Racy Thoughts: Glee's Magical Friendship
Regular readers of Bitch know by now that Glee, while addictive and entertaining (if you try and tell me you didn't make a heroic attempt at recreating the choreography from "Safety Dance" alone in your room, I'm going to straight up call you a liar), is imperfect. This week's episode, which tackled religious belief (or the lack thereof), was no different.
I've been having a difficult time trying to figure out how I should interpret the show's ending: Mercedes, who is Christian, is concerned that her best friend Kurt, a staunch atheist, is having a particularly difficult time dealing with his father's coma without having a belief in something greater than himself—even if that something isn't necessarily God. And that sounds fine, right? It sounds like something one good friend would do for another: hope that he or she is equipped to handle a difficult situation with as much support and perspective as possible.
What complicates this situation for me, though, is the fact that I'm a little tired of women of color, on Glee and elsewhere, acting as a means to an end where a white character's well-being and ultimate salvation are concerned. The "magical negro" archetype—a term coined by Spike Lee—and, increasingly, the "religious Latino" (see Devil as a recent and particularly over-the-top example), and the "the mystical Asian" are tired, frustrating, and seem more than anything like the handiwork of a lazy screenwriter. We've got Whoopi Goldberg as Oda Mae Brown in Ghost, Gloria Dump in Because of Winn Dixie, Every Black Female Character in The Secret Life of Bees, and Louise (Jennifer Hudson's character) in the Sex and the City movie. That's not to mention every East Asian character that's sold an "ancient Chinese secret" to a white hero/ine or South Asian characters teaching wayward white folks how to eat, pray and/or love.
But maybe, sometimes, a gospel choir is just a gospel choir. Maybe I'm just projecting my own frustrations onto Mercedes' and Kurt's interaction. Sure, it was trite and not exactly groundbreaking plot development (plus, it kind of made me miss Sister Act), but it was also a genuinely sweet, touching moment that demonstrated the deep bond between two friends.
So I'm interested in knowing what you all think. Was this aspect of the episode also frustrating to you? Can a character of color act in a stereotypical manner without being a stereotype? And, damn, when will Mercedes get her own damn story arc? Quinn handing her a protein bar to magically cure her disordered eating was just a tease, as far as I'm concerned.
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