Did “Glee” Lead to Glum?

I had a long conversation once with one of the most important behind-the-scenes leaders of the long drive to legalize gay marriage—one of the most shrewd and sophisticated (and therefore realistic) leftists I’ve ever met. He was candid and direct in dismissing the efforts of the Human Rights Campaign Fund—actually he held HRCF in contempt—and other high-profile and self-congratulatory activist groups. He said the two most important things that made gay marriage legalization possible were TV shows: “Will & Grace,” and “Modern Family.” I suspect a close look at survey data of changing public attitudes on the issue might well be matched up with the ratings of these two pop culture hits.

It is a reminder, once again, of the supreme importance of popular culture, and Andrew Breitbart’s maxim that “politics is downstream from culture.”

Which brings me a story from Human Events from a few months back that argues that the TV show “Glee” was arguably the accelerant for the pandemic of wokeness that has overtaken the nation over the last decade. I never watched the show, and assumed it was merely an attempt to transfer the popularity of the plain-vanilla cheerfulness of High School Musical to the small screen. But apparently not.

As the author of the piece Bill Hurrell (whom I’ve never heard of, but he seems interesting) argues:

Glee was propagandizing wokeness before anyone knew what wokeness was. I don’t think this was conscious. . . If I had to guess what caused these developments, I would assume that the show attracted an audience that was both far larger and far younger than its creators initially expected, and the company making it realized they could monetize it as a promotional vehicle for pop music and liberal social messaging far more easily than as a teen black comedy with singing thrown in. The intersectional nature of the cast was almost certainly nothing more than a cynical play to make sure every potential consumer who watched the show would have their own Glee character to relate to. . .

[U]nfortunately, its attempt to give everyone watching someone to relate to made Glee the unintended plague ship carrying the ideology that is now seeking to remake all of American society in the image of high school so as to forever live out its fans’ adolescent fantasies of belonging. And that is why wokeness was created. For the sake of fictional characters who became totems to an entire generation’s self-regard. . .

I’m not necessarily persuaded, but this very long and unusual article (you’ll see what I mean if you click through the link above, but it requires patience to get through—Hurrell himself admits halfway through that he “buried the lede”) certainly shines a light into a dark corner of our cultural dynamics today that is not to be dismissed simply out of hand. “Glee” did do big ratings, as I recall, especially with younger viewers.

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