Brittana Fans Launch a Counter Attack on Glee

Glee is not a show unfamiliar to fan uproars, outrages and campaigning via social media, and I will probably write a lot about it.  The various divisions of the Glee fandom have a HUGE, LOUD social media presence.  This time, fans are going after the double standards for queer women on the show as displayed in a recent episode of Glee titled, “Swan Song” (Season 04, Episode 09).

The most interesting thing happened when Glee directly and offensively attacked its Brittana fan base with crude stereotype jokes about the angry “Lesbian Blogging Community” in this episode.

The most offensive dialog delivered in the episode went like this, verbatim:

It started with:

Brittany: I can’t.
Sam: Is it my lips?
Brittany: No. Your lips are so soft and horizontal. I just like you too much to put you in danger.
Sam: Santana broke up with you.
Brittany: No, it’s not just Santana. It’s like, all the lesbians of the nation, and I don’t know how they found out about Santana and I dating, but once they did, they started sending me, like, tweets and Facebook messages on Lord Tubbington’s wall. I think it means a lot to them to see two super hot, popular girls in love, and I worry if they find out about you and I dating that they’ll turn on you and get really violent and hurt your beautiful face and mouth.

And finished later with this:

Brittany: You make me happy, Sam. And I don’t want to waste any more time not smiling at your hilariousness.
Sam: What about the lesbian blogger community?
Brittany: They’re not gonna like it, but the way I figure is that, they know they’re my sisters, and love is love.

If you are unsure if this is offensive or not, let’s change the minority group from “lesbian” to “African-American”, or any minority group really, and try again.  This version comes from Heather Hogan’s recap at After Ellen.

I’m worried because of the Black Blogger Community. I think it meant a lot to them, seeing you and Mercedes together, because she’s not the typical stick-thin white girl writers usually pair guys like you with. And I’m worried those angry black people will hurt my perfect face.”

Get it yet?  I hope so.

Here’s what’s interesting.  Thanks to spoilers, the week leading up to, during and after the episode, fans starting calling foul on Glee’s horrendous treatment of their queer female couple, Brittany and Santana (Brittana).  The fan base went to town on the now familiar campaign trail regarding this particular couple.  All of the following content was fandom created and cited as accurately as possible.

Glee’s first mistake is that the Brittana fandom is NOT all lesbian; Brittana has a diverse fan base.

tumblr_mejplaq1p51rpbfcpo1_400

Source: gilnitz.tumblr.com

The reason the “lesbians” or bisexuals or gays or  straight allies or other people with eyeballs and a conscious, have been causing an uproar are the obvious double standards Glee has between hetero and same-sex couples, specifically Brittana.

The proof is in the pudding, or in this case, the charts.  All fan generated.

tumblr_mf03dzGXSa1qmignw

Public vs. Private Conversations
Source: hall-and-totes.tumblr.com

tumblr_mf03dmfUsn1qmignw

Source: hall-and-totes.tumblr.com

tumblr_mezfzqQFdB1qmignw

Source: hall-and-totes.tumblr.com

tumblr_memqgjyZOE1ry8dtbo1_500

Source: glee-equality-project.tumblr.com

Through social media, Brittana fans urged each other to write letters to Fox, comment on their Facebook page, and tweet directly to the network.  Other posts offered suggestions on what to say and how to approach network executives.  Fans also urged each other not to watch the episode live on TV to negatively impact the ratings.

Then there was YouTube.  Again, fans gave the promo video for “Swan Song” a thumbs down and left comments on the video expressing displeasure about the upcoming episode.  The comment section on the YouTube video got so heated, the GleeOnFox official YouTube channel started monitoring, censoring  and deleting comments.

There was trending on Twitter, which was done not only by the Brittana fans, but other segments of the fandom as well.  Normally competing for interest, even other members of the Glee fandom could understand the creators really screwed this one up.  Before, during and after the episode, Brittana trends were all over Twitter.  (Note: “Swan Song” aired 12/06/2012)

Brittana Trends

The storm brewing before “Swan Song” even aired was volatile.  People were livid and they were loading their social media cannons for the moment the episode aired.  I saw some of the most positive people I know on Twitter who always defended the Glee creators crack because of the lesbian comments.  Completely crack.

And so, show runner Ryan Murphy hops on Twitter about 15 minutes before the show is set to air on the East Coast.  This is the power of having the show runner on Twitter – direct line to the boss himself to do damage control and throw some water on the blazing fan fire.  Ryan Murphy’s strategy?  A question and answer on Twitter.  Now, Ryan’s normal responses to Brittana fans usually look something like this:

RyanMurphy - Red Wine

However, before “Swan Song”, Ryan Murphy’s responses looked more like this:

Ryan Murphy - Damage Control

This was obvious and marginally effective damage control by offering hope to hurt and angry Brittana fans.   The Glee creators do not; however, have a good track record for following through on these comments, and fans have been fighting for Brittana since the “Sex isn’t dating comment” all the way back in Season 1.  In any case, Ryan made it sound like Brittana fans could look forward to some fair treatment.  Normally, Ryan either ignores or is outright hostile to Brittana fans.  In case you forgot, here is another example:

Ryan Murphy - Ignore Brittana

I can understand that Ryan Murphy probably gets mountains of negative, hateful and belligerent tweets, which I absolutely denounce.  However, I do not for one minute believe that the Brittana fandom is the only culprit; other shippers are just as upset with the treatment of their ships and the inconsistent writing Glee has become notorious for.  The difference is Brittana fans are victim of some serious double standards.  Thanks to “Swan Song”, Brittana are now the only fan base pettily scolded on air during a show that prides itself on “equality”.

Back to the fans.  I have never seen so many comments, charts, essays and writing fighting for change and fighting to get people to understand what the fans were really upset about.  Here is what Glee got VERY wrong.  They wrongly assumed the Brittana fandom, also wrongly assumed to be all lesbian, were mad that a bisexual character went from kissing a girl to kissing a boy.  In reality, the problem is blatant double standards.  (Please reference the above charts on double standards.)

While the Glee creators obviously have a right to write their show as they see fit, being self-proclaimed as “revolutionary” gives them a responsibility to follow through.  Why?  Because they said their show was about equality, and it isn’t equal.  In order to, in good conscious, continue to receive accolades from LGBTQ advocate organizations, Glee needs to fix the double standards.

It will be interesting to see where this heads, as Glee is only halfway through the season.  The show hasn’t been doing strong with ratings this year, and the episode the week following “Swan Song” dropped in rating about 9%.

For some more great posts on the double standard issue, which I would never be able to say better, check out the following links:

The Glee Double Standard

Glee Equality Project

The “Official” Lesbian Blogging Community

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About VersusTheFans

Amplifying and celebrating the value of popular art, especially TV, in giving a voice to women and the LGBT community, in addition to serving as a media watcher on LGBT reporting.

Posted on December 23, 2012, in All Posts, Fandom, LGBTQ, Representation, Social Media, TV Shows and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

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