Making the Grades
It is no surprise the hit television show Glee has already found a place in movie theaters. The series’ original creator Ian Brennan first intended Glee to be a film, but the concept made it’s way to television and the rest is history. Unlike the episodes, which place brief snippets of drama between the highly choreographed musical numbers, this concert movie focuses on delivering what I suspect the vast number of audience members really love—the music. Ranging from show tunes like Don’t Rain On My Parade, to boomer rock hits such as Don’t Stop Believing and Safety Dance, right up to current radio staples including Fireworks and Born This Way, the age spanning soundtrack is nothing short of a marketing coup.
"Gleeks" should be especially pleased with the 3D concert experience, which makes up about 80% of the production. When the tunes aren’t playing, the real life stories of three Glee fans unfolds. This provides a format similar to the television series, but the non-fiction narrative feels more authentic.
A young lady short of stature talks of finally being asked to prom by another high school boy of average height and how this event became a turning point in her life. Another young woman with Asperger Syndrome shares how isolated she felt until another female friend gave her the support she longed for. Finally, a young man explains how he knew he was gay since middle school but wasn’t able to fully reveal this aspect of his personality until years later. These three mini-documentaries share the common threads of inclusion, as well as helping young people understand and accept others with differences.
Along that line, the movie verbally touts the importance of liking ourselves for who we are, regardless of body shape or size. Yet visually, the many female dancers shown sporting exposed legs and cleavage don’t have an ounce of fat to spare, Meanwhile any "full figure" gals are kept dressed from top to bottom. (I’m not suggesting that they too should be clothed in the tiny bikinis seen on some of the girls, I simply note the double standard.)
Short snippets of countless other frenzied fans are also featured. Listening to them trumpet the merits of Glee however, sounds a lot like outright promotional testimonials.
Parents wondering about the suitability of this film for their teens should be aware that Glee the movie presents the same mix of controversial messages found in Glee the television series. While the big screen edition contains far less sexual dialogue and innuendo than the small screen version, you can expect some sexual dance moves involving heterosexual and homosexual themes. Families comfortable with the weekly show will likely not find anything more here to be concerned about. However those who are not familiar with the television series may want to catch an episode or two prior to attending Glee: The 3D Concert Movie.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Glee: The 3D Concert Movie.
What differences do you see in the way female performers are dressed in this concert versus the male performers? What differences do you see between women with larger figures versus smaller? Are these double standards? Why do you think they exist in a media product that claims to promote equality and positive body image messages?
How does watching a concert in a theater compare to seeing it live? What are the benefits? What are the downsides? Did the audience in your theater engage in the music same way as the audience shown on the screen?