Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Melissa's blog post #2

Glee: On My Way Episode and its Representation of Bullying Today

            As we have learned in our class, the LGBTQ community has always been misrepresented, not represented at all, or widely ignored throughout history. On the television show Glee, Kurt has been a representation of the stereotypical flamboyant white, gay, male teenager in an Ohio high school. However in this specific episode a character named David Karofsky, who had ironically bullied Kurt for his sexual orientation, was bullied for being gay as well which led to his attempt to commit suicide. One scene in this episode shows David being verbally harassed both personally to his face and online as well, then his decision to end his life. This scene can be found in the link below. Fortunately David’s father found him with enough time to get him to the hospital and save his life. The following scene shows the principal discussing the issue with a group of teachers about how to tell the other students about the incident. The principal does not want to get involved, but the teachers stand up and bring up the question: “How can we fix or change this?”
            This scene brings up the many issues that Nan Stein discussed in her article, “Bullying, Harassment and Violence Among Students” such as the idea that the term bullying is too broad of a term, and that laws are not holding school administrators liable, therefore the responsibility of solving the problem is put on the victim (Stein 49). David receives abuse when his teammates write the word “fag” on his locker, and he is also harassed when they write words on his Facebook wall like “go back in the closet.”  Under some school policies, this is technically not bullying because there was no physical harm done to him. What does this say about our society nowadays? It should not matter how a person was abused because the in the end, the effect was an attempted suicide. In the scene, the school discusses how they should tell other students, but does not hold themselves responsible in any way. The principal wanted no further involvement in the issue and if it weren’t for the teachers there would not have been changes made in the school.
         This episode also applies to Mary Gray’s article “From Websites to Wal-Mart: Youth, Identity Work, and the Queering of Boundary Publics in Small Town, USA” because the show takes place in Lima, Ohio. It is depicted as the typical small town in the mid-west that is not very accepting of the LGBTQ community. It is an example of the arguments that Mary made in her article about what constitutes urban areas as gay-friendly zones that gay youths in rural areas should flock to (Gray 50). It also relates to her idea that technology plays a role in how these queer youths view their rural living areas (Gray 51). Kurt has verbalized in past seasons that the town needs to be more accepting, and that there are “only ignorant people here.” In this season both he and another character Rachel are trying to attend a performing arts college in New York. Though he wants to go for the love of the school, Kurt has also mentioned that it would be a more gay-friendly environment for him to live in.
         This episode of Glee has depicted the LGBTQ community in rural areas, and has also depicted the troubles that are still faced with the community today: bullying and harassment. This scene is a good representation of the struggles that are still occurring today and still follow the LGBTQ community.

Stein, Nan, “Bullying, Harassment and Violence Among Students” 2007, volume 80

Gray, Mary “From Websites to Wal-Mart: Youth, Identity Work, and the Queering of Boundary Publics in Small Town, USA” American Studies, Volume 8

Glee season 3, episode 14 scene http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oDFBnpmiIz4 

1 comment:

  1. What I found interesting about the bullying on Glee is how the bullying is treated in various situations. Karosfksy’s attempted suicide drew attention from the school administrators, but only after he was pushed to that point. In the episode, the teachers discuss the incident and how they all should have seen the possibility of Karofsky hurting himself. Unfortunately, they don’t really address the bullying as much as they address what he did to hurt himself. Again, there is a fundamental issue in how schools address and reprimand students for bullying, something that Nan Stein points out in her article. I would also like to point out how Karofsky’s situation was treated differently from Santana’s. In the episode “Mash Off”, she is essentially outed in the middle of a hallway by Finn after she throws insults at him. Santana is criticized for her insults, but Finn is hardly reprimanded for revealing her sexual identity to a large portion of the student population. I think this is an issue of identifying types of bullying. School administrators can see physical violence and insulting language as bullying, but as Stein points out, there is a disconnect when it comes to sexual harassment and bullying based upon one’s sexuality. Glee is notorious for depicting some sides of the LGBTQ community and certain aspects of bullying, but missing key issues in their attempts. As you pointed out, the fact that Kurt attempts to resolve things by telling Karofsky that things will be better once Lima is left behind is troubling. It makes it seem as though there is no hope that the administrators will make a change in the system because it is a rural, narrow-minded town. Rather than making Lima, Ohio the issue, it is the bullying and harassment should be changed, not the students’ location.

    Stein, Nan, “Bullying, Harassment and Violence Among Students” 2007, volume 80

    - (Carla De Santiago)