Hi Heather, I have seen a lot of people tweeting you or saying they are asking you on tumblr to please weigh in on Heather Morris's comments of yesterday and today. I know it would mean a lot to a lot of us if you or Dorothy Snarker (or both of you) could please tell us your thoughts on them. I also saw someone ask you on Twitter if you think Brittana shippers are treated worse than other shippers. I would like to hear your thoughts on that too if you have time. Thank you.
When Alan Rickman was doing his final run as Severus Snape in Deathly Hallows, a reporter asked why he thought the Harry Potter books resonated across nations and generations, and his simple answer was: “It is an ancient need to be told stories.”
He was right, of course. Stories are, at the very least, wooly mammoth old. They were around before movies, before TV, before books, before written words. Religions are built on them. Empires are built on them. Civilization was built on them. Human beings are comforted by stories, inspired by stories, moved to action by stories. We are hardwired with a need to stretch our own lives across other people’s narratives. It’s how we make sense of the world.
These days, we are saturated in stories, and ways to tell stories, like never before. (My local cinema offered four ways to watch The Hobbit.) Yet despite modern parables aplenty, LGBT folks are still wildly underrepresented in the wide world of fiction, so when we glimpse ourselves on the screen or on the page, our primitive reaction is to cling to what we’re being shown — because we need it.
The first fictional lesbian couple I ever fell in love with was Bette and Tina from The L Word, right after the show started, probably because they had lady sex all the time and I had just realized I also wanted to have lady sex all the time and so I spent 28 hours a day hanging out in the TWoP TLW forums, writing these overwrought, barely comprehensible essays comparing Bette and Tina to whatever Shakespearean tragedy. My friends mocked me incessantly, but I’d been wrapped up in the Baptist church for my whole entire life and there was no such thing as lesbianism in The Veggie Tales. For so long, my gayness was hidden from me and then I hid it from everyone else. So, to see it unabashedly, nakedly on TV like that, it made my brain and heart do things I didn’t even know my brain and heart could do.
Brittany and Santana were that for a lot of people. They crashed into lesbian viewers’ hearts in 2009, in the wake of a whole lot of LGBT political setbacks (Prop. 8, for starters) and in the early days of a deluge of highly publicized gay teen suicides. Before Dan Savage launched the It Gets Better project, Brittany and Santana made It Better.
And that’s the place where Heather Morris’ comments landed. By saying that Brittany and Santana were just friends and that Santana never really accepted Brittany for who she is, Morris — inadvertently, I believe — devalued a story that met an ancient need for countless queer teenagers. (Her comments also played into those lingering stereotypes that women only sleep with women while they’re waiting for the right man to come along, and that bisexuality is just a hoax.) I don’t think her comments were malevolent; I think they were, at best, accidentally obtuse and, at worst, insensitive.
I mean, yes, it would be wonderful if all the actresses who play gay fully grasped what their characters mean to LGBT people, but that’s not their job. What folks like Shay Mitchell and Lindsey Shaw and Jessica Capshaw and Ali Liebert give to us is a gift, not a requirement. And, also, the way Glee’s writers retcon every characters’ story every week with no respect for the audience or the actors or themselves, it’s not surprising that Morris doesn’t really know what Brittany felt or didn’t feel (or did or didn’t do) during any episode besides the one she’s currently filming.
But I’ll tell you who doesn’t get a pass from me, and that’s Ryan Murphy. “Disingenuous” is the nicest way I can describe a writer — a gay writer, at that — who creates beloved queer characters and then expresses surprise and annoyance that queer viewers are so attached to them. Add that to his sarcastic antagonism of lesbian fans on Twitter and the refusal to at least acknowledge the misogyny of Santana’s coming out and the word I actually prefer to describe him is “cruel.”
OK, and this is the hard part to write and it’s going to be the hardest part for you to hear, but I truly do not believe that Glee is going to get any better with regards to its treatment of lesbian fans. You can wish it and hope it and pray it and beg for it on Twitter and sign a thousand petitions and tweet Fox and Murphy and Falchuk a hundred billion essays and 140-character quips. And I think the only thing you’ll get for your effort is more of that fourth wall-breaking malarkey about the lesbian blogger community.
It’s like, you know how you can be in a relationship with a girl who kind of treats you badly, but you have so much history with her and when it’s good, it’s good, and it actually probably could be great again if she’d just act how you know she can act? But then she breaks up with you for whatever reason, and you know you should move on, because maybe she was good for you for a time, but she’s definitely not good for you anymore, but the history? So, you go a little crazy like everyone does during a breakup. You cry, you smash things, you yell, you plead, you act generally hysterical while also hating yourself because you know you deserve better and she should be the one begging you to come back. And, like, meanwhile, your ex is over there going, “Get a load of this cuckoo bird; did I dodge a bullet, or what?” Even though she’s the asshole and you’re the catch.
Well, here’s the deal: Glee is pointing at you right now and calling you a cuckoo bird.
So you can keep begging it to come back to you, to change, to be the show you know it can be, the show it was, or you can acknowledge that even though it hurts, you’re better off loving something else. Watch it for the music, if you want. Watch it for the laughs. Watch it because Naya Rivera is hot as hell. But don’t watch it to have your ancient needs met.
Write your own Brittana stories, meet your own ancient needs. Fandom has always done Brittana better anyway. You knew the truth of them before the writers did, and you’ll know the truth of them long after Fox pulls the plug. One billion bizarro interview comments will never change that.