le plus loin le plus serré

le plus loin le plus serré
mourning art

in memoriam

"yet I tell you, from the sad knowledge of my older experience, that to every one of you a day will most likely come when sunshine, hope, presents and pleasure will be worth nothing to you in comparison with the unattainable gift of your mother's kiss." (Christina Rossetti, "Speaking Likenesses," 1873)

Monday, November 22, 2010

teenage dream: Glee and gay boys

I watch Glee with a mix of delight and frustration; it's inconsistent, it has an infuriating habit of starting, then dropping, plotlines, it has an obnoxious tendency toward "special" episodes of guest stars or themes that disrupt any momentum the show may have developed. But it also has some great secondary characters (ones who chew up that scenery like crazy), some thoughtful and captivating plotlines, and the best parent on TV.

A couple of weeks ago, Glee hit it out of the ballpark with "Never Been Kissed." I've been thinking about this episode a lot, and not just because it introduces a new location, an all-boys high school that I have been referring to as gay hogwarts (it's the blazers and the senior common room that got me).

THE moment of that episode is Kurt's visit to gay Hogwarts, when he meets adorable Blaine, who sings with the Warblers, the school glee club. In this delirious alternate-reality, the Warblers are "like, rockstars" who stage impromptu performances in the aforementioned common room. Blaine and his cohorts launch into a cover of Katy Perry's "Teenage Dream," sung to Kurt (played with even more than usual aplomb by the staggeringly fantastic Chris Colfer, about whom I cannot say enough in praise).

Watching the episode the first time, I kind of groaned; I don't really like the song and so that made the moment less charming than hoped for.
But then I read the post Tom and Lorenzo wrote about the episode. And ever since reading that post, I can't stop thinking about "Never Been Kissed."

TLo write:

Sure, teenage romantic fantasies are inherently silly to adults because they come from a place of such inexperience and naivete, but they serve an important function in the sexual development of kids. They train them to dream about the best possible outcome. Just as they've been trained their whole lives as to how to make that outcome happen.

Which is some incredibly astute theorizing on adolescent fantasies about romance.
And then, because they're amazing, TLo go on to say:
Teenagers see thousands of murders depicted onscreen by the time they reach 18 but most of them never see a boy kiss another boy or sing him a sweet love song. You want to prevent gay kids from killing themselves? Push for more scenes like the above. Giving a young gay boy the dream that someday Prince Charming will come and sing a love song to him? You cannot imagine. You simply cannot imagine how revolutionary such a thing is.

And even though I spend my days thinking about queerness, thinking about adolescence and childhood and queerness, even though I was more aware (and I sincerely hope, more sensitive) of queer issues when I was in high school - despite all that, TLo are absolutely right: I cannot imagine. I simply cannot imagine how revolutionary such a thing is.

Because of the way criticism works, though, and because I think about what I read, I am beginning to both imagine and understand how revolutionary such a thing is.
even if Glee falls apart again, even if the show goes downhill from here, I will be thoughtful and thankful for this episode that shows us - not in a jokey dream sequence, not in a way we giggle or sneer at - the teenage dreams of a gay boy.

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