broadway musical, Avenue Q.  Everyone’s a little bit racist. And so is Glee.”

I do admit, I am tired of the sassy black females and quiet Asians even if there is a catchy soundtrack but I’m willing to see how the minority characters grow and expand.  If they don’t, even the best performed songs will become played out.


Written by rentec

3 January, 2010 at 2:23 am

Posted in entertainment, pop culture, race

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