Dw. Dunphy On… The Gleek Translation

Written by Dw. Dunphy On..., Television

There’s an awful lot that Popdose’s Dw. Dunphy doesn’t get. Here’s something else.

There is no subtle way into this post, so let me just grab the band-aid and rip it off.

Last year, editor-in-chief Jeff Giles wrote a television review about the show Glee. In case you are a reader who hasn’t seen the piece yet, you can check it out here. If you’re not all that interested, the long/short is that Jeff found it pleasant but not thoroughly engaging. It was something he would get back to when the mood strikes him. Overall, it was a positive but not necessarily enthusiastic summation.

That post is on track to become one of our most popular posts ever, in the history of the site, just behind the Beatles Remasters posts. It’s even breathing on the neck of the Front Page as our most viewed item. The recent GQ Magazine photographs made things worse; where “Glee” was the second most grabbed search engine term, now we had “Glee Pics,” “Glee Photos,” “Glee Pictures,” and “Glee Images,” all squatting in our top ten like Okies and Arkies tenting out by the orchard.

So I have to ask the question, I can’t deny it any longer, and I’ve been trying to be the shepherd. I’ve been trying REAL HARD. tamp down the curiosity. Frankly, my obsessive-compulsive tendencies have been getting a workout from my abstaining, but like a tiny kid with a tiny bladder and a Super Big Gulp, I can’t hold it any longer.

What do you see in Glee?

I don’t find it to be the worst show on TV, far from that. That’s usually reserved for anything harboring terms like “Trump,” “Bachelor(ette)” or “Guido.” But I don’t think it’s the best show either, not by a longshot. It’s a good bowl of oatmeal to me. It fills you up, it scrapes your colon clean if you get the natural, steel-cut oats, it keeps you from dying of malnutrition and, more often than not, it tastes pretty okay too. It ain’t Cookie Crisp. It ain’t Boo Berry. It most certainly ain’t French omelet and crepes. Some people really dig their oatmeal though, and if they also enjoy keeping their armpit hair to legal length, doing the Downward-Facing Dog, and reject patchouli outright, so much the better. My bloodied and belabored point is that, as a television show, Glee‘s not bad and could be much worse. Most of the show’s fans are, generally, a good bunch of eggs (Mmmmm. French omelet). I simply don’t get it, personally.

But then, there is a whole new subsection of fan adulation and they call themselves “Gleeks.” That would be a portmanteau word for Glee geeks, ‘natch. They don’t love the show. They LOVE the show. In a music industry in its death throes, the Glee Soundtracks have consistently sold well, and the reality that these are mostly covers of other people’s work hasn’t deterred the faithful one bit. Hey, if it works for Rod Stewart, I suppose it can work for a bunch of perky 20-somethings. The ratings have been a stellar godsend for Fox, as most standard broadcast networks have been worrying about what future goners will replace the last batch of goners they just kicked off. Fox isn’t immune – Lone Star lasted two, three episodes? If they just filled those time-slots with Glee reruns, the Gleeks will probably tune in. They’re like Star Wars fans, except a Star Wars fan eventually ends up with a basement full of toys and their virginity intact. I made a Star Wars Virgin joke! Welcome to rock bottom comedy!

I never really got musicals in general. If Glee does something very well, it’s that the series is set in circumstances where characters will break out in song. It’s a glee club, for crying out loud. A glee club that doesn’t break out into song is a mime class. When a movie gets you to a point of interest, and then out of nowhere the invisible orchestra swells, the townsfolk start doing cartwheels and the heroine breaks into an aria about washing her clothes, I check out. That doesn’t happen in real life. That doesn’t even happen on Broadway. If you want that kind of behavior, you buy a ticket and go inside.

There are exceptions to this rule, as there always are. I’ve tabulated some of them below to illustrate where I’m coming from.

Witches, midgets and poppies. Oh my! – If your story is clearly a fantasy, then the fact that the watering can is singing and dancing is hardly the strangest aspect of your story.

Black and white – It’s easier to accept song-and-dance numbers when filmed in black and white mostly because nobody films in black and white anymore. When even the crappiest of Hollywood fare arrives in stunning color, digital surround sound and 3-D, even a fart joke seems more realistic. Black and white assists the ol’ suspension of disbelief a whole lot, just as oatmeal assists constipation relief and the lowering of cholesterol a whole lot.

Danny Kaye – You dare dis Danny Kaye? I will smack you so hard.

Fascism – Don’t snigger. Wartime makes people do crazy things. It makes them quit the convent to tutor a bunch of snotty, privileged Austrians. It makes them wash that man right out of their hair and send him on his way. It makes them dream of a White Christmas. Yes, war is hell, but it’s in pitch.

The controversy over the Glee pictures has to be addressed too, finding a male castmember sandwiched between two nubile female castmembers – he in relatively modest attire, they in less. Much less. The grouse came from the PTC (That’s Parents Television Council, not Praise The Clicker) which took offense to the characters from the show, two young female students, straddling their male glee club leader, also a student. The PTC  equated the pictures to pedophilia, showing off these under-age girls in overtly sexualized ways for the pleasure of GQ’s older, maler, probably horny demographic. The one problem with that is that all the actors are above the age of consent; they only play hot-and-bothered kids on TV. We call this the Luke Perry Paradigm, as it was also introduced on a Fox show and, therefore, can be entered into evidence.

So yes, the PTC is accused of lumping the characters in with the reality that they’re only characters, played by actors. They are right about one thing though: this is a major misstep for the show’s handlers. Just like female pop stars through the past few decades, their sexuality is being made a huge selling point via this cover. It is every high school kid’s fantasy come true about Jennie the field hockey girl, rolled up in a periodical, hence the sudden explosion of searches for those photos leading readers to Popdose. (Yes, we’ll gladly take your traffic though. I’m totally a hypocrite). The problem is that the show is being offered up as family fare – slightly more risque, PG-14 family fare, but the same regardless. Glee is, in many ways, the beneficiary of the fans Disney’s High School Musical fostered. By going this route with the pictures, this soon into the phenomenon, Fox, show creator Ryan Murphy and the cover posers themselves risk choking off their fanbase with a pair of hot-pink panties. If they really had to give the people what they want, they could’ve waited a few years at least, grow into their feelings, because it’s better when you’re in love, and not just running rampant to hormones and…

…Wait, where was I going with this?

Oh yeah, now I remember. I, as someone who just doesn’t get the show, would like to ask you, the many, who do. What does it for you? Has the magazine shoot caused you to reconsider your ardor, or do you consider this just so much tempest in teapot? Do you really think their cover of “Don’t Stop Believing” is better than the original (which I’m so very sick of too)? I’m not asking because I secretly harbor feelings of Gleek wannabe-ism. I really don’t; but as someone as invested in pop culture phenomena as I am, it would help if I had an understanding why you connect and why I don’t.

Maybe I’m just old? I should eat more oatmeal.

In closing, I’ve disclosed that I don’t “get” Glee, musicals, breaking out in song in bizarre, public places or sexy vampires. (Did I say sexy vampires? A topic for another day). In the meantime, here are some other things that I don’t get.

Watching movies on an iPod or on a smart-phone – There are many ways to go blind in this life. I guarantee most are a lot more fun than watching Avatar again on your mobile device.

Robert Smith – You’re a rock icon. You’ve fashioned a legacy of great music. You can stop with the wacky make-up now. You don’t look moody anymore. You don’t even look like John Wayne Gacy’s British cousin. You look like George Lucas in drag. Stop it.

Acai berries – a-Ky? A-sah-ee? Miracle weight loss superfood, my big fat butt, and getting fatter from drinking this lousy superfood.

Ben Stiller – How much does it suck that his parents, even in this day and age, are so much more entertaining than him?

Complaining – You checked out paragraphs ago when you realized I wasn’t reposting the GQ pictures here, right? Ah well, everyone’s got an opinion, no?

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P.S. This article was written before the airing of the show’s Rocky Horror Picture Show tribute episode which raked in a hefty 11.5 million viewers, thereby trouncing any concerns over a magazine cover backlash into the dust. As you were, half-naked Glee people. You’ve obviously got more insight into this thing than I do.