|Chris Colfer performing "I Wanna Hold Your Hand" (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
One rising issue in the United States is teen sexuality. As teenage homosexuality gains notice, changes are being made in America with social treatment of gays. Tragedies such as the youth suicides are igniting a social movement. The idea of “gay is okay” is being shown all over the American television system. Americans are being exposed to gay culture and are becoming more accepting of it because of the exposure. One show with a unique set of characteristics is Glee. Glee is a show on a national network with the reputation of being conservative (FOX), which makes it more surprising that the show also holds the record for number of non-heterosexual teenage characters on a prime time show.
A reoccurring theme for these Glee Club members is the constant threat of a
slushie to the face by the high school’s bullies, who constantly antagonize them, especially out and proud gay character Kurt Hummel. the show successfully transforms the understanding of gay bullying through the character Kurt Hummel who sends a tailored message to these specific groups by serving as an exemplary figure for victims. Glee mirrors real bullying through the interactions between Kurt and football ogre Dave Karofsky, who frequently singles out Kurt with malicious words, aggressive shoves, and angry glares. Kurt serves as a positive influence by celebrating his homosexuality and refusing to abandon his flamboyant behavior, even at the risk of his social standing. After a particularly brutal encounter with bully Dave, Kurt chooses to confront his aggressor with words of his own: “Hit me because it’s not going to change who I am. You can’t punch the gay out of me any more than I can punch the ignoramus out of you!” Kurt takes ownership of his life; he addresses the problem with the principal of the school and makes the decision to transfer to a more advantageous school with a zero tolerance of bullying and a brighter future. The initiative Glee takes in presenting a positive gay character and the immense support from the show is significant in that it encourages teens in similar situations to follow Kurt’s example and better their situation. Character Kurt Hummel successfully embodies and acts out the message “it gets better.” \
The character Dave, like other bullies in real life, harasses Kurt because he believes that homosexuality somehow makes his victim inferior. In reaching approximately eleven
million viewers an episode, Glee is effective in obtaining a wide coverage to promote its
issues. The specific messages Glee sends are significant in that they seek to inspire change from its viewers. To the victims, Glee sends a message of hope through the uncompromising character of Kurt, who encourages teens to follow his example. The targeted change in this message is to influence the victims to refuse to compromise their identity by taking charge of their lives. Just as Kurt is teased for his sexuality, the
other Glee Club teens are slushied for being different, however when Glee Club starts, this uniqueness is celebrated. Glee makes the statement that the characters are at their
best when they are truly themselves and that they cannot let the other students or the dominant culture alter who they are. In responding to the issue of gay bullying as well as those struggling for other reasons in school, Glee sends a positive message that high school teens desperately need to hear: the most important thing is to be yourself.