Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Glee's Blame it on the Alcohol Episode: Biggest Controversies

In this polarizing episode, Figgins wants to put an end to students coming to class drunk.  But instead of staging a mock accident like most high schools, or enlisting the help of someone who really understands the dangers, he decides to make the Glee kids figure it out in the form of a song and dance number, in order to inform the rest of the kids.  The trouble is, Rachel realizes that she’s being asked to sing about the dangers of alcohol, but she’s never even had a drink.  So…they do a little “field research.”  What ensued was one of the most controversial episodes of Glee to date.  A lot of fans are promising to “boycott” the show as a result.  Here’s my take on the main controversies of Glee’s Blame it on the Alcohol episode. 

Teenage drinking
Well, obviously.  That was the entire point of the show.  That was the name of the episode.  And there were parts that were difficult to watch.  Puck pressuring Rachel.  The kids loosening up and having fun with Brittany taking off her clothes, Santana doing body shots.  Projectile vomiting at the assembly.  But why are so many fans upset that they dared to show this?  Why are people saying that it’s inappropriate because this show is geared for kids?  This show has NEVER been geared for kids!  The first season was about a date rape that resulted in a pregnancy.  Oh, and by the way, Quinn was “drunk on wine coolers” when it happened.  Just because they didn’t show her stumbling around doesn’t make the situation any less adult.  Glee is gritty, the characters don’t play nice, and I don’t see that changing any time soon.  If your kids are not old enough to handle it, don’t let them watch.  The only real controversy here is why did Fox move the show to 8pm. 

The kids being rewarded for their drunken performance instead of punished 
Some fans of the show were really up in arms over the fact that Figgins rewarded the kids after their drunken performance.  They feel that they should have been punished to make the point that teenage drinking is wrong.  But seriously?  Figgins was totally out of touch the whole time; more so than usual.  So yes, he rewarded them all with frozen yogurt coupons (half off, by the way, not free).  This was hardly a reward!  And they all CLEARLY knew that what they did was bad.  They walked in there knowing they faced suspension.  They all naturally felt sick as dogs with their hang-overs.  They were publicly humiliated because anyone with half a brain knew that Brittany was actually puking mid-sentence and Rachel was actually wearing something way worse than any slushie she’d ever received.  I’d argue that they DID learn their lesson.  Sometimes punishments are just naturally occurring, and those are actually the best ones.  It proves that you won’t always get caught, but there are some consequences you can not escape. 

Beiste makes light
Beiste talks about how lecturing kids on the dangers of drinking won’t stop them from doing so.  All they can do is educate them and hope they make good choices.  And then laughs.  Now, some people interpret this as her being flip, or sarcastic.  But did you see the look on Will’s face as she was explaining this to him?  The blank, stupefied stare was clear that what she was saying was going RIGHT over his head.  I’m pretty sure she wasn’t laughing about the seriousness of teen drinking, but about how dumb he looked.

Kurt ragging on the bi-s
Some people are angry that the writers believe there’s no such thing as being bisexual.  Which is strange, since it was only one character’s point of view.  Kurt is clearly speaking out of anger when he goes on this tirade.  Same as when he spoke to his dad.  Just because Kurt is gay, doesn’t mean he is the definitive voice of tolerance and sexuality, and just because he has the voice of an angel doesn’t mean he is one.  He makes as many mistakes as the rest of them. 

On a related note, now Kurt’s views on bisexuality (or at least, what he decided to spout in a moment of panic and rejection) are out there, there has been a second controversy opened up regarding Santana and Brittany.  In Glee’s first season during one of those split screen phone scenes I love, Brittany clearly said that sex does not mean dating, otherwise she and Santana would be dating.  Santana gave her a “shush” look, but didn’t deny it, and later there was a scene with them making out.  And YET, some people believe that they aren’t bisexual.  Seems pretty cut and dry to me!  Santana’s been with Puck and Finn, Brittany’s been with Artie, and they’ve been with each other.  Unless one of the above scenarios didn’t REALLY happen, it is what it is.  Some viewers have said that they’re not really, it’s just one of the quirks of their friendship.  I say that’s ridiculous.  Is a married woman not heterosexual because she’s only with her husband and no other men? 

Kurt tells his dad to learn more about gay sex
Kurt tells his dad that he should educate himself on gay sex so that if he has any questions he could “go to him like any straight son could.”  Now, I think this is just a bit unfair.  When straight fathers talk to their straight sons about sex it’s because they can speak from their own experience.  I can sympathize that Kurt may come to a point where he needs to talk to someone about sex.  But exactly how is his dad going to “educate” himself?  Internet?  Kurt can do that.  Read a book?  Kurt can do that.  No, I think his dad was being perfectly reasonable in saying “don’t bring random guys here for sleepovers, I wouldn’t let Finn bring girls over either.”  And comparing that to Puck sleeping over?  Kurt is trying to have his cake and eat it too.  Not the first time he’s been manipulative like this (remember when he let Finn take the fall for flipping out about sharing a room last season). 

Also, I have heard some make the argument that when Kurt had Brittney over for a make out session, his dad said “Have fun, use protection.”  With that in mind, it DOES seem like a real double standard.  However, Burt said that he’s known since Kurt was 3 that he was gay, so I submit that he was sort of being sarcastic when he said that.  Which is not top notch parenting, but come on, if he knew Kurt was doing it for attention, sometimes it IS best to ignore the behavior rather than indulge it.  And he DID talk to Kurt after about his sexuality, so really he was doing the right thing by finding the appropriate time and place to address things.  The same way as he did that morning he bumped into Blaine.  A lesser parent would have flipped out then and there about finding a stranger in their child's bed.  Burt waited until he could discuss it rationally, while still enforcing his house rules. 

Was this episode appropriate for kids?  Not so much.  Was it a bland public service announcement about the dangers of alcohol?   No.  Did it show how much fun getting drunk with your friends can be?  Yes.  Was it an entertaining program with a lot of great one liners, polished performances, and character development?  Yes. 

So what do you think about Glee’s controversial episode, “Blame it on the Alcohol?”  Do you agree or disagree?  Are there any points I missed?

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