Glee - We can do ‘ginger supremacy’ but not ACTUAL racism, that’s still fucking relevant and clearly at play on the very show??
We can talk about serious matters of bullying and homophobia and briefly on sizeism, but we cannot give serious consideration of what it’s like to be a nonwhite student at a majority-white school, with majority-white teachers, with obvious majority-white biases at play, and make people’s nonwhite cultures the butt of jokes, like “Asian F”, “Asian Therapy”, “Cocoa Babies”, “Glee club, not crunk club”, “fiesty, violent Latina who only speaks Spanish when mad”, “lazy (though there’s canonical proof over two seasons that’s not the case)”. Hell, you even sort of addressed it in S1 with “Throwdown”, and then never bring that back up again - not even when the moment is handed to you, by your own pen, on a silver platter with that Rachedes conversation in Mercedes’ SUV at the end of “Night of Neglect”. Mercedes isn’t stupid. She’s observant, she knows how life works. Children of color learn those particular rules pretty damn quickly.
Those concerns? They’re actually not fucking funny and they’re not throwaway experiences or concerns. They eat away at you like acid, depleting whatever encouragement or self-esteem, or even self-efficacy one could’ve had before stepping into, what is actually, hostile environments. But they’re subtly hostile, to the point folk have you convinced you’re the crazy one and seeing things and your can’t trust yourself to decipher what your own lived experiences are. Now we know why Emma has OCD, and I think that’s actually a really compelling and moving reason; but can we discuss why Mercedes might be oversleeping and throwing up and having a lack of energy if she’s not pregnant (and…I still don’t think she’s sexually active. Way for fandom to make that leap when it’s Mercedes of all people)? Those are signs of depression, people. We got a little bit of the pressure Mike Chang’s under, and it definitely added texture to his character. But Mercedes clinging to kind words, only getting kind words from people she’s known for all of five minutes (both Lauren and now Shane) but not from her “family” even though, when it’s mattered, she’s always been there for them?
My parents always said black people have to be two times better to be considered equal, and my goodness if we haven’t watched that play out for the past two and some change seasons. Mercedes finally called people out on that, then respectfully said “thanks, but no thanks” and got out of a relationship that was starting to be toxic to her. I’m proud of her for that. And yo, if they make this child come back begging while neither Rachel, nor Quinn, nor Santana had to do that after they quit/got kicked out, I’mma cry fuckery.
And no, I’m not putting this under a “read more”. Read it. Do your mental gymnastics to deny what’s been going on onscreen and in glee fandom.
“You got an Asian F?”
I hope you all are ready for an onslaught of feelings.
This storyline is going to be awful. I haven’t watched this show since the end of S1 basically and I am not going to. But this storyline is going to be awful in the way that the other “Asian” storylines this show handles are also awful.
@thewaxlion, @eyre, and I were talking about our feelings the other day and especially about our feelings regarding our own experiences with self-policing with regard to Asian-American students in high school. (Obviously, parts of our own high school experiences.) I know people who have went to Stuyvesant High School, including some of my own family, and I have friends who attended other magnet high schools in DC where there are high proportions of Asian-American students and there is always this discussion that comes up about not being Asian enough. Which, of course, fits hand in hand with the model minority stereotype.
Which is why this storyline, if done properly, would be so important to me. I was that kid in high school who was like oh, you know, a C is an Asian F. And I have had talks and arguments and other things like that with my parents about grades going back to elementary school. WHICH IS WHY THIS STORYLINE WOULD BE IMPORTANT TO ME, IF DONE PROPERLY. Academic performance fits hand-in-hand with the model minority stereotype, and so it became this thing that we used to judge ourselves. Much like math. If you’re bad at math, you’re a “bad Asian.” And that’s just how the dialogue around Asian-American student … groups? people? goes a lot of the time.
And around tumblr and also in real life, I’ve heard people who’ve talked about how alienated they feel in environments where there are a lot of Asian-American students because it makes them feel like outsiders, isolated from this greater community. But that greater community - in high school - polices the shit out of itself. You can be too Asian - fobby - or you can be a bad Asian - “Americanized,” bad at math, bad at school - etc. And obviously, there are a lot of people that fall between the two, myself included, but that always seems to be the line that’s drawn. Good Asians, Bad Asians, Too Asian(s).
And this storyline is important to me because Tina, as a character, in the gifs that I have seen, in what I have seen of her in S1 is doing her own thing. She dyes her hair, she joins glee club, she isn’t chained to her academic life - she does what makes her feel happy. And this is sort of the opposite tack because there was also an incident where she spoke out because she didn’t want to eat chicken feet with his family every week - never mind that you are in Ohio, where are you going to eat dim sum every week? And also you wouldn’t have chicken feet every night, but that’s besides the point - but here, it’s about grades.
And grades are always talked about but they’re always joked about in high school hallways when part of it is because good grades mean you’re a good Asian mean you’re going to be successful and make your parents proud means you’re the model minority. And it’s all wrapped up in that but you’re in high school so what do you know, and ha ha, you are so(/such a bad) Asian, isn’t that funny.
And I’m not going to lie. I have a lot of weird internalized model minority ish, I’m positive I do, and I wish this show could sit down and have a frank talk about it because where else do we see an Asian-American teenage couple interacting and dealing with this shit? Nowhere else. In fact, I’d go out on a limb and say they’re probably the only Asian-American teenage couple we’ve seen on primetime tv - with storylines! - in a while. And it’s important that it gets talked about because it happens and nobody talks about it and it becomes this thing that you use to judge yourself.
Except that would be real talk.
And who would want that when you could make a joke instead?