Gchattin’ #Glee: Season 2 Ep. 3

October 14th, 2010 § 2 comments § permalink

We share many things in common including a fondness for musicals, sweet potato fries, and Lauryn Hill, but what keeps us talking every Tuesday night (or Wednesday morning), other than overall deepness, is our LOVE of Glee.

Since 800 miles between Chicago and New York separates us, Google gets a major shoutout for helping us stay connected. And because Glee is kind of deep, it’s only natural that it’d end up on the blog. So behold the first installment of our weekly “gchattin glee.” (We’re kinda late and currently starting one episode behind this week’s, but we’ll catch up.) Join us in the comments section.

Season 2 Episode 3:
“Grilled Cheesus”

So…first thoughts?

Amber: I think overall this was a very solid episode. It was definitely EXTREMELY layered and they tackled a lot of issues, but I think for the most part they did it well.

Liz: Yeah. Agreed. I thought they handled the different view points pretty well…of course there were the random stuff….I was kind of disappointed with the gospel or should I say “gospel.” Although, I did love that version of Bridge Over Troubled Water.

Amber: Yes! So, when the episode first began, I was CONVINCED that it was going to be a gospel episode and was beside myself with excitement. And then unfortunately suffered a very real disappointment when that was not the case.

Liz: Yeah, that first song Mercedes sang was pretty generic. And I had the same thought too…”YES! Please Gospel….oh wait….maaaaan…..”

Amber: Right?! I mean come on, Mercedes is like a gospel powerhouse and they know this!!! For a second I thought they were going to have her sing “His Eye is on the Sparrow” and I swear had that happened I would have died…happy.

Liz: That would’ve been amazing!!! Best song. Better than what she did.

Amber: Totally. I also thought their rendition of Bridge Over Troubled Water was well done, but since you bring it up, can we please discuss the Black Church scene??!! So deeeep!

Liz: Ha! You mean the classic ”look, it’s Hollywood’s version of a Black church with every possible stereotypical symbol to represent it.” And that’s the most POC Glee has ever seen…

Amber: Yes, YES! I was thinking the same thing. So the church is where all the Black people in Lima, Ohio hang out. That one black football player probably goes there too and was chillin in the back row. His grandmama is head of the usher board.

Liz: LOL. Indeed. I was trying to imagine that casting call.

Amber: To be honest though, they probably did just roll up in a Black church and stick a flyer on the bulletin board…i’m just sayin.

Liz: It would be the easiest way…It’s interesting to me that the only actual religious space shown is a Black church. What do you think of that? Given that it’s meant to be an episode that covers “religion” in a broad sense.

Amber: It’s very interesting that you bring that up. I think it’s a lot like you said earlier, the Black Church is a symbol that Hollywood feels comfortable using to represent religion and a number of other things, such as community, personal and emotional strength, and of course the music…we can’t forget about the music. In a way, these are things are characteristic to the Black Church and can be found in it’s history. But they become dramatized, exaggerated, and taken out of context in Hollywood’s presentation of them and what is produced is more of an imagined version of the Black Church that is closer to stereotyping than reality.

Liz: And by creating an imagined version it becomes a “safe” zone. Not sure why or what that means…especially since Black churches have historically been a powerful force of political and social change (not exactly “safe”). So where’s the bite? It’s usually outside the church walls in Hollywood. Here (and in other shows/movies) we see a place where white people might feel welcome…they may be a little uncomfortable but they’re getting hugged! As opposed to all the other Hollywood images of black communities which tell you that you better watch your back….and duck into the nearest church. And because that makes them more comfortable, they’re less uncomfortable with the religious part. All making it “safe.”

Amber: Safe Black spaces for white people. LOL. Hilarious. I totally agree with you, I think in this case it’s “safe” because like we said, it’s a presentation of religion that is familiar within mainstream Hollywood. Also, Kurt could visit a Black Church and be removed, engaged, and touched at all the same time–welcomed into the loving Black community where older Black women, “the mothers” of the church (Okaay pentecostals!), give you hugs and encouraging smiles.

Liz: The hugs and smiles (and hand holding) would totally happen lol…just sayin’. Haha. But yeah…

Amber: Not if he was wearing that hat…I’m just sayin…lol.

Liz: Yeah I definitely thought that too. Like, riiiight….he wouldn’t get any looks?

Amber: He would’ve gotten a whole lot more than looks…smdh. Although, I have to say, it looked good on him, he was rocking it!

Liz: He was! And somebody else in the church was feelin it too. I’m still stuck on the fact that it was the one space shown…so interesting to me. Hollywood loves this scene (hey I can love it too).

Amber: I agree with you, it’s a great point, and to be completely honest, it was another one of my assumptions from the beginning. I just felt in my bones that eventually there would be a Black church scene by virtue of religion being the central theme of the episode and because Mercedes is a main character (with a mean Aretha Franklin alto).

Liz: Yeah. And I was thinking about how a white church scene would probably be very liturgical, high church and therefore come off as dry…or it could be hands in the air and shouting and that comes off as threatening (in a religious zealot sorta way).

Amber: On the other hand, a Black Church scene is pretty standard in Hollywood, all you need is black people, choir robes, and some fans, and you’re good.

Liz: Add a good man and you have a Tyler Perry movie. ;)

Amber: Ha! True that. OK…so what did we think of Kurt’s views on God and the Church?

Liz: Hmmm….which were, there is no God?

Amber: Yes, but I also think that he was very defensive. Even though he firmly stated that he didn’t believe in God, it was clear that much of his reasoning was heavily influenced by negative experiences with religion. There was a lot of anger there, which I do believe is warranted, and it’s interesting that the writing emphasized that pain.

Liz: I think you’re right. He seemed to suggest his beliefs were based on logic, but it was also obviously very emotional. His pain is real. But Mercedes in the end points out that his defensiveness is hurting his friendships. People are reaching out to him, not to pressure him, but because they care about him.

Amber: Agreed. But I do think that when you don’t subscribe to others’ beliefs it can become a tricky situation. Especially because in this case it was very personal. They weren’t just having lunch one day and somebody decided to be a witness…ya dig? So I can understand where he is coming from in the sense that if he didn’t think prayers were going to work, why waste his time indulging his friends?

Liz: Totally. I’ll say one of my favorite scenes was between Sue and her sister, when her sister asks “do you want me to pray for you?” I got a little teary eyed (of course), because I think that’s so powerful. Ask the question! These kids (cuz they’re in high school right? unh-huh) can just ask the question. Can I pray for you and your dad? The answer will be what it will be…and if it’s no, then that’s okay. Nothing says a prayer has to be public anyway.

Amber: This is true and I think in the end he did realize that his friends were just trying to help him in the ways that they knew how and it was the sentiment that mattered. The love and support of your friends during tough times is very important.

Liz: Yeah. But I definitely agree that they were really expecting him to respond to their desires rather than what he needed….which is perhaps either the fault of the characters or the writing (and how they may see prayer).

Amber: Explaaaain.

Liz: lol. Which part?

Amber:How the writers may see prayer…?”

Liz: Well I got to thinking about this idea that prayer in this show was very public…they all wanted to show Kurt that they were praying for his Dad. Which might suggest that the writers see prayer as more of a communication between people rather than a person and God. Not that people don’t get together and pray…cuz we know they do but…you get what I’m sayin?

Amber: I do, but I also think that the a major underlying theme of the show is self-expression through song and through the club, and that the easiest way to have an open conversation about religion was to do it through the music, which in turn made the prayers seem very public.

Liz: True. And I don’t necessarily pin my interpretation on the writers. Religion + Hollywood is sooo hard and usually not very good…so I give them kudos for not totally pissing me off. Lol.

Amber: Word. I actually loved how they ended the episode. The “What if God was One of Us” number was so perfect and worked so well with Kurt being honest with his father about not believing in God, but believing in the two of them together as a unit. I thought it was pretty powerful.

Liz: Agreed. It also emphasizes our humanity – there’s something to unravel: the “sacred” emphasizes our humanity. If we ask the question, what if God was one of us, then we have to examine how we treat each other…and how perhaps we treat God. Also, side note…I loved Kurt singing “I Wanna Hold Your Hand.” And Kurt can cry….for real. He makes me teary-eyed…or makes me cry (ahem). Best crier on the show? Yes.

Amber: Oh, hands-down. He also has the cold shoulder thing covered. He legitimately gives THE BEST side-eye. Loves it. One of my fave scenes was when Finn tried to hug him and he gave him the “Boo, really though? Let’s not even go there” face. Priceless. Passed D.A.R.E. with flying colors!

Liz: LOL. So true.

Amber: I also thought that they made excellent use of “the sacred,” first introducing it when Kurt’s Dad attempts to explain why “Friday night dinners” are important, and then bringing it around full circle at the end of the episode when Kurt proclaims his belief in the sanctity of family! Good job, writers.

Liz: It was a good Glee theme…they always have one. ;) (although next episode and next discussion – what the heck was that theme?). But it was interesting to think of it in the context of high school students trying to figure it out. And the adults around them (help or hinder?).

Amber: Indeed. Actually, I thought that the adults (minus Sue) were pretty hands off this episode and left open a lot of room for exploration, especially Mr. Schu and Emma. And “grilled cheesus” is hilarious…also pretty darn good writing, I must say.

Liz: Oh, Finn…you make me afraid. (Also side note…but speaking of Jesus images, have you seen Henry Poole Is Here? Good movie.)

Amber: I have not…I’ll put it on my list. ;) Any other thoughts/themes worthy of discussion?

Liz: Well…there was the Religion and State aspect….Sue represented the classic argument against any religious representation in schools. Although, she came around (the show arguing that it’s a form of student expression?).

Amber: I still think they should do a real gospel episode…I’m just sayin.

Liz: Can we start a petition???? PLEASE. I would be soooo happy. I’ll even make a list of suggestions. Lol.

Amber: YES. Petition in the comments section. ;) And I already have some suggestions too “1. Mercedes to sing Mahalia Jackson….”

Liz: Amen. ;)

God Bless America?: Being White, Christian and American

September 17th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

Well Amber,

You may have been on hiatus, but you came back in full force. If there’s a topic that will get me really fired up, this is it (well….there are probably many topics like that, but this is one of them). This is a myth I hate: the white American Christian whose religion is (un)equally a patriotic and biblical one.

Why do I hate this myth so much? Because it’s a mask and Christianity (as a faith) is about taking off masks. Because it’s banking on a privilege and Christians should be working hard to dismantle that privilege, not tapping into it. Because it alienates and hurts.

Because, what would Jesus do? ;)

First, cut the Christian nation talk. Stop demanding that America turn back to God. Glenn Beck is wrong – America does not need to turn back to God. A country can’t turn back to whom it was never with. The country may have been founded on cultural religious principles, but it was hardly spiritual. Ain’t nothin spiritual about owning slaves or genocide.

Here’s the raw difference: there’s Christianity the culture and Christianity the faith. The white American Christian myth is cultural. The faith should not be. But the distinction is often lost.

Christians need to understand the power of cultural Christianity as a privilege and guard against it. White American Christians must understand the peculiar and potent mix of their privilege. The myth of a Christian nation is intoxicating…to white Christians. Because, it’s branded for us. How easy is it to entwine God and country when the American narrative is always about you? Why shouldn’t God be too?


It hurts me when I hear white Christians talk so easily of the “American church” as if it is a monolith – a body that sees, hears and experiences the same things. Or when my boss (of former years) sees my cross and assumes I’m Republican. It hurts when white Christians act as if they don’t need to try to understand another Christian’s perspective or leave their racism unchecked or their sexism becomes entwined with their Christian language. I am tired of Christian arguments with no historical context. I am so frustrated with a white Christian culture that has settled in a hotel penthouse in America, only to lumber out if threatened – but not when others feel threatened. I so tired of a (white) religion of charity without justice.

Life is complicated. The world is complicated. Being a Christian doesn’t make it less so. If anything, it highlights the need to understand how complicated it is. And unfortunately, the church as an institution is a part of that complication. America’s “christianity” (the one referred to in all the speeches) has been a religion allied with power – building up slavery and wealth, fighting against the rights of others, producing fear and prejudice.

The white American Christian myth draws its power from privilege. That’s not what Jesus does. His power is distinctly dis-privileged. And more powerful. His is the one that marched against dogs and hoses.

“Woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint, dill, and cummin and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. It is these you ought to have practiced without neglecting the others. You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel!”  - Jesus =)

I look forward to the day when politicians no longer invoke God or use certain “christian” code words. I just don’t think we serve the same God.

God bless….?

Where Racial and Religious Discrimination Meet

August 27th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

So Amber,

Twenty days later and I gotta come back to this mosque topic. I’m heated again. The latest is this video:

I wanted to tear some heads off when I saw this. Scream. Cry. The works. It is disgustingly ugly. 

And racial.

They may be chanting “No Mosque here” but it is so much more than fear of a religion. It demonstrates that the perceptions of Islam in America (and the Western world) are racialized. This man, trying to get through a crowd, is chanted at, verbally abused and dehumanized because he is a man of color and he wore a “weird” hat. The combination of the two signaled to the crowd that he was Muslim. Because he was (perceived to be) Muslim, he must be their opponent.

I read a comment that said (not a direct quote) “Stop saying its racist stupid. It’s a religion.” And this is what I want to talk about. Why this video is racist.

I’ve made comments to people before about how racist the language against Islam is, and they often don’t understand me. They understand that the language isn’t good, but they don’t see race involved. The color of someone’s skin is never verbalized, so how is it racist? It’s about religion and culture.

But here it is to see. A sea of white faces angrily following a black man and chanting. As he puts it, “All ya’ll dumb motherfuckers don’t even know my opinion on shit.”

But they think they do. Because of how he appears. Because they see Islam as a religion that is not white. Because he is a black man wearing certain clothing. Because they see him as other. As foreign. As not American (you know, the “real” America).

What is “other” to them? Islam is. Blackness is. In the context of a protest against Islam (or a Mosque at Ground Zero…whichever you want to say), race becomes a stand-in for religion.

It doesn’t matter that he says, “I’m not even Muslim.”

Why is this video racist? Why are the conversations European countries have about ridding their countries of the influence of Islam racist? Why are tv shows, movies, articles about terrorism so often racist? Because race and religion cross each other is so many contexts. Because one is used to characterize the other. Nothing is scarier than a black Muslim man.

I can barely write this without wanting to rip something to shreds. This entire issue makes me so upset: Real people are hurt by this bullshit. Politicians can bow to polls like it doesn’t matter, but real people are hurt. This man does not walk away from it unscathed. Neither do those who watch it and feel the heat and anger directed towards them.

This is when I really hate the world.

I wanted this post to be more thoughtful, more intellectual, but right now, it can only come out as emotional. It’s just too deep.

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