How 'Glee' and Lady Gaga are Making Losers Cool
Remember your first day as a freshman in high school? The unbearable weight of what seemed like countless eyes on you like a ton of fleshy bricks (ew)? That helpless feeling almost always accompanied by an urgent rush to the nearest restroom, where you strategically planned your day to avoid uncomfortable social situations and make the best of what seemed then like the rest of your life?
Well, ladies and gents, the days of analyzing the complicated levels of loserdom to see where you fit in is coming to a dwindling and encouraging end. That's thanks to Lady Gaga, Glee and other celebrities using their social clout to re-construct social perceptions of so-called "losers."
Loserdom--and the trappings of being bullied or outcasted--has been brought to the forefront of American media and politics by recent national tragedies such as Columbine, the Virginia Tech shootings and a rash of suicides by teens and college students all around the United States.
Shoving, taunting, verbal threats, wedgies, and (according to Glee) the occasional slushy facial have all been the norm since the Salem witch hunts, but the trending norm nowadays is for these losers to fight back, taking back their lives in a big-big, ginormous way.
Led fearlessly by our Lady Gaga, these freaks, geeks, and little monsters of all ages are using their powers of politics and the purse to combat the practice of outcasting. Thanks to these modern day Captain Americas, we can pretty much go ahead and run a train of excited, screaming people through that visual, mirage-like flashback of high school.
The fun of being different starts with the mildly eccentric Lady Gaga, who has from the very beginning proclaimed herself a voice for those who barely uttered more than a peep throughout high school and for gays who have been fighting fiercely for one of the most treasured rites of passage: the right to marry the person they love.
Gaga in the now infamous McQueen Armadillo shoes in the video for "Bad Romance."
From out-there videos to courageous fashion choices to magically delicious concert productions, Gaga has prepped and set the stage for her little monsters to come join the outrageous fun of karaoke-ing to her music like nobody's business.
Although they may seem like superficial platitudes, Gaga's audiences take her message as an opportunity to set their inner queerdo free, to take a chance at laughing and loving like they have never experienced before. The excitement of her persona and productions are infectious. This is probably why producers of Glee have taken notice and become some of Gaga's most loyal fans.
In a similar fashion, Glee has made it its mission to show us all a different side to the loser lifestyle. The show is a commiserating, televised ballad of pre-collegiate life centered on the highest of highs and the lowest of high school lows. The producers of Glee aimed to bring a more positive light to life at McKinley High, even going so far as to out the school's primetime bully as a fellow closeted "Oscar Wilde reading, Streisand ticket holding, friend of Dorothy."
Conditions have changed so much in the past few episodes at McKinley that Kurt Hummel has decided to make a courageous return to the school's Glee Club despite the prospect of future bullying, leaving his sultry boytoy played by the dashingly handsome Darren Criss behind at Dalton Academy.
For all his intensive and super convincing re-hashing of confessions of a bullied gay teen (the actor lived through similar circumstances), Chris Colfer won the 2010 Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor in a Television Series.
For gays who follow such ceremonious life events, it was a turning point in the history of television awards. In fact, the Jane Lynch, Jim Parsons, Chris Colfer and Glee quadruple wins for the community of rainbow enthusiasts was an enormous sign of the times.
Collectively, Gaga and Glee have created an open space in which geeks and losers of all backgrounds and persuasions can envision a brighter future and a world of inward and outward acceptance. In this differentiated universe, losers are the new winners, pouring out and displaying their creative passions for singing, music, and performance.
Yet most importantly, these people make the best of what they have to offer whether it is a little monster gluing together half-stained popsicle sticks to spell out "LuvUGaga" or a glued together patchwork of teenagers from different social cliques trying to put together a competitive song list for Regional. Dealing with the cards dealt seems to be key in this momentous musical of life.
Other notable celebrities have also made it their mission to recast teenage angst in a different, more back-lit light.
In response to the recent rash of high school and college suicides, Dan Savage, activist and famed columnist, started the It Gets Better Project which has gone on to archive thousands of touching testimonials from people all around the world who have recounted their own hardships and struggles with self-acceptance, social scrutiny, and bullying. Flipping through the massive archive of videos on Itgetsbetter.org reveals to the average bullied teen that a lot of famous and talented people were once so-called losers and were themselves, often victims of social outcasting. Some of these celebrities have also "taken to the streets" in other ways.
The contagious force of social change has brought in contributions from public figures such as Ben Cohen, a star in the English Rugby world and a sex symbol to many, who has begun a speaking tour to combat bullying in memory of his father's tragic death. Singers Pink and Taylor Swift who have both also spoken out strongly against bullying and produced music videos on the topics of empowerment and social outcasting.
Bringing such massive attention to the plight of the loser has made parents, teachers, and school administrators more acutely aware of the serious problems many school-aged children encounter everyday.
Via their mainstream supporters, "losers" can be the ones rewriting our histories as a species and changing the way we look at society's quick judgments and social constructions. They know intimately what it means to suffer and struggle within, to be alone, and are better people for it. These outcasts are our future Gagas and the thespians that make up our Glee; they are the many famous and talented people whose affairs of life are openly aired for our inhalation and betterment on itgetsbetter.org.
Let us just hope those left in the world who still cast themselves in the dark abyss of the "loser" mindset know or will realize deep down inside that a better world awaits them beyond their socio-economic, regional, or familial bounds. It does in time get tremendously better. And the party. . . has only just begun.
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