Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Tumbleweeds, Crickets and Glee

You know those old western movies with the lone cowboy sitting on his horse, looking out into the vast, flat open land, while tumble weeds gently bounce and roll by?

That's how it feels to me when I post something important like (the justice that ETHAN SAYLOR deserves) and I get nothing.  No comments on Facebook, nobody shares my post, nothing....


I hear nothing but crickets and see nothing but tumble weeds floating by.

I am not including all those in the DS community as we are ALL screaming, demanding change, demanding justice.

I am talking about those who aren't directly involved.  It seems that nobody truly "gets" it or perhaps even cares.

How do tumbleweeds and crickets have anything to do with Glee?

You may be asking yourself this question.

They have nothing to do with Glee.  But I am very doubtful anyone will be sharing this post either, hence the tumbleweeds and crickets.

(wow, I am beginning to sound VERY bitter.... perhaps I will have to delve into this at a later date..)

For those of you who haven't watched Glee in a while or ever, the writers on Glee decided to do a show about guns.

They decide it would be a good idea to have Becky be the girl who brings the gun to school.  For those of you who don't watch Glee, Lauren Potter plays the character of Becky.  Becky (Lauren) is rockin an extra chromosome.  The fact that the writers wanted to give Lauren a "real life" role in this episode is awesome.  Lauren is a great actor and should be given more in depth parts.  But to give her this role...

I have been trying in my head and on paper to properly and coherently write down my views on that Glee episode.

Then the other day I was reading a fellow bloggers blog post.

WHAM! She was saying EXACTLY what I was thinking.

Her name is Becca and her blog is:
The Bates Motel

Glee, Guns and Good Judgement


I really should have seen it coming.

There was a trail of breadcrumbs a mile long, spanning back over the last 3 years, red flags of warning raised repeatedly, the taste in my mouth becoming increasingly bitter as I stumbled along, my enthusiasm waning as rapidly as the flags' frantic waving in the wind...

It all started out innocently enough.  I began watching Glee a season late, catching up on what was missed during summer re-runs.  I stood and applauded the inclusion of characters living with very real issues, subject matter as timely as any morning paper, a tongue-firmly-in-cheek attitude that made it relevant and relatable to everyone, everywhere, breeding tolerance where previously lived only derision and exclusion.  Homosexual...wheelchair-bound...multi-racial...homeless...obsessive-compulsive...teenage and pregnant...bullemic...overweight...dyslexic...developmentally-delayed...autistic...and the list goes on.  Good stuff!  It seriously covered everythingyou could imagine, including everyone in their broad and continuing (yet sublimely subtle) statement on the ills of social exclusion

I jumped up and down, waving my arms and shouting my support in particular over the show's inclusion of a character with Down syndrome.  A teenaged girl named Becky, who could very easily be my child in a few years.  Becky, on the surface, is a character for whom the producers and director should be appaluded.  A member of the cheerleading team, she made an occasional appearance while working closely with the coach to hatch her devious plots against a rival school group.  But as I continued to watch the show and began to watch Becky more closely, more critically, I felt the rise of discouragement, disappointment in her one-dimensionality, a stereotype not quite quashed in a way that made me terribly comfortable with the direction in which she was heading, the direction in which the changing of minds of the masses towards people with intellectual disabilities, the direction of true inclusion, was heading.

It seemed to be heading nowhere.

Not like I think the director owes the Down syndrome community anything, but with the overall message of being included and accepted being carried by all of the othercharacters, why couldn't it be carried just as simply, as beautifully, as gracefully, by Becky?  Could it be anything to do with the fact that the others are acting out their issues or disabilities, where Becky, played beautifully by actress Lauren Potter, actually owns her disability?

Becky is scripted as comic relief, as a girl who is never seen in class, who is never seen on the actual cheerleading squad, who is never seen as a real, contributing member of the school's social structure, just as her coach's pet, almost shielded from the woes of actual school social life.  Occasionally we get a glimpse into her feelings, as voiced-over by the amazing Dame Helen Mirren (most poignantly in a tear-inducing line stating, "It *sucks* to be me"), but without any kind of consistent anchor for Becky to hold on to outside of her coach's office, comic relief is still comic relief.  The girl with Down syndrome is still a satellite of her own, floating through the ether, peripherally involved in the plot lines, with uncomfortably silly, underwhelming lines of dialogue and cute-guy-bottom-smacking and hand-on-the-butt-of-her-prom-date-dancing.

And, as almost an apology-gone-wrong, the story took a new turn last week.

**Hey, I know!  Let's make Becky have some real issues!  Let's have her bring a gun to school, just like any other troubled teenaged kid would do!  (Incidentally, she was troubled on the show because she was worried about not knowing what would happen to her after graduation, saying that she couldn't go to college - whaaaaa?  Lauren Potter herself is in college!  Who writes this stuff??)  Let's really show how well-rounded her personality is, let's show the world that people with Down syndrome aren't always happy!  Let's feel sorry for her!**


Hold it right there, folks...


Let's just feed into the thought that perhaps people with intellectual disabilities are mentally unstable while we're at it, okay?


Let's all just feel sorry for her.  Like we should do.  Poor girl with Down syndrome, included in school because she has to be, "friends" who humor her, a coach who usesher.  You know, it's funny, I'm not sure if I'm more annoyed that they had her bring the gun to school, or if I'm more annoyed that she spoke of not being able to go to college.  There are other issues with this episode, with this new turn of events, but as I'd stated above, my issues go back further than this, and this was just the fire lit under my butt to bring it up.  Do I keep watching?  Yeah, I still like the show overall, and I still want to be able to keep an eye on what's going on with their portrayal of Becky.  Makes for good blog fodder if nothing else.  And, just by way of a disclaimer, I am not being hypocritical here - I am not about to bite the hand that feeds inclusion and empowerment and the growing anti-bullying movement, but I'd just love to see it done a little differently.

There's an excellent article here about the episode, about its impact on the people of Newtown, CT, still reeling from the unspeakable acts of horror that rained down on them, gun violence in school still too fresh in their minds, and its impact on the the special needs community.

Thanks a lot, Glee, for making some things harder than ever for our kids. How're you gonna fix this?
Thank you Becca, you took the words right out of my mouth.


  1. I agree....I feel like a broken record posting things on facebook and twitter and hardly anyone responding/sharing/commenting etc. It's dishearteneing to say the least but I'm going to keep up the fight!

    1. I am with you Crystal! I will continue to nag, I mean write and share! But when it really counts it does bother me that nobody bothers to share!

  2. Treyton's Posse has nominated you for a Liebster Blog Award. Read about it here:

    1. Rob, thank you for the nomination! I am honoured and will be doing up a few blogs over the next few weeks!

  3. No tumbleweeds or crickets from me, but you already know that! Keep writing. People ARE reading even if they are not commenting. Congrats on the Liebster!

    1. And I am so glad that you comment! Thanks! xoxoxo