Sunday, March 20, 2011
Connections: Glee Episodes, Raby and Grinner
When viewing these three episodes of Glee (Pilot, Never Been Kissed and Furt) as texts, comparitively, they seem to transcend limitations and boundaries more than other contemporary television shows. There are a variety of characters who fall into different categories and experience different forms of oppression because of their identities. For example, there is a disabled character whose disability is not ignored but is also represented in a limiting light. The same concept goes for Kurt, since he is a gay character who ultimately receives support from many of his peers but is represented in a limited way. These teenage characters are displayed with alternative lifestyles than those depicted commonly (dominant ideology in the media as discussed by Grinner), however, they are still stereotypical. There is a lot of focus on problems like bullying and emotional intensity in the teenage years, which is based on real-life problems teens are facing today. However, by representing this issue in the media, in a sense it is perpetuating ideas discussed by Raby such as "the storm." Reputations seem to be very important at the high school that the show takes place at, making teenagers seem shallow, stupid, vapid and clique-y at many points in the show. While reputations are in fact something that many teenagers think about, these representations also send messages to those who perhaps aren't so aware of those kinds of social dynamics, and it becomes hard to distinguish whether stereotypes have any validity or if teenagers are conditioned by media like Glee and emulate what they see re-presented to them. In terms of SCWAAMP, the show appears to promote messages such as equality when it is not necessarily doing so. Though there are gay characters featured on the show, it is still predominantly hetero-centric. It focuses around themes like marriage and having babies without recognizing these things as institutional mechanisms that do not help us acheive equality. In the marriage scene in Furt, it is clear that the wedding is based on Christian tradition and a priest is marrying the couple and therefore holds authority. The characters on the show are predominantly white, and the representations of non-white characters are fairly stereotypical. There are no characters featured in these three episodes who are not American. There is one character who is not able-bodied, and he is shown as someone who needs a lot of help and is often victimized by peers without having discussion about why this is an issue that deserves attention. The females on the show, such as the cheerleading squad, definitely are shown trying to dumb themselves down and cater to male characters like Puck in the restaurant scene, which shows that the male characters are given more power in the show. Finally, none of the teen characters are property owners, however, in the scene in which Puck is singing outside on the steps with a guitar, they mysteriously gather 300 dollars from performing. What teenagers randomly have so many dollar bills to spare? The whole show is different at first glance, but when analyzed more closely it is clear that dominant ideology and stereotypical discourses for representing teenagers are both at play here.