Wednesday, 9 June 2010


When I first started watching Glee it was because it appealed to my closeted star. Most of us have one, he/she usually dreams of singing to packed houses but is either too scared to try, or knows they don't quite have the talent to match the dreams.

I'm mostly the former with a splash of the latter so this show was right up my alley. Even better, it was something i could watch with my teenage niece. There aren't too many programs around that we're equally crazy about.

Sure, the characters were mostly caricatures, the situations were straight from a soap opera and there wasn't a single character I really liked. Don't get me wrong, I didn't dislike them, I was just indifferent.

As such, Glee was a fun piece of escapism and nothing more. It had charm and I forgave it it's flaws.

The disabled boy, the gay character, the pregnant teen, the fat girl, to me they were all just token characters, there to either be politically correct or to be sensationalist. I was very cynical.

I kept those views for the most of the first half of the season. We were slowly given an insight into a few of their lives, but for the most part Glee was a very superficial show.

Then things started to change. Will grew a backbone. Of all the characters I suppose Will Schuester was my favourite, though that's not saying a lot. He was a weedy, wimpy bleeding heart liberal who talked a good game but didn't deliver. Week after week I wanted to bash his head in for being a doormat to his wife and the cheerleading coach, I wanted to beat some sense into him so he could see the lies. I mean, come on, man! My dogs wouldn't have put up with his wife's behaviour, and they lick their own arses!!!

Then one day, Will finds out the truth. It was a fleeting moment of real anger, but it made me sit up and watch. Hmm, maybe there was more to Mr Nice Guy than just a good voice. I wondered if this could not only last, but even spread to some of the other characters.

And low and behold it did. The pregnant girl, Quinn's lies were discovered, then she got kicked out of her house when her parents found out about the baby. Fat became an issue for Mercedes, the fat girl. Homophobia became an issue for Kurt, the gay kid. The disabled boy, Artie's dreams of walking were horribly (but honestly) crushed.

Fat girls do not miraculously get slim over night and have all their problems solved. They have to learn to love themselves for who they are, fat or thin.

Pregnancy isn't pleasant. At the best of times it drives most women a little crazy and I don't mean that mothers to be are hormonal. I'm talking about peeing every five minutes, loss of mobility, the inability to tie ones own shoe laces, loss of self, financial worries and worry over doing the right thing. Most adults have a hard time with this, teenagers have it even harder.

Paralysed people rarely walk again. For some lucky ones the damage to the spine isn't permanent (eg it caused by pressure on the spine) or isn't total and some function can be regained. Sadly for the majority, spinal injuries are life long. Artie didn't just get up and walk again because he hoped hard enough or dreamed long enough. It sucks. That's life. But do you know what? Artie didn't let it ruin his life. He took the blows, dusted himself off and carried on.

Homophobia can be very damaging to young gay men. They learn that to be accepted they need to change, hide certain aspects of themselves, laugh along with the gay jokes and try to fit in. Then along comes Kurt. Flamboyant, fey and shameless. His father loves him but admits he doesn't know how to handle it. The bullies pick on him, but Kurt fires right back with his barbed wit. He knows who he is and he knows there's nothing wrong with him. He flirts with "playing it straight" but knows that's not who he is. I don't blame gay men (or women) who do chose to hide their sexuality to fit in, but I am glad they have an out and proud role model on network TV.

Real life was beginning to interrupt this sugar coated world, and I was liking the results.

As the series progressed there were some real hardships coming to the fore, some real emotions poking through the shiny fa├žade, and some real strength of character being shown in over coming these obstacles.

Are there still cartoonish plots? Sure. Are some characters still over the top? Absolutely. The only real difference? Now the show has heart.

For every soap opera plot line, over the top acting and sickly sweet scenario, there's also a truth being spoken.

For every unbelievable scene, like a headmaster believing that vampires are real, there's a moving scene, like Kurt's father comparing f*g to the N word.

Glee is truly unique television. It takes the things you shouldn't like (like show choir and fat people) or the issues that society as a whole shuns (like disability and homosexuality) and by making them cool, hopefully make the viewers question their own prejudices.

I've just touched on some of the issues raised in Glee, the more prominent ones or the ones that most spoke to me, but I think most kids are represented here. There's something for everyone and I hope in season 2 and 3 that Glee never forgets when it's at it's best. In other words, when the sublime compliments the ridiculous.

Thursday, 3 June 2010

Couple of things.

I have a few things to say but nothing worthy of it's own post, so here's a few mini posts.

Living a lie

This story about a gay man's journey towards coming out left me with very mixed feelings.

First of all, I can almost literally feel his pain. As normal as homosexuality is for me, I really do see how much prejudice is out there. I also know what it's like to live a lie, a lie you cant even admit to yourself, a lie that literally threatens to destroy you.

What I cant forgive though, and what is glossed over in this tale, is involving an innocent in that lie, namely his wife.

While he was living his lie, he always had a choice. A difficult choice, no doubt, but he chose to live that lie. He didn't give his wife a choice. When he was living that life he lied to her face, time and again. To ad insult to injury, when he made another choice to come out, he didn't even give her the respect of telling her first and hearing her input into she'd like things handled.

When he chose to stay in the closet, he had another choice. Play the playboy role, living it up with a gaggle of different women, women he wouldn't necessarily even have to sleep with, just be seen with. Or he could play the loving husband and father. One way doesn't hurt anyone, the other does. He made the wrong choice.

For 9 years or more, Wayne, you lied to her face every single day, either directly or by omission but you make no acknowledgement of that fact.

Whether you're gay, straight or bi-sexual, women are not yours to play with. We are not on this earth to make men's lives easier, we are not playthings you can use when convenient and disguard when you change your mind. We are people with our own thoughts, emotions and feelings. We deserve your respect, regardless of whether you are sexually attracted to us or not.

You used that poor women for 9 years and then discarded her when you decided you didn't what that lie any more. That is why I don't have any sympathy for you.

The BP Oil Spill.

I must confess I'm not a green. I don't cancel out my carbon foot print and I'm undecided about global warming since both sides make a compelling case (though the falsified data from the University of East Anglia does sway me slightly to the con side of the argument).

So when the oil spill happened I wasn't jumping all over BP. Accidents happen, they seemed to be trying to clear the problem up and I thought some people were being very harsh, especially considering how little is said over the 1.5 millions tons of oil Shell spilled in the Niger Delta (that's 50 times more than the Exxon Valdez spilled).

I was cynical, everyone was up in arms over poor America and it's wildlife, but not the Nigerians. I guess Nigeria isn't news worthy. I don't like hypocrisy and I didn't like how worked some people were about one while ignoring the other.

In recent days though I'm changing my mind.

Stories like this, in which BP are actively trying to hide the damage done to wildlife.

And this report, which shows that BP knew there were problems with the well and to save money, opted not to follow safety precautions.

Then (though I can't for the life of me remember where I saw this) we have the theory that BP wanted the junk shot to fail at blocking the spill because it really would prefer to drill 2 relief wells so it can still collect (and sell) the oil. Yes, it's borderline "conspiracy theory" but it does give me pause.

As much as I would hate for Britain to lose an(other) industry giant, I fear PB will not survive this. I also fear that by then, I'll think they deserve it.

You done wrong, BP. Stop hiding and trying to finesse your way out of blame. Admit it, do your best to stop the damage and then throw yourself on the public's mercy. I believe this is your only change of survival.