Published September 21, 2011
According to multiple media reports, the new season of Glee will feature Jane Lynch’s villainous Sue Sylvester running for Congress. Naturally and idiotically, her character will be parodied as a Tea Party member. I say naturally, because Hollywood is liberal. And I say idiotically, because huge swaths of the “Glee” audience identify with the Tea Party politically.
Britain’s The Telegraph reports, “The first episode sees her appear on TV news to endorse a favored policy of the Tea Party movement: the abolition of the National Endowment for the Arts …. Later in the same program, she suffers an indignity that befell Michele Bachmann and Newt Gingrich, two Republican presidential hopefuls: a ‘glitter bomb’ attack.”
Undoubtedly, the politics of homosexuality will also play into the campaign, since the creators of “Glee” shovel those politics into everything from bullying to religion.
Just to ensure that the non-“Glee”-watching public doesn’t miss “Glee’s” political slant, Lynch, hosting the Emmys, referred to the Tea Party as racist.
While the folks in Hollywood celebrate “Glee’s” supposed razor-edged satire, the American people continue to patronize family-friendly fare rather than subversive offensiveness.
Last weekend, parents and their children showed up in droves to watch the re-release of “The Lion King,” in 3D. In fact, the movie blew the doors off the box office to the tune of over $30 million, doubling the earnings of its nearest competitor.
Now, there are those who may ask whether we can learn anything from yet another G-rated family movie doing well. After all, “Glee” is indeed a hit on television.
They’d be wrong. In fact, people watch “Glee” on television for the same reason they watch “The Lion King” in theaters: they are under the misimpression that “Glee” is family friendly. That’s what makes the show so subversive.
Most parents believe that “Glee” is a slightly more mature version of “High School Musical” – they see the colorful costumes and the kids and the peppy covers of old favorites, and they immediately assume it’s safe territory.
Most of “Glee’s” watchers are interested in the characters and the songs, not the politics. That’s precisely what the creators of “Glee” counted on when they made the show.
Don’t believe me? When “Glee: The 3D Concert Movie” removed its characters and toned down its songs, it bombed.
It was one of only two movies during 2011 to open in more than 2,000 theaters and finish outside the top ten in box office.
Overall, it grossed just $16 million worldwide on a production budget of $9 million and an advertising campaign costing at least as much. Why did the movie bomb where the TV show didn’t? Because it didn’t focus on the likeable (and staged) characters or even the songs – it centered on three people who were impacted by “Glee,” including a gay teenager who had been bullied. In short, it was politics.
Now, “Glee” on TV is following the lead of the movie version. That’s a bad business decision. The creators know it, too. That’s why Ryan Murphy, creator of the show – and, not coincidentally, creator of the FX smut factory Nip/Tuck – now denies that Sue Sylvester is designed to mock the Tea Party. In an interview with The Independent, he claimed:
"I would tell you if [Sylvester] was based on someone ... but I don't think she is," he said. "In fact, she establishes her own political party. She runs against both Republicans and Democrats. So to be clear, it's not a Tea Party thing: she hates everyone."
Murphy wants to continue to pretend that he’s being apolitical when in truth, he’s being ardently political. He is urinating on the leg of the American public and telling us that it’s raining.
“Glee’s” considered decision to attack the Tea Party demonstrates once again that Hollywood hates everyone between the coasts. They are willing to cut off their fiscal noses to spite their faces – they are willing to lose us as viewers in order to make their point, which is that everyone who disagrees with them is a rube.
That’s why the executives continue to greenlight bombs like “Glee: The 3D Concert Movie” and produce so few G-rated films that they end up re-releasing old ones to massive success. Politics drives Hollywood as much as the almighty buck.
Ben Shapiro is the author of the bestselling book "Primetime Propaganda: The True Hollywood Story of How the Left Took Over Your TV" (Broadside Books, 2011). Follow him on Twitter @benshapiro.