Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Glee

Now, I have two theories about Fox's brilliant, bitter/feel-good comedy Glee.

The first is that the whole thing is a massive political allegory, with an oddly left-wing bias for such a frothingly rightwing network. According to this view, the put-upon, idealistic, but often ineffectual Will Schuester is the Democratic Party, and the borderline lunatic, self-laudatory, and ruthlessly scheming Sue Sylvester is the GOP. Schuester's screechy, selfish, delusional wife, with whom he is trapped in a loveless marriage, is the big-spending pearl-earring Left of the Nancy Pelosi school. Well-meaning, profoundly loveable but lost and damaged Emma Pillsbury is a kind of personification of the American floating voter. Principal Figgins, downtrodden and shamefacedly manipulated by Sue Sylvester, is the Supreme Court. The students represent voting blocks: WASP, African-American, gay, Hispanic.

That's one theory. The other, and I'm absolutely sure of this one, is that Sue Sylvester is a evil parody of Camille Paglia: an aging, self-laudatory, catty, Madonna-worshipping amazon, rambling on relentlessly in an insane outpouring of barely-coherent solipsism. They even look similar, ferrchrissakes:



Sue Sylvester's voiceovers in particular absolutely nail the qualities that eventually made Paglia's monthly column at Salon unreadable: the ill-thought-out swerves of ideas and subject matter, the constant, braggadocio-swollen self-reference, the absurd claims about her own influence. See Paglia on how she 'invented blogging', here; as she says, Sylvesterishly, 'My columns had punch and on-rushing velocity'. Compare Sylvester at her barmiest---the 'quiver' is in the thigh of a pregnant cheerleader, by the way:

Dear Journal, Feeling listless again today. It began at dawn, when I tried to make a smoothie out of beef bones, breaking my juicer. And then at Cheerios practice, disaster. It was unmistakable. It was like spotting the first spark on the Hindenburg. A quiver. That quiver will lose us Nationals. Without a championship, I'll lose my endorsements, and without those endorsements, I won't be able to buy my hovercraft.

This gives precisely the sense of 'whaa'?!' that reading Paglia's column induces. Why does Sylvester need a hovercraft?! Why does Paglia need to tell us that she watches The Young and the Restless and has three televisions?! Sylvester's bitchy one-liners, on the other hand, are as good as Paglia at her best---the woman who lacerated Andrea Dworkin (aptly, in my view) for her overeating and 'garish history of mental instability' would relish Sylvester's characterisation of Pillsbury as 'a mentally ill ginger pygmy with eyes like a bushbaby.' When Sylvester strides down the school corridors, shouting to herself: 'I am Ajax, the mighty warrior!' she is surely embodying Paglia's bracing brand of Amazonian feminism.

Anyway, to adapt Sylvester---that's how Bo sees it!

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