Glee, not just your normal happy, peppy musical

Georgene Rice of KPDQ-FM interviews Matt Philbin, with the Culture and Media Institute, to talk about “Glee”, sex, songs, and sleeze. The hit show is not as sweet a musical as one might imagine, but rather a raunchy showcase of lewd behavior. He discusses what this says to young people about what life at their age is supposed to be about.

Georgene: The Institute’s column writes, “The popular show has caused a stir with lesbian fantasies, gay kissing, teen pregnancy, and racy photos of actors. The new season is sure to display more immorality promoting content.”

What is the general attraction to this show and what do people typically expect when they tune in?

Matt: It’s a musical comedy set in a high school centered around a Glee Club. It is generally not much different from your coming-of-age comedy except for the fact that it breaks into song now and then. A lot of people like that. Critics have praised it as being “sweet”, “quirky”, and a “joy to watch”. I suppose it might be some of those things but it is also Hollywood subjecting its morals onto middle American teenagers. The show is rife with  sexual innuendo, gay and lesbian themes, underage drinking and other things such as that.

Georgene: The column that I made reference to, by the Culture and Media Institute, says “objectionable content should be no surprise coming from Glee creator Ryan Murphy, known for pushing boundaries. He has declared that it is his goal in life to remove every barrier to the depiction of explicit sex on television.”

Matt: At least he’s up front about it, I suppose. Although recently he has said he was going to be more careful this coming season. Probably because he’s heard objections from some teens and parents. But, it premiered right after the Super Bowl and the first five minutes are calculated to draw in male Super Bowl viewers, so you can imagine what that was like.

Georgene: Some of the material on the show that we find objectionable, and you mention in the article, we can’t even refer to in our conversation on the radio. The show drew national attention when three of its teen girl actors were part of a GQ magazine spread, showing them as their characters in some pretty provocative poses.

Matt: A lot of people were upset about the shoot, even some mainstream media, because it basically borders on pedophilia. I’m sure the actors and actresses are in their twenties, but it is being sold as if they were 15 or 16 years old.

Georgene: This show has attracted as many as 3.2 million viewers on its second season premiere. Its gross sales on iTunes has been impressive as well. Is this where television is headed? MTV’s program Skins is also very provocative.

Matt: Glacially, yes, maybe it is moving that way, or maybe quicker than glacially. Primetime programming has sexual innuendo all over the place. But, we don’t need to accept it. We need to hold the makers of the shows and the networks accountable. With Skins, the Parents’ Television Council threatened a very successful boycott of the show. Its publicity caused advertisers to bail and if that program continues in that time slot it will in fact be a money loser for MTV. That’s where all this is–in making money. Subverting culture is a secondary thought. It’s about making money off of, basically, our worst instincts.

Georgene: In the program, there was one student whose emphasis has been abstinence who became pregnant, but essentially any kind of lewd illegal behavior such as underage drinking is consequence free.

Matt: What is important about the segment you mentioned is that it is done, specifically, to ridicule cultural conservatives. It leads to, what they consider, an inspiring speak from one of the characters that abstinence is just too hard, their hormones are raging so they can’t be held accountable, and that is what birth control is for. So, on that level, making fun of abstinence is rather vicious and subversive.

Georgene: And that is done periodically throughout the show. Who is the target audience for this program and who actually watches?

Matt: The 12-34 age group is the demographic. It is clearly aimed at high school kids and young adults. Like Skins, there is a problem with that. You show high school kids that sex is the norm, where sexual confusion (gay and lesbianism) which is big in the show, is the norm. It wears down the barrier of self control of sexual behavior. This program doesn’t go as far as Skins does, but it hides behind a kind of happy, peppy musical theme.

Georgene: It is important for parents to know that the show is not the program they believe it to be, not having watched it themselves. Is the most effective way for parents to show they object to this line of entertainment through the advertisers and networks?

Matt: The first course of action is always to not watch. Don’t have this on in the house if your kids are at a certain age. Then, take a look at what you can do to bring pressure on the networks and on the creators of these shows. Let them know this in not acceptable for prime time viewing.

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