Something about Bill O’Reilly really pisses me off. I’d say it’s hard to put my finger on it, but it’s kind of already there and hard to deny. I know, I could be talking about anything right now, can’t I? This time it’s about the character Unique on ‘Glee’. How have I avoided talking about last spring’s latest diversity inclusion on my favorite progressive hit TV show? I must be off my game or something.
For you culturally confounding people who read my blog, but for some reason don’t watch ‘Glee’, I’ll explain a bit. The main cast of characters, the one’s you see in all the promos and commercials, has a rival group called Vocal Adrenaline. VA is housed conveniently a few blocks away from our chirpy band of misfits in this forgotten corner of Ohio that somehow produces a multitude of nationally renowned glee clubs at the high school level. A new superstar emerges at VA, encouraged by rivals, who belts out numbers that would make Diana Ross gnash her teeth in jealous rage. The new star, using Unique as a stage name, is revealed to occupy a male existence off stage.
It hasn’t yet been made clear if Unique is a transsexual figuring herself out, or a stage drag queen who is comfortable with a male identity at all other times. Plenty of time to explore that. Either way, anyone under the trans umbrella is a welcome addition. It took TV land long enough to break the race barrier, along with the interracial relationship barrier, and far longer to crack the gay barrier, but it looks like our turn has finally come around. I seriously don’t count goofy gender bending for laughs schtick like ‘Bosom Buddies’ or the short lived ‘Work It’.
As expected, conservative pundits declared the ruination of America, which makes perfect sense after ‘The Jefferson’s’ and ‘Will and Grace’ somehow failed in that regard. I mean something is bound to topple us into Armageddon, so it might as well be an African-American kid in drag. Old Bill O’Reilly spoke out in defense of our nation’s youth and shamed the Fox network of all people, for providing an example for impressionable young children to follow straight toward the hot and rusty gates of Hell. Wait... what?
I’ll admit, I don’t know his personal history and I’m not in the mood to Wikipedia him to see his youthful accomplishments as a scrappy stickball player from Hell’s Kitchen, or the real life inspiration for hit 80’s show ‘Silver Spoons’. For all I know he was created from dust into the form of a disagreeable old curmudgeon we see today and thus knows not the ways of American male youth culture. Those of us who do, however, are dead certain that putting on a dress is not the path to bona fide stud muffin popularity. Yes, at some point things might change as they often do, but I really think that it’s a stretch to say that a boy in a skirt has got the Vegas odds of becoming prom king. Male youth popularity is firmly rooted in the paradigm that girls have to want you and other boys have to want to be like you. Most girls are just never going to want the guy in the dress and most boys are never going to want to go that distance to emulate him, no matter how cool he might be in other areas.
Assuming this is true, and it is, what the hell is Mr Bill going on about? “Oh nooo! Kids are going to start taking the least effective ever road to popularity! Oh noooo!” My older readers are going to get that, but if you don’t, you are probably too young and let it be. What he is really crying about of course is that mass exposure to something not well understood at large works in favor of making it OK. When someone lives by pat little truisms like “girls are girls and boys are boys” have their diminutive orderly worldview challenged by real life complexity, they get a little grumpy. They are now forced into the position of either reconsidering their position and putting some honest hard thought and research into an issue, or jumping up and down and insisting that danger and ruin lay in wait.
We all understand that Unique is a welcome addition to our viewing pleasure. We all know that no straight boy, comfortable in his male gender identity, is going to be inspired to raid mom’s closet for her best chiffon and start belting out show tunes. We also know that there are kids watching, lounging on the couch and doing their very best to look disinterested, who know there is something deep inside of them that is wrong and different. Seeing Unique might make them feel just a little less alone, a little less of a freak in hiding, and spark a tiny ray of hope. Sometimes that is really all a person needs to decide to keep living one more day.