In tonight’s episode of Glee, Kurt and Finn end up sharing a room when Finn and his mom move into the Hummel home. Kurt has a serious crush on Finn, and Finn notices, and addresses it in a certain scene. The whole situation is bad–Kurt has a crush on Finn, Finn feels uncomfortable with the new situation and the fact that he has to share a room with someone who has a crush on him, Kurt denies this when Finn calls him out on it.
But then it goes from bad to horrible when Finn looks around the room and begins using “faggy” to describe the decor Kurt picked for their room. And that’s where Kurt’s father comes in (quote under cut):
Burt: “Hey! What did you just call him?”
Finn: “Oh, no no—I didn’t call him anything—I was talking to the blanket—”
Burt: “You use that word, you’re talking about him.”
Kurt: “Dad, I didn’t take it that way—”
Burt: “Yeah, that’s because you’re sixteen and you still assume the best in people. You live a few years, you start seeing the hate in people’s hearts. Even the best people. [to Finn] You use the n-word?”
Finn: “No, of course not.”
Burt: “You call that nice girl in Cheerios, with Kurt, you call her a retard?”
Finn: “No, she’s my friend—she’s got Down syndrome, I don’t call her that, that’s cruel—“
Burt: “But you think you can come in my house and say faggy?”
Finn: “That’s not what I meant—”
Burt: “I know what you meant! What, you don’t think I didn’t use that word when I was your age? You know, some kid—some kid gets clocked in practice, we tell him, ‘Stop being such a fag, shake it off.’ We meant it exactly the way you meant it. That being gay is wrong, that it’s some kind of punishable offense. I really thought you were different, Finn. You know, I thought that being in Glee club, and being raised by your mom, meant that you were some new generation of dude who saw things differently, who just came into the world knowing what it’s taken me years of struggling to figure out. I guess I was wrong.”
This scene…this scene was amazing.
Especially in regards to a conversation I had with my dad today. I was telling him how tired I was reading about privilege and racism and sexism and the incredible amount of stupidity and ignorance every where. He noted that this was what I chose to study, what I cared about. And he told me there was a possibility of hope in certain circumstances–he mentioned that if people of color were able to become part of the process, then portrayals of people of color could become more realistic and less demeaning.
I think Glee shows an example of that here. Ryan Murphy actually created Kurt for Chris Colfer, based on himself. And I think that’s why Kurt’s problems and such are carried over throughout the season, and why his dad is such a big character and why this speech is so incredibly true.
In fact, let’s go back to the speech.
The reason I love it so much is because there is so much honesty and love and understanding in it. First, Burt notes that Finn doesn’t use other harmful epithets, but he thinks it’s okay to use “faggy” to Kurt’s face, even though he knows it will hurt him and it’s meant to hurt him.
Then he notes that despite his intention, despite “what he meant,” that Burt knows the underlying reason for the word’s existence and why Finn thinks it’s supposedly okay to use. He traces the origins of the word’s hatred, back to how he used and what kind of agenda it in and of itself it pushes.
Next (and this was the most revealing), he notes that he thought Finn was special in that he knew this–that he knew the problems Kurt had to face, how painful the word is and why it’s usage is so disgusting. And Burt thought Finn illustrated a new hope–he invested his idealism within Finn, like he was a representative of a generation that wouldn’t be ignorant of such things. And when Burt admits that he himself had to work on this, but thought that Finn knew this inherently, it is just…so real.
As someone who is sometimes shocked to learn and/or hear people talk in ways that are hurtful and bigoted and condescending when I thought of them as being progressive and smart, goosebumps ran down my back at the harsh truth Burt was preaching.
What a wonderful piece of television. While I noted before that Glee is a problematic television show, I also said that it’s a show that has real potential as well. And tonight it lived up to it.