Glee: Kurt and the Casting Couch

October 19, 2011
By | 29 Comments

In the second episode of Glee’s new season, “I Am Unicorn,” Kurt’s character loses the romantic lead in the school musical, West Side Story, to his more masculine boyfriend Blaine. The episode was both fascinating and confounding because instead of interrogating masculinist gender hierarchies, usually one of the show’s great strengths, the show affirmed them, making the argument that Kurt could not sufficiently turn on women because he was too “delicate,” “fragile,” “too much of a lady” and “not Rock Hudson gay, but gay gay.” The adjective “feminine,” was oddly never employed, although it would have been much more suitable for describing Kurt than “delicate,” especially given that the character had just performed an audition that displayed considerable upper body strength. “I am Unicorn” celebrates Kurt’s “theatricality” while simultaneously trying to contain and deny any erotic response. This confused text exposes the social anxieties and gender biases of the powers that be, and suggests a larger cultural disconnect at work between the promoters of U.S. media culture and their audiences.

The central contradiction at work here was the assertion that Kurt could not be an object of erotic attraction for women and girls, when in fact, beyond Glee’s textual confines, the opposite is true. Female (and many gay-identifying) fans eroticize Kurt/Chris Colfer constantly — more than any other character on Glee – at his concerts and in countless online fan sites. Kurt/Chris is a nexus of identification and desire for fans worldwide, and it is precisely his unique blend of feminine and masculine characteristics – his genderqueerness– that audiences find erotic about him. It is also what cultural authorities find discomfiting. Colfer is both feminine and an out gay man, and his popularity proves that his femininity and gayness do not preclude his eroticization; fan reactions to Colfer are notably not those of mere “tolerance” or “acceptance” but rather of passionate love and unbridled enthusiasm for the new queer erotics that he embodies.

Internationally, Colfer is in good company. Feminine men are the heartthrobs of popular culture around the world, particularly in Asia and Europe. U.S. culture, however, has historically been more resistant to the feminine male performer, belittling him and disciplining his audiences by tying his femininity to the stigma of homosexuality. But American youth today have been raised with mainstream gay images, and they widely support gay marriage; they also embrace a variety of gender-transgressive behaviors and many identify themselves as transgender. Many youth no longer even recognize cultural content that used to be marginalized as “gay” or connotatively queer. As anyone who attended the Glee summer concert tour (as I did) knows, Colfer is a popular idol, and fans react to him with the same erotic intensity as they did to the Beatles: screaming, crying, and tearing at their hair in ecstasy. Colfer and Darren Criss (who plays Kurt’s boyfriend Blaine) were the focus of the tour, which was attended by more than 500,000 fans. Colfer is mobbed in public, and he is the only Glee actor to have a permanent personal bodyguard because of the fervency of some fans.  Even as Colfer was galvanizing stadiums of fans this summer, however, U.S. media figures continued to make assertions that he did not have erotic appeal for girls. Even many who support gay rights or are even themselves gay, could not understand or did not support a feminine fashionisto as a mainstream erotic figure. One sarcastic 19-year-old female fan made a video retort to one such charge, made by a more masculine gay performer.

Trying to undercut Colfer’s erotic appeal at this point, however, is like locking the padlock door after the horses have bolted. The sexual component of Kurt/Chris’s appeal has actually intensified in the last 6 months. When Colfer first started Glee, he was an 18-year-old boy; he has since grown 5 inches, become leaner by 20 pounds, and become increasingly aware of himself as a sexual subject and object. His positioning as an erotic object in the text became decisive when the very attractive Blaine first kissed Kurt in March (a romantic moment between two men that was so intense it lost the program substantial viewers). The “Born This Way” number, which Colfer performed both on Glee this past April and on tour, represented Kurt’s coming out not as a gay man but as a sexually confident one, ready to play. Gay male fans became more visibly interested in Colfer, and he started ranking in national gay polls as among the top “hot” young men. Even more than “Born This Way,” Colfer’s concert performances of “Single Ladies” were the sexiest of the set, considerably more sensual than his performance of the number on the series two years before; his pelvic thrusts, gyrating hips, head tosses, and protruding tongue signaled to fans that he was all grown up.

Colfer fans were thrilled to see that he had passed through puberty, and they felt freer to eroticize him as a result.

Colfer fans fetishize all parts of his body and his gender performance, both the standard features of the young male heartthrob (eyes, ass, chest, arms, bulge, pelvic thrusts, “grinding”) and the more feminine or non-gendered aspects (clavicle, neck, tongue, profile, posture, fluidity of movement, hip gyrations, facial expressivess, “gay” hair, high-pitched voice). His talent as an actor gives a particularly affective charge to his androgyny, and Colfer is also a highly autoerotic performer, who frequently touches himself in areas that fans then eroticize. The beauty and variety Colfer offers make him ripe for fantasies of every kind, and he is an icon of Tumblr and other fan sites, which offer fan art, photocollages, videos, and fiction of Kurt/Chris in a variety of romantic/erotic roles that often transgress gender norms: (art credit alphonse-hummel.tumblr.com.)

While some fans exhibited disappointment with “I Am Unicorn,” they were undeterred. Colfer’s unexpected popularity has opened up a space for the queer-identified feminine male as erotic object on U.S. television that is not likely to be easily contained. Fans have gone about their eroticizing business in defiance of the cultural authorities that seek to dissuade them, which is perhaps the most significant aspect of this entire discourse.

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29 Responses to “ Glee: Kurt and the Casting Couch ”

  1. Rhovanion on October 19, 2011 at 6:57 PM

    This article seems to focus mainly on the feminine aspects of Chris Colfer, but honestly he’s a rather masculine person.

  2. RachelA on October 19, 2011 at 7:07 PM

    I want to start by saying I love this article. I think your overall analysis is spot-on and extremely well articulated. The only thing I wanted to flag is your use of the term “genderqueer.” I’m not entirely sure it is appropriate in this context. Admittedly, it is by its very nature a difficult term to define. But I have always understood gender queerness to be a fundamental rejection of being absorbed into the gender binary as a man OR as a woman. Now granted Chris Colfer and Kurt Hummel can both be rather feminine at times, but both the actor and the character are unequivocally men. His masculinity is often highly inflected with the feminine, but he is ALWAYS called ‘he’, he is always narrated and understood as being male. Therefore I don’t think you can call him (either the character or the actor) genderqueer. A man being feminine isn’t genderqueer as long as you are still reasonably sure the person is a man. Only when a persons’ foundational gender is unclear (within the schema of male/female) is that person genderqueer…at least to my knowledge.

    • Cassie on October 19, 2011 at 7:20 PM

      I have always understood the term “genderqueer” to mean exactly what it does in this context. Someone who rejects the gender binary not by identifying as neither, but someone who rejects the notion that there is a binary in the first place. If I want to have traits that are considered masculine even though I’m technically female I should be able to embrace them within myself rather than having gender defined by rigid social notions. That’s just how I’ve always understood it, but perhaps I’m wrong.

      • Kate on October 29, 2011 at 11:50 AM

        I agree with you actually. I would say that definition is right and what I would term genderqueer. Very interesting article.

  3. ... on October 19, 2011 at 8:00 PM

    Well 1st Chris =/= Kurt, Chris is not as feminine as Kurt, he is hot. PERIOD. I really can’t comprehend why people find it weird that he has fangirls, is it written somewhere that you can’t be attracted by people regardless of their sexual orientation?

  4. Judith on October 19, 2011 at 8:03 PM

    This article is so true and it really needed to be voiced at last. Thank you! One of the most frustrating things for Kurt/Chris Colfer fans is that Glee and Fox are constantly trying to push forward the safer Blaine/DarrenCriss who is a straight actor playing a gay character and Glee and Fox are constantly trying to encourage the Glee fans and others beyond Glee to find Blaine/Darren the more sexually appealing. Darren Criss came into Glee with a large young teenage fanbase who all scream very loudly, but there are no where near as many of these fans as there are of Kurtsies and Colferites, yet these fans are the ones Glee and Fox are pandering too. They try to cover up Kurt/Chris as much as possible and when they write descriptively of Kurt they have other characters describe him as delicate or use terms like ‘his stick-thin arms’, or use other terms that downplay his sexual attraction and appeal. They have a storyline coming up in which another gay character is introduced and this character persues Blaine rather than Kurt and Kurt has to try to fight to keep Blaine. The Kurt/Chris fans are finding this extremely insulting and frustrating as we can all see just how Hot and Sexy Kurt is when compared to Blaine who quite frankly looks like a million other so called heart-throb males. Kurt/Chris is unique and his androgenous beauty and sexuality drives many of us wild. Chris Colfer is a heart-throb, but he also has immense talent as an actor and performer, yet this season it seems that Kurt/Chris is going to very much take a back seat whilst Glee give more and more screen time and solos to Blaine/Darren Criss. Many Chris Colfer fans refused to go to see the Glee 3D movie in theatres due to the fact that they cut out a lot of Kurt from the film and promoted Blaine and they also cut out the ‘Single Ladies’ performance. They claimed this was due to not wanting to have too high a censorship on the film, yet they were quite happy to include the very sexually charged performance of Brittany and ‘Slave for You’. In fact they promoted this dance on account of Brittany’s boobs in 3D. They are also releasing the DVD again without the ‘Single Ladies performance. All the male actors on Glee have had shirtless photoshoots except for Chris Colfer, yet his fans are constantly clambouring for him to take his shirt off. The character of Kurt will also be losing his virginity to Blaine in an upcoming episode and I’m just wondering how the producers and writers of Glee are going to disguise Chris Colfer’s obvious toned physique to make him look more fragile up against Darren Criss who is quite a bit shorter than Chris Colfer and certainly not as broad. Darren has a very toned body, but with his stature being so small, when put up against Chris, his lack height and broadness are very evident. They already try to make Kurt seem shorter than Blaine, by having him stand on lower steps than Blaine, or having scenes where they are sitting down rather than standing, etc and Quite frankly it would be laughable if it weren’t for the fact that the fans are finding Kurt’s constant victimisation extremely frustrating. Glee and Fox have just got to accept that Kurt/Chris Colfer’s sexuality is just not important when it comes to his hotness/sexiness. Fans of both genders lust after Chris and much as they are trying to supress and subdue and mask Chris Colfer’s sexual attraction, his fans are refusing to be told who they should or shouldn’t find desirable or sexy. There is a term used on the Chris Colfer fans sites and that is ‘Colfersexual’ All his fans are undeniably Colfersexuals and we want the freedom to express our passions and lusts for Chris/Kurt without having to hide it. Chris Colfer fans have great reapect and love for Chris Colfer as he is an amazingly inspiring, brave, humble, honest, funny, kind, intelligent, immensly talented and gentle man, but he is also hot and sexy and it is all these qualities that make us wild for Chris Colfer.

    Chris Colfer is unique in so many ways and Glee and Fox should be taking advantage of his wonderful uniqueness and promote it rather than trying to supress it and go with the safer option of promoting the standard, ten-a-penny heart-throb types like Darren Criss.

    • Monica on October 19, 2011 at 10:46 PM

      I agree that Kurt/Chris Colfer’s sexual appeal tends to be downplayed on Glee, and I also find it annoying that they insist on focusing solely on the feminine aspects of his appearance, as well as always portraying Kurt as the more feminine of the two in his and Blaine’s relationship.
      However, I don’t think it’s fair to insult Darren Criss simply because Glee/Fox makes him out to be more appealing than Chris Colfer. Yes, the show insists on making Blaine the heartthrob. That’s not Darren Criss’s fault. Also, although you might not think he’s unique, there are many, many people, including myself, who would disagree with that.
      I think Chris Colfer and Darren Criss are both incredibly attractive people, not to mention talented, smart, inspiring, etc.
      You don’t have to bring Darren Criss down in order to bring Chris Colfer up.

      • JJ on October 20, 2011 at 12:38 AM

        All this negativity against Darren coming from Chris fans is really starting to annoy me.

        And by the way, people are always overestimating the size of Darren’s pre-Glee fanbase. It was not that big. It also didn’t/doesn’t consist of “screaming teenagers”. And by saying that it does people are apparently trying to make a point that teenagers (usually menaing just teenage girls) and their hormone-crazed opinions are somehow less valid than those of the Kurtsies/Colferites. Yeah, misogyny is always so cute.

      • Judith on October 20, 2011 at 5:02 AM

        Face-palming yet again!!! This wasn’t meant as an insult to Darren Criss. It was meant as an attack on the Glee and Fox promoters. There is no denying that they are constantly pushing the safer option of Blaine/Darren. There was no mention of it being Darren Criss’ fault, so you do not need to be quite so touchy. I know you are obviously a Darren fan and he certainly has appeal, but you seem to just have focused on the comments and comparisons made between the treatment of Darren/Blaine and Chris/Kurt. There was a lot more issues that I mentioned and the article is after all about Chris/Kurt. I have merely stated what is actually happening in the attempt to mask and subdue Chris Colfer’s sexual attraction and Darren Criss definitely fits the accepted heart-throb image which a great many other actors also fit into. Chris Colfer’s appeal is much more unusual and I would say is unique. The reason why Darren/Blaine is mentioned is because the character and the actor are the most closely linked to Chris/Kurt both on the show and in the media, so, of course there are going to be comments comparing them both and how they are treated on the show and in the media. Finding someone attractive/sexy etc is subjective but what this article and my comment are addressing is the fact that the freedom to find Chris Colfer appealing in the same way as other actors like Darren is constantly being suppressed. It is like it is Taboo for straight girls especially to view Chris as an object of sexual desire and appeal, yet there are thousands upon thousands of fans who actually find him 100 times more appealing than the standard actor who fits into the accepted heart-throb mould as Darren Criss does.

        • Robert on October 20, 2011 at 5:59 AM

          I agree. Why is it every time people try to comment on Chris/Kurt’s treatment on Glee and also in the way he is portrayed in the media, the Darren Criss fans immediately try to claim that is is a Chris versus Darren battle again. Comparisons between Darren and Chris have to be made as they are so closely linked and are definitely both treated very differently. It is not a personal attack on Darren, yet his fans try to claim it as such. It almost feels that Darren should only be referred to as ‘he who must not be named’ It’s ridiculous. Chill DC fans. This is not about a popularity contest, this is about Media, corporate and social bias. Darren is assured to get film, tv and broadway roles from now on. He will be cast because he fits the mould, so be happy. He will find it a million times easier than Chris Colfer who will probably always have to battle and battle really hard to overcome the barriers of what is or is not acceptable in the eyes of ‘Hollywood’. Chris Colfer is an immense all-round talent, but his biggest barrier is his sexual orientation. It should not be and that is what needs to be addressed. Chris Colfer’s sexual attraction should not be hidden simply because it makes some people feel uncomfortable.

          On another note, I am actually a straight man, yet I also find Chris Colfer sexually attractive and appealing. This confused me for a while and I still am not sure exactly why I feel this, as I am definitely straight, but I think it has a lot to do with Chris’ androgenaity, if there is such a word.

        • Kate on October 29, 2011 at 11:53 AM

          I think though that more girls/women are going to be attracted to Darren as he is more conventionally attractive. However, Kurt the chracter is more naive than Kurt the performer who is very sexy. They get away with a lot when he is performing that is a little confusing when you try to match up the performance with the character.

  5. Marly on October 19, 2011 at 8:22 PM

    “Colfer and Darren Criss (who plays Kurt’s boyfriend Blaine) were the focus of the tour, which was attended by more than 500,000 fans.”

    I’m not disagreeing with you about the overall contents of this post, but this comment is extrapolation. They were not the “focus” of the tour, the cast of Glee was. I think you’re discounting the appeal of Lea Michele, Cory Monteith and Mark Salling who also had hundreds of thousands of fans screaming their heads off at them.

    • Allison McCracken on October 20, 2011 at 6:33 PM

      Thank you for making this comment, and allowing me to state that I am not in any way belittling the popularity or fans of the other Glee characters/actors. I used the word “focus” here because Kurt and Blaine were structurally privileged in the tour narrative more than the other characters. They were the only characters to have their own skit (the “Klaine” skit) in which their romantic relationship was the focus (Kurt gets on his knees to “propose” to Blaine that he join Glee club), and the actors were given the opportunity to improvise and change their dialogue from place to place depending on the context (allowing them to comment on gay marriage laws in that particular state or country). Chris and Darren actually had more solo (or group-fronting) numbers than the other Glee cast members (with the exception of Lea), and they were continually pointed out by critics’ reviews as being highlights of the tour for both reviewers and audiences. During the tour, the show’s producer Ryan Murphy stated that Lea, Chris and Darren were its “stars.” Notably, the centrality of Kurt and Blaine on the tour is both erased and displaced by the 3D film, which is missing both the “Klaine skit” and “Single Ladies” while giving Lea more solos than she actually sang on tour. It’s clear that Glee is now operating on a couple of levels; the tour played to the “Klaine” fanbase, while the film targeted a broader “family”audience.

  6. Anna on October 19, 2011 at 8:36 PM

    I love this article. I totally agree. As a female fan I think Chris Colfer is hot. he is fascinating and I like to read fanfic with him as a dominant rather than submissive figure.
    would LOVE to hear his reaction to this article LOL.
    Sadly the writers/producers of Glee are promoting the stereotype and in upcoming episodes Blaine is the one of the couple who is pursued by another man. Many, many fans feel it should be Kurt who is lusted after and Blaine should show jealousy and possessiveness instead of the other way around. it has been discussed a lot places like tumblr and it hasn’t even gone to air yet.

  7. Kathy lee on October 19, 2011 at 9:10 PM

    (thanks the writer of this a million billion times) I HATE how everyone in the show seems to assume “Oh Kurt is too effeminate to be sexy”. He IS sexy!!! To ME his being pretty and effeminate is what MAKES him sexy. (and also his ass and legs, yum) And I expected Kurt’s new boyfriend to help him with this after to make up for his horrible comments in ‘SEXY’ but if he ever makes any comments of how attractive he is it’s how ‘adorable’ he is or how much he loves him. Which is fine but I want to hear ONE statement that signifies that he finds him sexually attractive.

    Anyway the only thing that helps me bear with this is that at least there’s others that agree with me on how sexy fine Chris Colfer is. (goes back to stalking him on the internet)

  8. Vesper on October 20, 2011 at 5:49 AM

    To be honest, I am a straight girl and I have no idea why I am so obsessed with Chris Colfer. I read another article that dubbed Kurt the “launcher of a thousand ships” because you will find him in various pairings within fanfictions. I think that’s a testament of not only how eroticized and fetishized his character is, but also because the character transcends traditional boundaries, and not just gender ones. So it was really disappointing for me to watch “I Am Unicorn” because in the fandom he IS the object of desire.

    While I do recognize that Kurt =/= Chris, I think they do play off each other and I would be interested if the Author would write about that interesting dichotomy someday. Also, is there data to back up the claim that Glee lost considerable viewership due to the Kliss? I thought the ratings were fairly consistent.

    • Angie on October 25, 2011 at 11:45 PM

      I am a little bit puzzled that you find your attraction to Chris’ weird, given that you are a straight girl and he is a man, regardless of his sexual orientation.

      • Kate on October 29, 2011 at 11:54 AM

        Possibly because he challenges ideas about sexuality in everyone. I’m a lesbian and I find him attractive.

  9. Jamie on October 20, 2011 at 8:26 AM

    While I don’t agree with everything in this article, it’s spot on in a lot of places, particularly in regards to Kurt.

    The Glee writers are so blind when it comes to the attractiveness of Kurt (and by extension, the actor). They don’t seem to think he’s attractive, and they seem to go out of their way to push that image onto the viewers as well (“toothpick arms,” Kurt referring to himself as a “baby penguin,” Rachel laughing in his face at the thought of kissing him while they are ACTING).

    At this point, I kind of find it offensive, especially that entire I am Unicorn episode that left a sour taste in my mouth with it’s unsatisfactory resolution. Heck, even though Kurt lavishes praise upon Blaine about how talented and good looking he is, pretty much the only compliment he’s ever gotten in return is that he’s “adorable.” And now a new love interest is being brought in for Blaine, someone who is described as the “opposite” of Kurt, someone who I suppose is supposed to be more “manly.” The way Glee continues to isolate Kurt and make him the “other,” even in his own community, is disappointing.

    Wake up, Glee! Fans, men and women alike, find Kurt and Chris Colfer sexually attractive, and you’re not going to stop us from thinking that. I think a lot of people find it threatening that someone who *is* a bit androgynous could be so sexually appealing for people, but that’s their issue.

  10. [...] via Glee: Kurt and the Casting Couch | Antenna. [...]

  11. Beth on October 20, 2011 at 12:27 PM

    I have found the writers to be very demeaning to the character of Kurt. It is has been so disappointing for me. I have always felt that Kurt is the heart of Glee and that he is a fabulous “person”. How they could continue to put him down and not show how him as valuable and sexually attractive is beyond me. I have wanted Kurt to be chased, prized and romanced. He should be shown as being someone that is sought after – not someone to be patted on the head and told that he’s “adorable” like he’s a doll. He’s handsome, talented, sweet and hot! Fanfiction is where I get my Kurt fix, not the show. There are some writers that “get” Kurt and what his fans want for him.

  12. Jaz on October 20, 2011 at 11:24 PM

    “His positioning as an erotic object in the text became decisive when the very attractive Blaine first kissed Kurt in March (a romantic moment between two men that was so intense it lost the program substantial viewers).”

    Can you give some citations for this? I’m just curious.

    • Allison McCracken on October 28, 2011 at 6:15 PM

      The “Original Song” episode of Glee in which the two young men first kissed aired on March 15, 2011 and garnered 11.15 million U.S. viewers, consistent with its season 2 average of over 10 million viewers. The next episode, however, plunged in the ratings, losing the show over a million viewers and dipping below the 10 million viewer mark for the first time in the show’s history (9.8 million). The show never recovered its previously consistent 10 million+ ratings, and remained below 10 million mark (much closer to 8-9 million) for the rest of the season; the season finale was the only second season show post-kiss to receive more than 10 million viewers (11.80). The show’s debut in its third season garnered 9.21 million. These numbers can be found at various websites, including http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glee_%28season_2%29. I give the show’s producers immense credit for taking this risk, and it did cost them.

  13. Jon on October 21, 2011 at 12:37 AM

    I think this article is over analyzing things. I think the writing team made a smart choice because it was the one choice none of us expected. Not only did this choice leave a door open for trouble in the Blaine / Kurt relationship, it also allowed Kurt to do something different and BIGGER by running for Class President.

    I highly doubt that this situation is over. It is simply one brush stroke in a much larger painting. It is something that now, they can come back to again and again. IF they had chosen to give Kurt the part, that kind of ends the drama – and remember drama is all about conflict. Bring up this topic again AFTER Kurt got the part would really feel forced. Now, it feels like a real natural juxtaposition. I think, in the long haul that is good, for the show and for the cause.

    • Dean on October 22, 2011 at 12:41 AM

      I think your comment is concentrating too much on just the I Am Unicorn issue, rather than what the whole article is actually saying. The issue of the West Side Story Casting as shocking to say the least and we all hope that it will be revisited and resolved in a way that is satisfactory, but the main issue of this article is how ‘Kurt’ and Chris Colfer are being perceived by the fans compared to how they are being portrayed by the media and the Glee writers and producers. The article is certainly not over-analysing anything. It is raising an extremely good point and a point that should have been raised a long time ago. Chris Colfer certainly has a great deal of erotic appeal to both genders and also to all sexual orientations and it needs to be recognised and accepted, rather than attempting to subdue, hide or ignore it.

    • Lily on October 25, 2011 at 5:01 PM

      I agree with Jon that Kurt’s storyline is made for drama and conflict. They really put him down first before they lift him up again… one day…. I hope…However..

      At first I did not like Kurt’s storyline in the first 3 episodes of Season 3, until I read about the recent suicide of this Canadian 15 year old gay teenager who was also depressed and blogged a lot about his sad feelings.

      All of a sudden I recognized Kurt’s story in this teenager real life story… The feeling of being a loser all the time, despite all his efforts at school… even in the sexual appeal section… The Canadian teen even wondered why even gay men did not find him attractive.. Sounds familiar ?

      So this may be a reason why Kurt is made “unappealing” in Glee even though in real life, the actor Chris Colfer has a lot of sex-appeal… because it reflects “real life” of other people ?

  14. Allison McCracken on October 28, 2011 at 6:53 PM

    I do want to comment on this because I think Lily brings up and important point. I believe the show’s producers have been very consciously bringing attention to and fighting homophobia with Kurt’s storyline, particularly the bullying storyline from Season 2. My previous writing on the show has underlined how much I believe the show has been groundbreaking in this regard and Glee’s producers deserve enormous credit for the risks they have taken. My concern here, as Dean suggests, is about “I am Unicorn” upholding rather than interrogating gender hierarchies in the larger culture. Instead of presenting Kurt as a victim of a masculinist and homophobic culture intent on preserving dominant gender/sexual norms, it erases the masculine power structure of American culture (and Hollywood) by suggesting that the desires of women and girls are actually directing Hollywood’s choices of male leading men. Contrary to Brittany’s assertion in this episode, however, girls do not run the world. If they did, I am arguing, there would be a lot more feminine men in leading roles, since Kurt fans clearly do view him as an erotic object and their desires are shared by millions of others worldwide. I believe that Glee missed an opportunity to make this point, but I agree with Jon that Glee is often unpredictable and hopefully we can look forward to a more nuanced view of this subject in a later episode.

  15. Kelsi Nielsen, composer « Feminist Music Geek on November 3, 2011 at 4:26 PM

    [...] very much tries to provide the archetypes it pilfers from High School Musical with depth and grit (Kurt Hummel is basically, in some ways, an out Ryan Evans). I also don’t know what to do with [...]

  16. Taylor Cole Miller on November 17, 2011 at 10:38 AM

    Thanks for this piece! I actually wrote a reception studies article on GLEE last summer for FLOW that is in many ways contrary to your findings here. In my survey, I found that while Kurt is largely the fan favorite of the show’s female audience – on the whole, gay men do not like his character. Although my survey is by no means exhaustive, and was a convenience sample at best, I think this is a fascinating phenomenon to continue interrogating, particularly because, judging by commenter’s names, it seems as though most of Kurt’s loyal defenders are in fact women.

    http://flowtv.org/2011/07/performing-glee/