Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Glee: Infuriating Fans Since 2009

Overthinking It has been making ripples across the Interwebz of late with a series of articles on one-, two-, and three-dimensional characters, most notably the Female Character Flowchart (which has its own issues, chiefly that its gigantitude arguably negates its point, but that’s not what I want to critique today). Plenty could be said about all these articles, but the point I want to pick up on is Fenzel’s remark that

If a character lacks depth and believability on the page, the actor can provide it.

Chris Colfer understands this. At this point, Kurt Hummel is by far the best thing about Glee, and it’s not because he’s written more consistently and given more interesting things to do than the other characters (although arguably he is; that creator Ryan Murphy is rewriting the gay teen experience from a perspective of both wish-fulfilment and Aesoptinum gets more evident with every episode). No, it’s because, week in, week out, Chris Colfer delivers a performance of such depth and nuance that he elevates even the weakest material. I will admit to taking a fangirl’s delight in the appearance of Harry Potter and his puppet pals in Tolerance Narnia; as ridiculous as the whole thing was, it was the least cringe-worthy aspect of last week’s episode.

That song really sucks, though. I live in a little bubble of indie, prog, and Kelly Clarkson (WHO IS THE GREATEST POP STAR OF HER GENERATION AND AS SOON AS I HAVE ANY EVIDENCE TO SUPPORT THIS ASSERTION I WILL PRESENT IT TO YOU), so my familiarity with the songs featured on the show is variable, but I like it best when they do great show tunes or interesting reinterpretations of classic pop songs. From my point of view, a lot of the music this season has been kind of terrible. It’s the missed opportunities that sting the most, though: imagine if ‘Grilled Cheesus’ had featured, instead of the not-really-relevant ‘Losing My Religion’ sung insipidly by the insipid Finn, Kurt singing XTC’s ‘Dear God’. Or Sue singing it. Or both of them singing it, as one of those neat cross-cut duets the show used to do? *dies from the thought of what might have been*

The most recent episode featured a couple of fun mash-ups, so I guess it wasn’t all bad. What was all bad was the treatment of Coach Beiste, which was a veritable shag-pile of WTF. I watched in horror as the show drained away everything I love about the walking factory of awesome that was pre-‘Never Been Kissed’ Coach Beiste. First we were invited to laugh at her in an unbelievably mean-spirited way, and then we were fed the vomitous rom-com line that every woman, whoever she is and whatever she’s accomplished, wants nothing more in life than for a boy to tell her she’s pretty – preferably in the form of a hideously patronizing pep-talk and pity-smooch from Will Douchester, who is fast becoming the show’s least likable character.

Also, she’s not gay, you know. Well, why the heck not? Kurt Hummel began life as the most flamboyant acculturation of gay male clich├ęs in TV history, and through a combination of increased airtime and brilliant acting has transformed before our eyes into the most well-rounded member of the ensemble. Why not do something similar for the gay ladies?

While I’m at it, what is this show’s problem with women, anyway? No other show literalizes the virgin/whore dichotomy so thoroughly. On the one hand, Santana and Brittany are the school bicycles, maliciously stealing the virginities of male characters Finn and Artie in between screwing every other guy in school and fooling around with each other (which is both a telling comment on the show’s portrayal of bisexuality, and the only bone thrown to the gay ladies).

However, while both Finn and Artie regret losing their virginity, they quickly get over it and certainly do not suffer in any discernible way. Contrast this with the one female character we have seen lose her virginity (since Rachel and Emma choose to stay chaste and wholesome, while Coach Beiste is actually a 40-year-old virgin – I hope she has a large and well-loved collection of vibrators). Quinn submits to pressure from Puck, who is of course promiscuous without being judged, and is punished with pregnancy, loss of her social status, and getting kicked out of her parents’ home. After spending a season paying the price for her one foray into whoredom, she has earned back her place on the virgin side of the tracks, and she’s staying there now that she’s learned her lesson. Hmmm...

That’s probably enough TV Tropes links for one blog post. (Sorry about those hours of your life you’ll never get back.) To put it succinctly:

Glee, please try harder.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Public Service Announcement

I know I haven't updated in ages - blame the killer combination of NaNoWriMo (25,844 and counting!) and indentured servitude. I didn't even have time to watch TV last week (shock, horror, etc.). Rest assured, gentle readers, I have not forgotten you. I am totally working on some interesting posts that will be up here as soon as I have the time to pummel them into presentability.

In the meantime, if your life is a little deficient in the awesome department, I recommend this free download of Altered Sky's EP. If you like catchy rock songs with the hint of prog sensibilities, lady drummers, and things that are awesome, your socks will be comprehensively rocked.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The five stages of NaNoWriMo

Remember November 2005? (Actually, I don't particularly, but saying that ruins my rhetorical flourish.) It was a time of peace and sanity, or at any rate it was no more or less so than any other month of the year. Fastforward a year, and it's the momentous occasion of my first NaNoWriMo. Lo, November would never be the same for me again.

Using sophisticated algorithms, I have calculated the inevitable stages through which a NaNo participant must pass in the course of the exercise. Behold, the Five Stages of NaNoWriMo:

1. Anticipation
In the build-up to November, in the planning stages, or (if you've failed to plan) in the moments before you write the first sentence that comes into your head, you'll feel excitement writhing inside of you, and you just know that this year is It. This year will be The Big One, the novel so brilliant that someone from Penguin will read your excerpt on your NaNo profile and send you an email begging to be allowed to publish a work of such almighty genius. Savor this feeling; you won't get it again until this time next year.

2. Terror
May also strike in the planning stages, especially if you have no good ideas. Will definitely strike as you confront that blank page and realize that you could write literally anything. Seriously - "hammock pancake cheesecake folderol, bebop in the clown's competitive jugular" is probably a sentence in somebody's novel this year. What if you're reduced to that? Get used to this feeling. It will be your constant companion this month.

3. Exhilaration
Oh my God, this is IT! Inspiration is striking you like lightning at all hours of the night and day! You are the greatest writer the world has ever known, and this novel is the most scintillating work of literature ever conceived! Every sentence that flows from your fingertips is an ambrosial delight! Every new plot and character development is being emailed straight into your brain by God himself! This stage will not last very long.

4. Despair
Why are you wasting your time on this steaming pile of feces? You are the worst writer the world has ever known, and this novel is a suppurating pustule on literature's rear end. You will never write anything worthwhile. You are wasting an entire month, shirking your duties and biting your friends' heads off in an overcaffeinated frenzy, and all you have to show for it is the febrile drivelings of a witless dunderhead. You should just give up.

5. Insanity
Cheesecake folderol in the clown's bebop flibbertigibbet!!! Everybody's doing it!