Don’t Be Glee-vil | Todcast

by: Tony Russo

The hardest part of being me is I’m so easily offended, I’m running out of things to boycott, which kinda takes me out of the game economic sanctions-wise. For example, I don’t eat processed meat or fast food as a general rule. I also don’t frequent places that use religion as a marketing tool. As a result, I was unable to participate in the boycott of Chick-fil-A last year, which was kind of a disappointment. Moreover, I couldn’t make a big deal about the boycott without sounding like the worlds lamest, most hateful, hipster: “Yeah? Well, I wasn’t going to Chick-fil-A way before it was cool not to go to Chick-fil-A.”

Imagine, then, my disappointment at not being able to boycott watching “Glee” when they were exposed as thieves this week.

“I thought ‘Glee’ was painful, obnoxious and unoriginal way fore it was cool to think ‘Glee’ was painful, obnoxious and unoriginal.”

To be clear, choral music is the whitest, most embarrassing thing conceived this side of Pat Boone. Choral music is offensive to the ear and to the soul, which is why I never bothered watching ‘Glee’ in the first place. Also, I’m not cool enough to bestow coolness on the gays, (but more on that later).

To bring those of you who missed the controversy up to speed, for years Glee has been accused of having lifted song arrangements (which are copywritten) from indie artists. When called on it they say, essentially, “How many different ways can you arrange Don’t Stop Believin’?”

This week they debuted an arrangement of Baby Got Back clearly stolen from Jonathan Coulton. We know it was stolen because Coulton changed the lyrics to include his own name and Glee incorporated that change. But just as anyone who is conscious couldn’t have been too surprised Chick-fil-A took their religious exploitation the logical inclusion of hating homosexuals, there isn’t a lot of room for surprise that ‘Glee’ is exploitative of indie artists and odd kids generally.

It is the purview of the cool to temporarily bestow their glow of coolness on whatever they will. What makes someone cool is their ability to get others to adopt their aesthetic worldview. Being the gay boy in a small town or the quirky overweight girl with glasses is no cooler than it has ever been, really. If you’re one of those people and not on television, your high school life will still be pretty difficult.

The reason cool kids shine a light on anything is not for the thing in itself, but rather as a demonstration of their power to shine a light. ‘Glee’ has had that bucket of pig’s blood hanging over the odd kids’ collective head all evening. Really, you had to see it coming.

So that’s not really the troubling part.

The really troubling part is there are actual glee clubs that have always struggled under the weight of purchasing or writing arrangements. Terrified of being caught and sued during real competitions with other real choruses, schools not funded by Fox and billions in ad revenue have to subsist on whatever arrangements the teachers can write themselves or scrape together the cash for. Choral directors don’t get fad pay, so the fact their participation has shot up just means accounting for more cool kids playing at being odd.

So with almost unlimited cash, goodwill and visibility Glee did what TV does best – openly treated its audience deplorably while exploiting and devaluing actual talent.

Tony Russo
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Tony Russo has worked as a print and digital journalist for the better part of the 21st century, writing for and editing regional weeklies, dailies and destination websites including OceanCity.com and ShoreCraftBeer.com. Tony has written two books on beer for the History Press. Eastern Shore Beer (2014) and Delaware Beer (2016). He lives in Delmar, Md. with his wife Kelly and the only of his four daughters who hasn't moved out. Together they keep their dog and cat comfortable.