Glee Episode #7: Throwdown

Word of the Day: Power. It’s amazing what people will do to gain or regain power and how some people are naturally powerful. It is also interesting to see what people do with the power they have, whether they use it for good or “evil”. Do they become a super hero or a super villain? I also enjoyed this episode’s look at the minority group in the midst of the power struggle over glee club.

“It sucks. You get all the stress and the worry, and none of the control.” – Finn
I suppose depending on your beliefs about the world, all of life is like this. In the grand scheme of things, we have very little or no control over what happens. The only thing we really have control over is ourselves and the decisions we make. We can choose to react to the world without the stress and the worry, even though everything else is out of our hands.

“Santana. Wheels. Gay kid. C’mon, move it! Asian. Other Asian. Aretha. Shaft.” – Sue
We’ve grown to expect this kind of insensitivity from Sue, but it still catches me off guard. I guess I would like to think that no one would be this insensitive. Yet I laughed. Maybe it’s because it reminded me of a personal incident when a professor asked the class to discuss what we liked best about being white. He turned to me and seeing my confused expression said, “Or fill-in-the-blank. There’s only two of you.” He didn’t even say Asian. Or other Asian. Fill-in-the-blank. Oh man, was I angry. After a while, though, I was able to see the comment for the ridiculousness and awkwardness that it was.

“I’m all about empowerment. I empower my Cheerios to live in a state of constant fear by creating an environment of irrational random terror.” – Sue
Sue is the kind of person who does not use her power for good. She’s also the kind of person who doesn’t understand empowerment. The root of empowerment is overpowering fear, stirring up within you the strength to achieve. Empowerment is not about instilling more fear.

“You can’t stand to see a woman in a position of power. Your psychosexual derangement would be fascinating if it weren’t so terrifying!” – Sue
Will doesn’t have a problem with women in positions of power. If he did, I don’t think he would try so hard to get all of his students, male and female, to succeed in school. No, his problem is that almost all of the women in his life are emasculating him. Do I think that being a man means having dominance over women? No, not entirely. But it is his inability to defend himself, to go from being abused by Sue at school to being abused at home by Terri (“I just don’t want to feel as powerless in my home as I do at school.”), that threatens his manhood.

“Here’s the deal Wu. My husband does the taxes for some very powerful mid-sized law firms in this town, and I’m sure somebody will be more than happy to take on my lawsuit.” – Kendra
Because there’s nothing more powerful than a mid-sized law firm. In a small town. With two OB/GYNs. Who are both Asian?

Finn: If we wanted to hear Mom and Dad fight, those of us who still have two parents would just stay at home on pay day.
Mercedes: I agree. Glee is supposed to be fun. And furthermore, I don’t like this minority business. I may be a strong, proud, Black woman, but I’m a lot more than that.
1. Loved Finn’s line and the perspective he offers.
2. I’m really glad that Mercedes acknowledges that her identity goes beyond race. I think race and ethnicity are important parts of one’s identity, but sometimes people fail to see anything else in themselves. I have encountered people who are so centered around their racial identity that they have developed a negative attitude toward the world, because in their eyes everyone is probably “ignorant” or “racist”. They have probably spent so much time self-segregating that they fail to see the common ground that we all share.

Glee Episode #6: Vitamin D

Word of the Day: Competition. It happens when two parties want the same thing, and sharing is not an option. One trophy. One job. One man. Sometimes competition is real, and sometimes it is only perceived.

Will: Competition. Every one of these people or elements was a champion in their own right. But they use competing with each other to make themselves even better.
Kurt: I don’t understand how lightning is in competition with an above-ground swimming pool.
Those who have a good understanding of competition are the ones who become better. They realize that the focus is on becoming better than they were before. Those who are overcome by competition only focus on being better than others. As for the lightning, I’m pretty sure it always trumps swimming pool. Every other time, the pool’s just lucky.

“A mashup is when you take two songs and mash them together to make an even richer explosion of musical expression.” – Will
A mashup is a good metaphor for the positive spirit of competition. Two songs come together but do not destroy the other in order to emerge as the dominant sound. Rather, what results is something beautiful and each song is better than before. For some good mashups, check out Norwegian Recycling on YouTube.

“Every time I try to destroy that clutch of scab-eating mouth breathers, it only comes back stronger like some sexually ambiguous horror movie villain.” – Sue
Sue is one of those people who doesn’t understand the spirit of healthy competition. She finds success by destroying others rather than bettering herself. Glee on the other hand, come back stronger because Sue’s attacks don’t expose weaknesses but rather give them opportunities for improvement.

“Don’t bend or break, baby, don’t back down.” – Bon Jovi
Persistance wins competitions. I knew Bon Jovi was wise.

Rachel: I know everyone expects us to be enemies and be in competition, but I don’t hate you.
Quinn: Why not? I’ve been awful to you.
Rachel: That was before you knew what it felt like to be me. An outsider.
Competition isn’t always real. I think that’s when it can be the most damaging, because you are unnecessarily focused on an imaginary prize. You take others down, even if they are not standing in your way. I’ve found myself in competition with others, though they were unaware of it. I lost a friendship because I saw my friend as an enemy instead. It wasn’t until I realized we were on the same side that we became friends again. (Truth is, there was an unexpected third party. My friend and I rekindled our relationship when we realized we both lost, and we understood what it was like to be the other person.)

“I know you have this thing about being clean. Now I can’t promise to pick up my underwear or squeegee the shower door, but I can promise to keep you life clean of sadness and loneliness and any other dark clouds that might float into it.” – Ken
This doesn’t have anything to do with the theme of competition, but I gotta say, who can compete with this speech?! Ken is probably one of the more sensible adults on the show, as much as I may hate to admit that. And though I’m a female, I think I am most similar to Ken out of all the characters.

“You might think there’s some kind of competition going on between you and I, but that’s like saying a nail is competing with a hammer.” – Terri
I’ve been on the receiving end of this statement before, though at the time, I was also the one saying the words. During my imaginary competition, I always saw myself as the nail and my friend as the hammer. I wanted to win so badly but kept telling myself that I never had a chance. Sure, the nail could put up a good fight, but there was no way the nail could beat the hammer. I realize now that I was my own hammer and could never win against my negative thinking.

I guess I get caught up in the competitive hysteria too. My goals are too selfish. It’s time for me to stop competing against everyone and start competing alongside them.
It’s like a mashup. Instead of trying to destroy others, how can you work with them to create something even better?

Glee Episode #5: The Rhodes Not Taken

Word of the Day: Why. It is probably the most important question we can ask of ourselves. Honest answers to the question “Why?” give us a better glimpse of who a person is and who we are. “Why” shows us what motivates a person or what is considered important. The answer doesn’t always come right away – if we want the real answer. That’s probably why it takes a whole episode for the characters to understand their reasons why.

“We have obligations as teachers to give kids opportunities for growth and enrichment.” – Emma
If only all teachers acknowledged this obligation as their reason for teaching. There are too many teachers who focus on the salary (however much or little) over the students. The best teachers out there are the ones who make you better people, not better test takers. They’re the ones who teach you about life and academics, and help you to realize your full potential.

“If Glee’s gonna win, I need to give her a second chance. She is a talented performer, and I really think that the kids are going to learn a lot of valuable technique from her.” – Will
Will has a couple reasons for keeping April around, both seemingly focused on his students. His first reason is to help April and allow her to achieve what she was 3 credits short from achieving. His second reason is to help his current students become better singers and performers. At the root of it all, though, is Will’s desire for Glee to win and reclaim his glory days.

“You need to think about why you’re doing this and what you’re willing to sacrifice to get it.” – Emma
Not only should you think about what you’re willing to sacrifice, but you should also consider whether “this” is even worth the sacrifice. And is the “why” worth the sacrifice, too? Is the businessman willing to sacrifice family time to get the promotion just because he wants prestige at work? Am I willing to sacrifice a couple homework-less years of my life to get my Master’s degree in order to pursue my desire to work with college students? Is Will willing to sacrifice the integrity and innocence of his students in exchange for April Rhodes just so Glee can succeed?

“I just know that I want to spend more time with you now.” – Finn
Goodness, who knows how many times this has been my reason why…

Kurt: Maybe Quinn is lactose intolerant.
Artie: That doesn’t explain all the crying.
Tina: Maybe she just doesn’t like the group.
No amount of speculation about the “why” behind Quinn’s recent behavior can replace Quinn’s personal obligation to face the truth.

“I need to get a music scholarship so I can go to college, so I can get a good job, so I can take care of my kid. And I can’t do that if you don’t come back to glee club.” – Finn
I remember the idea of college driving my decisions, even down to the courses I studied in junior high. I needed to take the right classes so I could get into a good school, so I could get a good job. But that’s all. Finn’s motivation is much weightier and goes beyond just having a good job. He wants a good life, something that college can provide.

“I realized being a star didn’t make me feel as special as being your friend. If I let you down when you needed me the most, I’d never forgive myself.” – Rachel
Rachel said in the pilot episode that “being a part of something special makes you special”. She thought that “something special” was glee club, but now she realizes it’s the friendship she has with the glee kids. The relationships we form are often the strongest reasons why we do anything.

Glee Episode #4: Preggers

Word of the Day (not so much a recurring word, but a theme): Honesty. In this episode, the characters don’t talk about honesty, but instead demonstrate how difficult it is. Though lying and deceit seem so much easier, they only complicate matters in the long run. Honesty will win eventually, and some of the characters realize how much better life is when lived honestly.

Kendra: What do you think he’s going to do when he finds out you lied?
Terri: Oh God, I don’t know. I’ve got to tell him the truth. I’ve got to tell him and I’ve got to deal with the consequences.
Kendra: Are you insane? Dishonesty is food to a marriage. It will die without it.
It gives me hope that Terri has some sense of morality. She recognizes that the right thing to do is be honest with her husband, though there are consequences for her lies and she may run the risk of losing him. I lose a bit of hope in Terri (and humanity) to see people like her sister Kendra, who think that dishonesty can do anything positive for a marriage, let alone sustain it. Dishonesty is what kills marriages and relationships (though Kendra probably uses it to trick her husband into staying married). Successful relationships, whether a marriage or a friendship, have a foundation of honesty. I can say from experience that the vulnerability required to be honest with someone is very difficult, but it allowed me (and the relationship) to emerge from that moment stronger than before.

Kurt: Finn, I needed to ask you something.
Finn: Thanks, but I already have a date to the prom. But I’m flattered. I know how important dances are to teen gays.
Kurt: I’m not gay.
Finn: Oh.
The ability to be honest is based on trust. You have to trust the other person not to hurt you in that moment of vulnerability. Glee has allowed Kurt and Finn to develop trust in one another, but the social mechanics of high school carry an inherent distrust between classes. Kurt has yet to build enough trust in Finn to be honest about his sexuality, though after this episode that might change.

Sandy: It is so wonderful to finally have some Sandy time. I have my bridge game on Fridays, Saturdays I am fully committed to the local cat rescue…
Sue: Sandy, let’s cut the crap.
Sandy: *sobs* I’m living in a cocoon of horror. Yesterday, I ate nine cans of aerosol whipped cream.
It can be hard to admit the truth, especially if it is somewhat shameful. But being honest with yourself is the key to moving forward. Others cannot help or comfort you until you can be honest with yourself.

“I hear this poor girl is so ashamed that she can’t tell anybody. Can you imagine having to hide something like that? All that effort covering that up?” – Will
It takes more muscles to frown than to smile. In the same way, it takes more work to maintain a lie than to confess the truth. When will Will realize how much effort Terri is putting into covering up her own mess?

“I’m just somebody who wants to help.” – Terri
Half-hearted promises of benevolence can be some of the most damaging lies, because they lead people to develop trust in those they shouldn’t trust. These are the kind of lies that lure children into shady vans and trap people in toxic relationships.

Kurt: I have something that I want to say. I’m glad that you’re proud of me, but I don’t want to lie anymore. Being a part of the glee club and football has really showed me that I can be anything, and what I am is… I’m gay.
Kurt’s Dad: I know.
Kurt: Really?
KD: I’ve known since you were three. All you wanted for your birthday was a pair of sensible heels. I guess I’m not totally in love with the idea, but if that’s who you are, there’s nothing I can do about it. And I love you just as much. Thanks for telling me, Kurt. You’re sure, right?
Kurt: Yeah, Dad. I’m sure.
KD: Just checking.
When a child is different from the parents’ hopes or expectations, it can be hard for the parents to accept their child’s decision. Not all parents are so accepting as Kurt’s dad, whether the matter at hand is careers or sexuality. It was so heartwarming to watch the conversation between Kurt and his dad, to see the unconditional love the father had for his son. My favorite part of the conversation was when Kurt’s dad thanked him for coming out to him, because his sexuality wasn’t really a secret. The conversation was more so a demonstration of Kurt’s trust in his own father.

“To them I say, shake it up a bit. Get out of your box! Even if that box happens to be where you are living… It’s not easy to break out of your comfort zone. People will tear you down, tell you you shouldn’t have bothered in the first place, but let me tell you something. There’s not much difference between a stadium of cheering fans and an angry crowd screaming abuse at you. They’re both just making a lot of noise. How you take it is up to you. Convince yourself they’re cheering for you. You do that, and someday they will.” – Sue
This doesn’t have anything to do with honesty… Normally, everything Sue says is offensive to some people group and can be ignored, but I understand what she says here. Perspective has a way of changing the negative to positive. And Sue Sylvester quotes can be more meaningful when you omit the bit about how homeless people should try not being homeless for a change.

Glee Episode #3: Acafellas

Words of the day: Guts and confidence. Some people lack one or the other, and the lucky ones are blessed with both. At times, a boost in confidence gives you the guts to do what you never thought you could. At other times, it takes guts to show just how confident you can be.

“Being a man is all about one thing: guts.” – Will’s dad
Perhaps guts really is what separates the boys from the men. When I say “guts”, I don’t mean jumping off a bridge, even if you might break some bones (or worse). A boy will do whatever people say without fear of consequences, but that is not “guts.” That’s idiocy. “Guts,” according to the dictionary, is having courage when it really matters. A man will act in spite of what others may say or the personal consequences he faces, because he wants to follow his heart or do something that matters. Of course, “guts” is not gender exclusive; for girls, though, I’d venture to say the bridge is probably more metaphorical.

“They say it takes more certainty than talent to be a star. I mean, look at John Stamos.” – Emma
Don’t knock John Stamos (Uncle Jesse forever!), but Emma has a point. Talentless celebrities like Paris Hilton or Heidi Montag (or any other reality TV star transitioning into acting or music) demonstrate how it doesn’t take talent these days to be famous. But if they’re certain in themselves enough to get out there, I guess there’s no stopping them. Talent will get them further than the limited success that these “stars” experience.

“He knows who he is, and that’s great. And there really is nothing sexier in a man than confidence.” – Emma
It’s true. Guys who are comfortable in their own skin seem more attractive, even if they are not the most physically appealing. It’s like how a salesperson is more effective if they are confident in their product – why would anyone else want to buy it if the salesperson doesn’t even believe in it?

“Two weeks ago, I would have agreed that four grown men rehearsing a capella hip-hop in my living room was embarrassing. But busting out some white hot new jack swing – I’ll tell you, I’ve never felt more confident.” – Will

“Seeing me feel so good about myself made my wife more attracted to me in every way.” – Will

“Of course he doesn’t want anything to do with us after you kicked him in the nads… He just doesn’t have the confidence to coach us anymore. Guys are really sensitive when it comes to this kind of stuff.” – Finn
I tend to forget that guys can be sensitive. Being sensitive isn’t a stereotypically “manly” quality, but I suppose if there’s anything for a guy to be sensitive about, it would be his manliness. Many guys try to put up a facade of strength, and any suggestion of weakness would be enough to strip away their confidence.

“Is this one of those chick things where you’re pissed about one thing but you’re just pretending like you’re pissed about something else?” – Finn
While this has nothing to do with confidence, I just wanted to point out the insight Finn has, despite his dumb jock image. Not everyone realizes that girls do this, but maybe he has seen Quinn or his mom do this enough that he has caught on to our ways.

“I have enough confidence to say out loud that what happened between us in the auditorium was real. You have feelings for me and you just don’t have the guts to admit it.” – Rachel
The bullying that Rachel faces at school would be enough to kill the confidence of any high school student, but this girl is so sure of herself (sometimes bordering on unknowingly arrogant) that she can maintain her confidence in the face of social hierarchy. Finn is not comfortable enough in his own skin to defy high school social conventions by facing the truth. I have yet to be as confident as Rachel. Only within the past couple years have I been able to talk to and make friends with the “popular” kids – and it’s usually because they are so confident in themselves they don’t realize the social divide when they start talking to me.

“Am I hurting your feelings? Did I say something wrong? Because I thought you wanted somebody who respected you enough to tell you the truth. But maybe you don’t have the confidence to hear it. Maybe you need somebody who’s going to lie to you and tell you things like, ‘You’ve got what it takes.'” – Dakota Stanley, champion choreographer
In a way, Dakota is right. I would rather have someone respect me enough to tell me the truth instead of feeding me lies. And it does take a bit of confidence in yourself not to take remarks too personally. When someone critiques my art work, I have to remember that they are not necessarily criticizing me. The lines become blurry with the art form of dance, where the artist is the art. However, there’s a difference between constructive criticism and insult. If I only heard insults, which are damaging to the individual, I would never develop enough confidence to handle the criticism.

“It’s never too late to grow a pair and go after your dreams.” – Will’s dad
What dreams do you want to go after? Mine may have something to do with the pair of pointe shoes sitting underneath my bed.

Mercedes: You shouldn’t be ashamed of who you are, Kurt… The whole point of the club is about expressing what’s really inside you, remember?
Kurt: I can’t. I’m just not that confident, I guess.
Expressing what’s inside of you takes a lot of guts, because you risk the rejection of your true self. It’s just fascinating (and not uncommon) how someone like Kurt, who seems so confident on the outside, can be so insecure on the inside.

“When you really believe in yourself, you don’t have to bring other people down.” – Quinn
Whether or not she would like to admit it, Sue Sylvester doubts her ability to outdo the glee club and tries to take them down in order to secure her superiority. It’s like what we’ve always learned – bullies are just insecure and need to put everyone down in order to feel better about themselves. Those who believe in themselves see no need for comparison, no need to be superior. Kurt, held captive by social hierarchy, copes with his insecurity by telling himself he is superior to everyone else, when in reality (according to Finn) everyone is a loser.

*Last week’s post was rather lengthy, so from here on out I plan on only including meaningful quotes or ones that relate to the episode theme (word of the day).