thedeadparrot (thedeadparrot) wrote,

Giving thanks

I've been meaning to write this post since last week, but I've ended up getting distracted by parents and, um, other stuff.

I ended up with the job offer I really wanted! It was seriously the best Thanksgiving present ever. I think my biggest problem with my last job was that I thought that just having a programming job would be enough for me, but I'm starting to realize that I think I need to really care about what I'm doing and what technologies I'm using and what the eventual impact of my work is going to be. It's really scary, starting over from the beginning, but I am also really excited about it as well. I start next Monday. Ack.

The other stuff that has been distracting me is, uh, Glee. Okay, I have been very vocal about how much I hate Glee, but I find it tolerable as a deliverer of individual moments that I do not hate and also as a fandom where most of the fan writers are better than that of the show itself. As a way to make bland white guy fic tolerable, this is probably not recommended.

Also, I have developed a very unhealthy crush on Darren Criss, which is also apparently a reason to fastforward through all of the deeply gross storylines and just get to the parts where he makes funny faces while lip-synching and dancing. (I find his fondness for overemoting really charming, idk.)

But it isn't all bad. To tie this back to the 'moments that don't suck' thing, I still love both versions of Teenage Dream, and I think I am going to spend the rest of this post metaing about them in depth. Just be warned that your daily dose of cynicism is now over.

So, first off the a capella version. There was much internet ink spilled when it first happened, because it was such a moment of TV magic, and there is a reason why it turned out to be one of Glee's biggest hits. I saw it posted somewhere earlier and fell a little in love with it, even if I didn't watch any of the rest of the show until now.

Part of my love for it is entirely personal. I used to drag all my friends to a capella concerts in college, and I can still pinpoint the exact moment I fell in love with it. I was touring colleges in high school, and at one of them, they had one of the a capella groups on campus perform before a dinner or something like that. This group did this amazing version of 'Toxic' with a male vocalist and all of the ridiculous sound effects intact, which really blew my young mind. I just didn't realize that you could do that with just people's voices. So basically, I am a sucker for energetic, interesting a capella versions of songs. ([personal profile] merisunshine36 can vouch for how much of The Sing-Off we watched together.) What can I say, I love myself some good harmonies.

But on top of that, it's just such a beautifully structured scene. I went back and read some reviews that criticized it for being unrealistic and within the context of the rest of the episode, Blaine is really not much of a character. But I think the beauty of the moment derives precisely from the fact that he's not a character yet. We're seeing him through Kurt's eyes, as this cute guy who seems to be singing and dancing just for him, and the show drags us into that heady moment of falling into that crush along with him. Blaine is a fantasy figure who gets more ridiculous as the episode goes along, but at this moment, it doesn't matter at all.

It's one of those moments where everything in Glee syncs up perfectly. The song is a ridiculous pop song, but it's a ridiculous pop song about the overwhelmingness of teenage love. The novelty almost explicit queerness of having an all-male group singing a Katy Perry song about their skin-tight jeans. The a capella makes gives the cover a freshness and an innocence that contrasts with the heavily produced original. While on one level, we know that Blaine is performing for the whole room filled with dudes, the way the camera cuts between Kurt's reactions and closeups of Blaine's face, it feels intimate and personal and we can feel why Kurt thinks this song is just for him. The way the action is choreographed so that Kurt is the only one standing still in this room full of moving bodies, which highlights his outsider status and makes this a moment of stillness for him. Chris Colfer's reactions and the slow way they go from confused to delighted in this incredibly heartbreaking way. The joyous energy that Darren Criss brings to his performance (yes, including his ridiculous faces).

Man, I just love it all. It reminds me of the way they used Don't Stop Believing at the end of the pilot, which is one thing that convinced me to come back for more episodes, even though there was really no reason for me to believe that it would get better.

I don't know if I entirely like/care about the way the Blaine/Kurt relationship progresses over the course of the next few seasons. Blaine is a character that is all over the place, and Darren Criss, much as I love him, doesn't have the acting chops to pull all the disparate pieces together. I do like a bunch of the fanwanks that fandom has done to make him into a coherent person, but all that just means to me is that the show has no idea who he is or why he should be around besides the fact that Darren Criss sells songs on iTunes and because it's nice to have someone that Kurt can have romantic drama with.

Anyway, that brings me to the acoustic version/reprise of Teenage Dream this season. It's very much an inversion of the first version, subdued when the first one is energetic, mournful while the first is joyous. I love that it's just one voice, untouched by autotune, and one piano and this one song. The contrast between the two versions works beautifully in its favor. While the first one is more about Blaine as an idea, this one is about Blaine as a real human being (or as close as you can get on this show) who actually fucks up and who can kind of suck

I saw some comments that it was really uncomfortable to watch, and I think that's because it's so nakedly emotional in a show that is almost entirely about jokey, artificial, over-the-top emotions. Darren Criss can't seem to do anything but project emotions to the back seats, and with the camera pressed so close into his face when his voice breaks, it's just this awful, horrible, uncomfortable moment that really works for me. Chris Colfer doesn't play as central a role here as he did in the other one, but the way he goes from happy-smiley to really worried and concerned is really lovely. This time, the song really is for him, and not in a good way.

The emotional revelations that underpin this scene mean a whole lot less to me, mostly because I don't particularly buy the whole cheating storyline, and also, because I think it would be cool for them to break up and learn to be friends with each other and so Blaine could go off and do other things besides be angsty over Kurt and Kurt could go rock on in NYC without Blaine's storylines being dead weight. That would be cool.

Oh god, I can't believe I wrote this much about Glee.

I still need to do a lot of work on my Yuletide fic. *facepalm*

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Tags: life stuff, television
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