once again transvestites get the boot

Rocky Horror = Glee Fail

In l978, when I was about seven years old, my older sister took me to The Rocky Horror Picture Show. She was supposed to be babysitting me at home, but decided to sneak out with her friends to see Rocky Horror at The Village Gate Theater in Greenwich Village, without permission.

I had no idea what I was going to see. I heard Rocky Horror and I was worried it would be a scary film. What did I know? I was seven. I don’t even know if kids were allowed inside that night. But we slipped in with the crowd anyway and no one said a word.

I honestly didn’t remember much about the film itself, because the audience keep me more than entertained. At that time, people dressed in character to see Rocky Horror, and they took it very seriously. And when the film started and everyone in the audience spoke along with the actors in the film, I was mesmerized. They sang the songs, they threw water, they lit candles and cigarette lighters during certain scenes. By the time we left, I was soaked and covered with popcorn.

Of course when my mother found out my sister had taken me there, my sister was seriously grounded. I didn’t understand why, though. To this day, I don’t remember anything obscene about the film. Different, yes. But not obscene. And I don’t think it affected me much one way or the other, except for the fact that it was the first time I saw a transvestite in a movie. And, I haven’t seen many transvestites in movies since then.

So when I heard Glee was doing a Rocky Horror show, I couldn’t wait to see it. As usual, the performances were great. I’m never disappointed in how Glee puts it all together. But I was disappointed when no one wanted to play the part of the transvestite. I would have thought the part, though a bit cliche for him, would have been perfect for Curt. And being that his character is so open and political about standing up for what he believes in, I would have thought he’d jump at a chance to play one of the most famous transvestites in the history of film. But he declined, with what I thought was a lame excuse. And then everyone else declined, including John Stamos, which didn’t surprise me at all. He’s too macho; he’s too cool (smile). Only he’s not too cool to wear a transvestite costume in the privacy of his own bedroom. What was that all about?

Ultimately, when the girl (can’t remember her name) asked to play the part of the transvestite, I felt like switching to another channel. I know they handled it well, and played upon our emotions by giving her the part because she’d always wanted to play a lead role. But it was more than disappointing, especially for a show that always seems to be on top of their game when it comes to the LGBT community. But this time I felt manipulated, as if they were trying to pull something over on me. Once again, I felt as if the T in LGBT had been pushed aside. And as a gay man who has never even worn drag for Halloween because I’m so conservative, I think that says something about how the T folks probably felt last night. Let’s face it, any of those talented guys could have played the transvestite. Patrick Swayze did it once, and very well, too. But the Glee guys opted out with some very lame excuses. And even if the kids felt awkward about doing this, the teacher should have stepped up and taken the part himself.

The way they handled whether or not it was even appropriate for high school kids to do Rocky Horror seemed to be valid at first. It was real. But maybe a little too real? Schools in TV shows like Glee are nothing like real schools as far as teachers and administration are concerned. And what people love most is that shows like Glee are so unrealistic and exaggerated. But all that going back and forth about morals and ethics, and then the blond kid says he’s worried about his “nuttage” showing, seemed just as lame as Curt’s excuse for not wanting to be a transvestite.

The hard part, for me, was that the performances were excellent and yet the storyline was so weak. I’m not sure if that was really John Stamos singing, but even he came off looking good, which says a lot. And if they hadn’t been so cowardly with the transvestite part, I wouldn’t even be writing this post and titling it “Gleefail.”

Evidently, I wasn’t the only one who thought this was Gleefail. In this post, someone even goes so far as to say: “But Glee would have trouble addressing this issue (transvestites) without it taking over the show and making it no longer “family fun” or whatever, so it mostly just decides to toss in some jokes about transsexuals and call it a day. It’s more offensive than if the show had simply ignored the whole thing to begin with.”