History is Coming Back!

From the article Glee: The Countertenor and the Crooner” pt. 1:

“Attractive young men in collegiate attire, sporting ukuleles or megaphones, singing to each other and to their adoring publics in high-pitched voices was a mainstay of 1920s American popular culture, then vanished during the Depression. Even the easy homoeroticism of a boy positioned between another boy’s legs dates back to popular images of the 1920s. In the early 1930s, a combination of greater media nationalization and censorship, increasing homophobia, and panic regarding the emasculating effects of male unemployment formed the context for the first national public attack on male popular singers as effeminate and as cultural degenerates.”

This passage is more historical, but I think history can be used to explain the present in a lot of ways. It intrigued me because I hadn’t known that the high-pitched male singers were very popular in the 1920’s, and then just as the depression crashed the economy, it also crashed the American culture of the 1920’s. I think it’s amazing how the style has been resurrected again after a lot of struggle. Just to say, it’s a lot more fun to hear Kurt and Blaine working the vocal chords than Mr. Bing Crosby. He’s cool too, but…


The second passage that stuck out to me was from part 3 of the Glee articles. It was the last part of the article that talked a lot about the character Blaine (Darren Criss) and himself outside of Glee.

“Part of the reason Blaine is so beloved is because of the young man who plays him. Darren Criss himself occupies queer cultural space in that he identifies as straight but plays gay, champions the mass culture associated most with women and children (like Disney songs), and is more than happy to be an erotic object for both sexes (see, for example, his spread in Out magazine). Perhaps most unusual of all, Criss writes and performs songs from a female point of view even outside of the Blaine character. Criss composed the song “The Coolest Girl,” for the character of Hermione in a musical adaptation of Harry Potter. In concert, he often performs the song, asking the largely female audience to join in, since “I am not a girl, although I try to be sometimes.”

and at the end… :

“Just as Colfer provides a model for queer kids who have not yet been represented, so Criss provides an equally significant alternative model for queer straightness. Both performers, through Glee and beyond it, give voice to radically fluid adolescent masculinities that do indeed offer their audiences new ways to dream.”

I think this passage goes back to Monday when we discussed how you could identify as being male or female, but perform masculine or feminine. I think he’s a solid representation of what it means to perform gender.


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