Monday, April 2, 2012

'Cause You Were Born This Way, Baby

Throughout the first season of Glee, the series could arguably be seen as a show that conforms to society’s stereotypes whereby, “it turns its characters into what our society expects”. Finn’s character in the show can be seen as meeting the socially constructed definition of ideal masculinity such as being heterosexual and involved in sports, whereas Quinn's character can be seen as meeting the societal definition of being the ideal female.

Upon examining Chris Colfer, I argue that he is the most transformed character over the course of the following seasons, moving being a man ashamed of his homosexuality to completely embracing it and becoming a hyper-sexualized, gay icon. Kurt begins the series as a boy who feels the need to lie about his sexuality, so much so that he when he is caught by his father for wearing a unitard and dancing to the song “Single Ladies” by Beyonce in episode 4, he decides to lie to his dad that he is wearing that costume as part of football training. This scene directly exemplifies the social stigma attached to the idea of being homosexual, where in the case of Kurt, he feels the obligation to maintain a certain level of masculinity while at the same time covering up for his feminineness.

As the series progresses, the audience begins to see Kurt taking on a more sexual-liberating role by embracing his sexual orientation and flaunting it. Within the blogpost by Allison McCracken entitled, “Glee: Kurt and the Casting Couch,” she gives the example of Kurt’s performance of Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way,” in which the song represents Kurt’s coming out not as a gay man but as a sexually confident one, ready to play. He has transitioned from a character afraid to show his true self to even his family, to a man completely comfortable with who he is and can be viewed as a role model for young male audiences. At the same time, Kurt’s acceptance of the cultural feminine has made him an icon of identification and desire for the girls who can sing along with him, and who share his feelings of isolation, longing, and gender-as-performance. Kurt traditionally sings songs originally by female artists and is viewed as the more “feminine” male in his relationship with actor Darien Criss. Kurt no longer feels the need to overtly express masculine traits in order to be seen as a “true man” or be accepted by society, he is a character who moves between the gender binaries and assumes several identities over the course of the series.

This quote below is from an episode in the 3rd season, and I thought it emplifies the point I am making above that Kurt is able to be anyone he wants and does not have to fit into the structured, socially constructed binaries of society. He is being accused of not being manly enough and Burt is describing how he assumes multiple identities.

Burt Hummel: Dude you're gay.
Kurt Hummel: Excuse me?
Burt Hummel: You're gay. And you're not like Rock Hudson gay, you're really gay. You sing like Dianna Ross and and you dress like you own a magic chocolate factory.
Kurt Hummel: I don't know if you've noticed, but no one's really looking for a Kurt Hummel type to play the opposite Kate Hudson in a rom com. I'm just me.

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