I’m not a Gleek. I watched the first few episodes of the season and was kinda turned off by the in-your-face cheese factor. Yeah, I also got distracted by the CW’s 90210 and Melrose Place. (What can I say, I’ve been a Darren Star-created programming fiend since the hottest couple at West Bev was Brenda and Dylan.) Anyway, I had dismissed the “high school musical” show until I heard they were gonna do a Gaga ep, but not before a Madonna tribute. I still know the choreography to my “Material Girl” dance recital and The Immaculate Collection was the first CD I ever bought, so clearly, I am not a girl who can resist a high-profile tribute to Her Madgjesty. And, I adored it, I sang along, I felt like dancing, and I wished several times that I was watching it on the big screen TV (that Dan was using at the time to watch the NJ Devils lose to the Philly Flyers)… I was also pleased that the theme was female empowerment. Cheerleading coach Sue Sylvester forces the principal to play the new Madonna’s greatest hits CD (shameless plug) over the PA at top volume to help empower her Cheerios with the Madge edge. At one point, Sue credits the Material Girl with having “self-confidence…power over her body…and sexual magnetism.” These are the reasons I used to defend Madonna when my mom would shriek that she was all ambition, no talent, just good at tapping into a zeitgeist, typical egomanical Leo. I’d say, “No! She’s a feminist heroine!” And that was pretty much the theme of the night—honoring Madge as a heroine and trying to instill in the younger generation of chicas that they can and should express themselves, own their sexuality and feel empowered all at once. Bravo to that!!
But, sigh… As Feministing points out in this brilliant story and this also spot-on post, there are some splotches on the Glee-ful female empowerment flag. Like the “Pretty ugly” post points out, songbird Rachel Berry is supposedly fug? OK, I’m not saying that it doesn’t seem like it couldn’t happen in real life. When I was in high school, 96% of the guys wouldn’t look twice at me, a 4’11”, pear-shaped, somewhat-chubby (but attractive!) Jewish girl. Most seemed to idolize the tall, blonde, blue-eyed, athletic type. So, I’m actually not questioning that a petite, musical theater-loving brunette could be considered fug in HS. But, I still think it’s ridiculous that gorgeous and might I say “Borderline” too thin Lea Michele is supposedly the ugly girl. Actually, she may just be considered the ugly girl by other girls. At least in this episode. As the “Senior Prank” story notes, in the opening scene of the episode, Rachel’s female peers are ripping her for being fug, in a clearly disconcerting way complete with anti-Semitic cartoon notebook doodle. This is not OK. These little brats need to face some comeuppance for their girl-on-girl crime. Yet, there’s no Ms. Norbury-style lecture here.
Just Mr. Schue asking to interrupt the girls’ “little sorority meeting.” Eye roll. Well, maybe we can look forward to some Mean Girls lessons learned in future episodes…
These annoyances aside, overall, “The Power of Madonna” episode was pure pop pleasure. And hey, hopefully, it’ll actually get tween and teen ladies (and hey, guys, too) really talking about “What It Feels Like For a Girl.” If you missed it on Tuesday, and you’d like to catch it on the big screen TV, you’re in luck. There’s an encore tonight, 9/8 central on FOX.
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