Thursday, 6 January 2011

Glee & Queer Bullying: "Sometimes It Doesn't Get Better"

"'It Gets Better' has a certain power to it. It is impossible not to be moved by the refrain of pain in many of the videos. But the project has two major problems. The first is that sometimes it doesn't get better. The reality is that class, race, poverty, gender presentation, geography, support systems, physical abilities, and a whole host of other issues place all kids at risk. For a lot of teens this combination can be overwhelming and, in the end, it just doesn't get better. Often it gets worse. The second problem is even more serious. As a political organizing tool, It Gets Better fails to urge people to make changes now, to take action to stop the bullying, to find concrete solutions to this problem. Sure, some of the videos urge kids to tell their teachers and their principals to step in if someone is being bullied and that there are places they can get help, but there is no systematic, sustained approach for affecting change. Indeed, the very notion that It Gets Better presumes that change happens through the passage of time, not that you have to work to make it better.
"Glee, a carefully written and produced TV show, chronicles the emotional and musical travails of a high school glee club. It also deals with high school bullying—in particular the bullying of Kurt, an openly gay member of the glee club. In the November shows, the bullying reached such extremes that Kurt faced death threats and had to change schools.
"So what could be bad about a hugely popular television show that sympathetically exposes the bullying of an openly gay teen? Actually, a lot..."

From an article in the new issue of ZMagazine, Glee and Queer Bullying, by the ever brilliant American critic Michael Bronski.

Cartoon from Z Magazine.

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