So. I’m going to go down a road today. I don’t know where it will lead. Bear with me.
Last night, I tuned in to watch a recorded episode of Glee and I’ve decided to just…give up watching cold turkey. I’ve been disappointed with the show for a long time, hung on for reasons I didn’t fully understand: the music woven through story, the memory of a first season that had such a delicious dark humor.
The show has lost all that was smart about it. No longer a commentary on the absurdity of high school, it shed all its gleeful irony. Became preachy, melodramatic, a sappy soap opera that forced me to keep a waste-bucket near should I feel the urge to puke (which turned out to be every .5 seconds.)
The main reason this show lost all its appeal for me? The writing. Which I can only describe as appallingly bad. The characters became puppets. The writers took each character, threw it into a situation, forced it to to spit-up dialogue that made absolutely no sense given all the character had been through before it. Character motives were messy. Storylines had strange beginnings, no middle, and unearned neat endings that left me WTF-ing.
And then they took on ‘issues’. Or, I should say, they repeatedly took on one issue: bullying. Or, I should say, they repeatedly took on one issue: bullying gay teenagers.
The first time, one gay teen endured months of bullying, then made the decision to leave schools (then return to the school for unexplained reasons. Wait. What?)
The second time, a bullying teen herself was publicly outed as gay and promptly disowned by a family member (there has been absolutely no followup to this storyline.)
The third time, a bullying teen himself, struggling to come out, immediately attempted suicide after one week of being tormented through facebook, twitter, tumblr (the show really enjoyed ticking off the likely social media suspects.)
I respect any medium that attempts to deal with this issue. It is admirable. It is vitally important.
I can not respect a show that takes on the issue three times and fails.
In my opinion, the show has done a great job accurately portraying what is really happening out there. Bullied gay teens are forced to leave their schools, they are ostracized by family members, and they are attempting suicide, among a host of other scenarios the show will, no doubt, take on in the future.
However, the show has failed to leave us with the message we need to hear: THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE.
Instead we get the I’m-better-off-dead, the maybe-someday-Grandma-will-love-me-again, the wistful dream of a better future, group hugs, and tears, tears, tears.
Here you have a show with a massive media following frenzy. And they take the bullying issue, grab it by the horns over and over, beat me over the head, again and again with it and what? Slink quietly into the shadows…
Where is the character who, rather than sitting in a hospital bed crying next to some dead flowers, stands up and shouts: SCREW ALL OF YOU. I’M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE.
File this under: Missed. Opportuntity. Repeated missed opportunity.
I’m so upset about this. I mean, really upset. As in tossed and turned over it, wrote a stupid, ranting blog post, wondered what am I doing with my life, I should be setting up my own massive media frenzy following with my own anti-bullying campagin, why am I so freaking useless, upset.
A lot of you write for children and teens. Some of you are children and teens (I think there’s, um, one of you who reads my blog.) What do you think we can do to strike a better balance? To accurately portray an issue and, at the same time, send the message: THIS IS HAS TO STOP. NOW. Who does this right? What am I missing?