Fox’s “Glee,” the stereotyping of fat black women, and making friends with the loser kid in the wheelchair
I’m getting sick of the-popular-kids-are-better-at-geek-stuff-than-the-geeks trope, which stinks of noblesse oblige. And there are a zillion other things wrong here. But I’ll still be giving this show a try, because I’m that much of a sucker for anything resembling a musical.
But about that preview: Note the unwritten rule in TV that it’s okay to cast a fat actress if she’s black (and especially if she’s black and sings). On the one hand, of course it’s great that some talented fat black actresses are getting work. On the other hand, these actresses are often typecast as sassy, strong-willed types.
I’d rather see fat black women cast in the wide variety of roles white thin men are cast in — when, for example, will we see a fat black female captain of a starship, playing gravitas instead of sass?
ETA: And also, what’s with the kid in the wheelchair? Is it even a speaking role? If it is, you’d never know it from this preview.
It seems to me I’ve seen this a few times — the character of the high school loser in a wheelchair, whose primary narrative purpose — other than being an icon of loserness — is to establish the evilness of the people who reject the kid in the wheelchair, and/or to establish the openminded goodness of the thin, good-looking protagonists who befriend wheelchair loser. (Examples: Heathers, Adams Family Values, Wicked.)1
Diversity consists of real parts, not just tokenism. Given how very rare characters in wheelchairs are, it’s a shame that a high proportion are done badly.
And why are the thin, able bodied, pretty, white people always the leads? It’s like, it’s okay to have a bit of diversity in a friend group, so long as we remember who’s really important.
(Via Roz Kaveney — congrats on the agent, Roz! — and a hip tip-with-a-quip ripped from the lip of Kip.)
1. At least the part in Wicked is a speaking, and singing, part, and there’s a bit more to the character. But I want to vomit every time I hear the able-bodied guy blow the wheelchair girl’s mind by suggesting that she can dance — it’s played as if she’s spent her entire life waiting for some able-bodied guy to legitimize her by finding her attractive. As if no one in a wheelchair ever knew that she could dance before the ablebodied came along to let them know.
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