You Can Lead A Girl to the Va-Jay-Jay, But You Can’t Make Her Stay
By now, all the universe’s sentient creatures are aware that Brittany S. Pierce kissed Sam Evans and that a new Glee romance is afoot. Brittany and Sam’s stolen, clandestine moment (it’s a heterosexual relationship, after all) took place during the show’s 75th episode, “Swan Song,” which aired December 6, 2012.
The episode’s writer, Stacy Traub, got it right when she had Brittany warn Sam, ahead of the kiss, that lesbian bloggers would be up in arms if Brittany took a furlough from being a lesbian (Brittany and girlfriend Santana Lopez officially broke it off several episodes ago when Santana moved out of state.)
A relationship with Sam was doomed, Brittany explained, because of:
all the lesbians of the nation—and I don’t know how they found out about Santana and I dating—but once they did they started sending me Tweets and Facebook messages…. I think it means a lot to them to see two, super hot popular girls in love.
The obvious implication was that if a hot girl who used to date a hot girl started dating a hot guy, that would be the kind of betrayal that no self-respecting woman-loving-woman could tolerate and that, en masse, lesbians would take to their keyboards. Worse, they might “get really violent and hurt [Sam’s] beautiful face and mouth.”
Just as Traub predicted in this sly, fourth-wall-shattering meta-moment, the lesblogosphere dutifully began to curdle with invective as soon as the episode aired.
One especially annoying example will suffice: Tracy E. Gilchrist’s retro and unbalanced “Ryan Murphy and ‘Glee’ Flip a Giant Middle Finger to the Show’s Lesbian Fans,” published December 7, 2012 on SheWired.com.
What Gilchrist is mad about is that Glee’s writers and producers—but especially Ryan Murphy, an openly gay man—have somehow abandoned a commitment I bet they didn’t know they made to portray “positive lesbian images” on a prime-time sitcom. In fact, Gilchrist’s entire article is a condemnation of how television has failed in the shiny, happy lesbian department, including in such shows as American Horror Story and Nip/Tuck. Oh, wait. Both of those are Murphy creations, too. Maybe Gilchrist is really just mad at Ryan Murphy.
Which leads one to wonder: Isn’t it just a smidge hypocritical to say, on the one hand, that the episode’s writer falsely and lesbophobically imagined a nonexistent lesbian menace (as Gilchrist put it, a “big unidentifiable mass of angry dykes”) who would “turn on” Sam with violence once word got out about the new Brittany/Sam relationship and then, on the other, write a column in which you urge presumptively pissed-off lesbians to rise up in outrage against Glee’s creator for being “shitty” and “hateful” to lesbians?
Or put it another way: It’s one thing to accuse “Murphy [of] fulfilling the old stereotype of the lesbian-hating gay man” (Gilchrist insists on referring to Murphy throughout her screed, though he didn’t write or direct “Swan Song”). It’s another to be a lesbian and accuse a gay man of being lesbian-hating. The “old stereotype” cuts both ways, doesn’t it, Tracy?
Now, if what we’re really missing is a return to the snarky, pointless carping about “representative images” that tied queer arts in knots and stifled everyone’s creativity during the 1980s and 1990s, I’ll bet I could come up with a few things to complain about, too.
- Why does the character of Brittany, who is genuinely too stupid to live, present such a negative image of blonde women?
- Why is Chris Colfer’s Kurt such a fey little creature? (Boy, did Carmen Tibideaux nail it when she said Kurt lacked emotional depth.)
- Why can’t Darren Criss ever manage to pull off credibility as a young gay man for more than about a minute at a time, and why have the show’s directors allowed him to limit his “gay” characterizations to simpering and/or weeping?
- With all those great young women of color on Glee, how come the show is never about them? Racism anyone?
This is a game anyone can play at home. All you have to do is pretend it’s 1985 and, wherever you look, queer and non-mainstream characters are all but invisible on TV, in film, in literature, or as celebrities, talk show hosts, news anchors, or politicians.
Then you work up a head of steam by insisting that Hollywood has a “responsibility”—not to depict real life, but to present “positive” images of your favorite minority group. (What is considered “positive,” by the way, is determined by a two-thirds vote at plenary sessions of the Homintern, Lesbintern, and Blackintern, held each year in February in various cities across the globe.)
Never mind that Glee has regularly and faithfully tackled, in its charming and superficial way, such issues as bullying, transphobia, sizeism, domestic violence, ableism, homophobia, bulemia, and classism, among many other causes-du-jour. Never mind that that “Swan Song” was the best episode so far in this train wreck of a fourth season. Never mind that Brittany, in her own words, has “made out with everyone at school, even the janitor” and that, before “Brittana,” she was involved with Artie and slept with Puck.
Never mind all that because what we really need to do, in order to smack Murphy for “fulfilling the old stereotype of the lesbian-hating gay man,” is to encourage Glee’s dyke fans to behave like gay-man-hating lesbians.
Part of Glee’s charm, if you like the series—or part of what makes it unbearable, if you don’t—is that it mixes broad summer-comedy stereotypes and improbable plot lines with the “I feel a song coming on” unreality of 1950s musicals and plops all of that down in a smallish northwestern Ohio town in present-day America; Glee’s Lima is more authentic than Oz but significantly more mythological than Lake Wobegon or Grover’s Corners.
Given that, I don’t argue that Tracy Gilchrist has no right to zing Ryan Murphy to her heart’s content.
I do argue that she needs to make peace with two realities:
1) Bisexuals exist.
2) Brittany and Santana don’t.
Deal with it.