Oh, Glee. Why do you do the things you do? I’m going to be brief on this because it’s been talked about a lot already, but I think there’s something really complicated and frustrating about how Glee‘s school shooting episode, “Shooting Star,” played out. First of all, they did an episode about a school shooting. And they called it “Shooting Star.” Why do you do these things?
Many people, including the parents of Newton, CT, have expressed criticism of the episode, saying it was too soon or in bad taste. Some have criticized the scene where Will Scheuster rescues kids from the bathroom and the image mirrors a photo from Newton. For me, the biggest problem with the episode, aside from that it happened, is that the shooting turns out not to have been a real threat. I thought that the portrayal of the Glee kids in the choir room and how they banded together, rather than ever showing the shooter was a pretty strong way to go about the storyline. It focused on courage and love rather than on giving fame to a shooter. But then, it turns out that the shooting was an accident and the person with the gun was Becky. It seems like making that move only functions to confuse efforts to fight gun violence and makes the school’s response look disproportional. I’ve embedded these scenes below, for reference.
Still, as Sue confesses in order to protect Becky, she makes some pretty sharp criticisms of how issues relative to school shootings are being discussed in real-life. She tells Principal Higgins: “It’s a different world. The safety net of the public mental health system is gone. Parents with troubled kids are too busy working three jobs to look after them, and the gun yahoos have everyone so worked up about Obama taking away their guns that every house is a readily available arsenal.”
Then, she recounts how this one mistake–she says her gun went off during a safety inspection–will wipe away her stellar career: “I sent Cheerios off to the Ivy Leagues. I educated girls who are CEOs of Fortune 500 Companies. They’re mothers, gold medalists. I coached two Grammy winners. An internet billionaire, and a lesbian Secretary of State. But all I’ll be remembered for is this one thing. It’ll be the first line of my obituary.” I think in this line she subtly takes to task sensationalism, while also reminding us that Sue Sylvester empowers her Cheerios, however horrible she is to them.