Where My Mouth Is

So let me tell you why.

(This is stream of conscious while the kid is asleep. Apologies for grammar and spelling.)

I have seldom had as strong a reaction to a television show as I’ve had to “Glee”. Positive or Negative. There are stretches of the first few seasons of “House M.D.” where I was just tickled, and there are whole seasons of “Mad Men” that are flat out breath-taking, but even these over-the-top positive reactions pale in comparison to the bile-raising that happens when I watch “Glee”.

My thought on it are actually totally disorganized. I feel reduced to something pre-verbal… When other people start talking about why they hate the show, I find myself interrupting and yelling at them, like they don’t hate it enough or for enough reasons.

Please don’t tell me that I have a remote and other channels. I know I do, obviously there is a reason that I have submitted myself to this horror. If you placed third in a the Wyoming State Spelling Bee, and you heard that everyone watched Spellbound and loved it, then it would be completely ABSURD for you to say, “I saw some of it, didn’t like it, so I’m gonna choose not to spend any more time on it.” They keep making more episodes, and my FaceBook friends from the early 90s are all watching it, I Simply CanNot Turn Away. I have to be a witness.

It has been said that the rules of the show are not being followed by the writers, which is, of course, sin number one. That’s… That’s a horrible problem, but it isn’t my biggest problem. They’ve set up a world where the cheerleaders and football players are… JESUS.

OKAY… Okay, look, I don’t know if I can do this, but seriously, when you were in high school, was the football team really full of popular kids? Honestly. TELL THE TRUTH. No, they weren’t. They might have thought they were, but you know who the popular kids were? The rich kids who got good grades and didn’t fucking care about *ANYTHING*, let alone football.

When John Hughes wrote this stuff, he was relying on a sort of Modern Jungian Symbology, and he blew holes in all of that shit. The JOCK in Breakfast Club is as obsessed with his own little shit as the GEEK is. It is mindlessly idiotic shorthand to decide that the cheerleaders and football players are cool and the glee club is a bunch of nerds, it’s infuriating.

BUT WAIT, I’m SORRY. I’m sorry. GLEE CLUB? Do you assholes even know what a glee club is? A glee club is usually men, but fine, there are glee clubs that have men and women. A glee club performs short songs, or “Glee”s that are usually about school spirit, at pep rallies and stuff. The people in this show are in a SHOW CHOIR. It’s not a glee club.

Why don’t they just make the Lacrosse team the popular kids? BUT THEN LET THEM PLAY FOOTBALL?

Oh and the gay kid. Oh for the love of GOD. Yeah, apparently, the writer of the show is gay, and, apparently, I’m NOT, so what the hell do I know, but HONESTLY. In an episode last week, the teacher separates them into boys and girls and… I almost can’t write it… the gay boy goes and stands with the women. BECAUSE GAY GUYS ARE ACTUALLY GENDER CONFUSED. It’s isn’t that they’re gay, they just KEEP FORGETTING THEY’RE WOMEN.

He’s also the one who described one of the songs as “gay” in an earlier episode. The same episode where they edit out the word “nigger”.

Right! RIGHT, YEAH! IN that episode, the teacher brings out the gold-digger song and suddenly, the room fills with a perfect accompaniment, the kids all sight-read the music perfectly, and THE TEACHER PERFORMS THE SONG.


I’m… I’m just gonna have to come back to that. Because it’s the greatest sin of all. I mean, I’m here, I’m ready, I could just do this, but let me throw out a quick list of utter shit in this show before I get back to the greatest sin of all.

1) The sexual politics. It’s puerile. In “The Office”, Michael Scott, of all people, just sits down an old lady and says, “look in your day, things were different, but people have sex now…” but the constant cringe-worthy assinine sexual conversations could only have been conjured by someone who has no idea what people actually do with their lives, or how they actually speak.

2) The wheelchair kid. What is his talent? From what I can tell, they’ve got the gay kid and the jock, and then every other male talent that they need to assign to someone, they give it to the wheelchair kid. He sings bass back up? He also sings perfect tenor? And lead guitar? As soon as they cover “Spoonman” by Soundgarden, you can bet who’s gonna have the spoon solo.

3) The music. I wonder if I can pinpoint *exactly* how old the writer of this show is. I gotta guess, with the constant references to mid and late 80s music as if it’s the music of *kids*, this guy has to be about five years older than I am. Anyone who thinks Journey and Billy Joel are actually on the radar, or that “Push It” is hypersexualized rap music, has to be a half generation behind me. AND I’M ALMOST FORTY.

4) Jane Lynch. She’s fantastic. But she’s in a totally different show. When she says to the principal, “My recommendation is that these children be *hobbled*.” It’s hilarious. It’s Cruella DeVille. So… why should I give a shit about the other characters? Nobody on the show can act except for Ms. Lynch, and she’s playing a Disney Villain.

5) The Performance Teacher. When a teacher wanted to perform with the show choir, it was an obvious sign of an egomaniac who cares nothing for his own choir, and who is about 2.5 semesters away from forgetting himself entirely and sleeping with one of his sopranos. This has to be one of the most unattractive characters on television. EVER.

6) The recordings. There is nothing vibrant about any musical number. It’s all recorded, overdubbed, background vocalled, auto-tuned, focus-grouped and machine-polished. This is bleeding into my final point, but high school arts can be the subject of intense and incredible emotional journeys because of the very low rate of success and high rate of humiliation. But nobody on this show can sing a wrong note. Not a teacher, not a cheerleader, not a football player, nobody.

And this does lead me to my final point.

There were people that I spent my time with who had bumper stickers that said “I can’t. I have rehearsal.” It was funny because… they had rehearsal.

In Citrus Singers we had hours and hours of rehearsal every day. When it got to be Christmas, we also had to play handbells, and our handbell rehearsals were held *overnight*. We had no choice. Every other hour of the day was spoken for, and we would sit, 14 or 15 kids in someone’s living room, running the handbell rehearsals from midnight to five in the morning. When I was running the Bass Clef bells, the Treble bells would just lie back where they were and sleep for fifteen minutes.

It’s coal-mining. It’s not blue collar work, it’s BLACK collar work. It’s *NO* collar work, while you’re running your next six hour choreography rehearsal in a tank top. It is a trudge, it’s incredibly difficult, and you can work your ass off and still be merely *good*. Or even *AWFUL*.

When I was a kid, I was at a function with my dad, a post-concert meet-n-greet with the donors. The whole place was full of guys dressed to the nines and I said to my dad “it’s so amazing to see everyone in suits and dresses”. My dad said, “Look around. The only people in tuxedos are the musicians and the waiters. And we’re the ones who use the service entrance…” He wanted me to know, this isn’t a party for the artists. We’re at work.

So, when this show makes the execrable claim that music can simply be handed out and sight-read, performance ready, that somehow the biggest hurdles to artistic success are the stock personality conflicts between show choir and *CHEERLEADERS*, that all you have to do is *want* it, and it will happen for you (regardless of
putting in absolutely no work), this is an utter insult to all of us who sweat blood trying to make a show actually happen.

You should be furious. This isn’t a celebration of what we do, because they never show what we do. In Show Choir, as in all forms of performance including Ballets, Plays, Symphonies, one of the most difficult things to do is to re-create the exact same set list or script, time after time, performance after performance, and making it fresh every time.

I’m not saying I want to watch a TV show about that. But I can say that I find it deeply offensive, and actually damaging, to us as performers. Of course people think the NEA should be cut, they have no idea how hard it is for people to create the art that they share with the world. When you watch the infantile, craven characters on Glee suddenly erupt in perfect performance, once they get over their utterly worthless dramas, it completely undercuts the people who eschew all of this bullshittery and focus instead on making a life for themselves as artists.

I hate this show a lot.