Home > communication, culture, education, television > #6 – Glee bringing sexy back

#6 – Glee bringing sexy back

Recently, the sensational American hit series Glee featured the topic of sex and homosexuality in their latest episode, much to the dismay of The Parents Television Council (article here). Sexy, aired on March 8 featured the guest appearance of Gwyneth Paltrow (episode trailer here).

Firstly, the Parents Television Council is unhappy with Gwyneth’s character as a teacher, who rips her shirt with her students while dancing to ‘Do You Wanna Touch Me’. Next, the show mocked the celibacy club, defining it as a place only for nerds. Abstinence was deemed as un-cool in this school.

Lastly, they were also disturbed with the discussion of sex tapes. “Most notably was the discussion between a couple of students about wanting to become famous by making a sex tape,” said Isett, referring to Puckerman (Mark Salling) and Lauren Zizes (Ashley Fink) — who decided not to make a tape after Paltrow’s sub teacher, Holly Holliday, informed them it would be child pornography because they’re under 18. “Exactly what kind of message is that?”

Aside from those scenes, I noticed 2 more scenes from the episode that were not deemed as appalling. One of which is when Santana (Naya Rivera) and Brittany (Heather Morris) were figuring out if they had feelings for each other, highlighting the issue of homosexuality (lesbian in this case). Another is when, “Kurt Hummel’s (Chris Colfer) father responsibly explained sex and the ramifications.”

Based on that episode, I observed the presence of cultural imperialism. USA is dominant in the exportation of their mass media products to all over the world. This includes their television series, which has a huge following and fan base worldwide.

Cultural imperialism is the one-way flow of international messages or media products that led to the dispute over cultural dominance. It brings about the messages of imperialism and ideological propaganda. One of the concerns is that it causes real damage through disruption of basic social and cultural institutions.

It seems that the USA is more receptive towards the exploration of homosexuality issues on television along with the ‘sex talk’. I observed cultural imperialism in place, where it is fine to talk about sex and homosexuality openly. Comparing the cultures of the West and East, the East prefers to discuss the issue in discreet. Are we supposed to accept this idea that contradicts with the Asian culture?

Then in this case, is cultural imperialism good or bad? Good in the sense that it is an outreach and opening our minds to touch on the taboo topic in the Asian culture or bad in the sense that we are merely accepting the ideas the West impose on us through the shows?

From my point of view, cultural imperialism need not necessarily be bad. I think the television programmes acts as a powerful tool that can help us learn about foreign culture but due to its ability to shape’s one mind, it can also be a harmful tool that cause us to merely follow what is seen. I do not think that we can resist cultural imperialism. All we can do is to stay open minded yet hold on to the values of our society.

What do you think about cultural imperialism? What are some of the shows in which you observe cultural imperialism?

  1. March 13, 2011 at 1:12 pm

    Wow I have not catch this Glee episode yet though! Nice topic the Glee series touched on! 😀

    For a matter of fact, I feel that cultural imperialism is the reason of censorship of such topics on our country. We are not as open as the western counterpart where they would often touch on the topics of sex, homosexuals etc. But the way our western counterpart portrays such topics through the use of the media sort of educates us more on how they tackle such issues. There are definitely more touchy topics all over the world, I do not think that censoring such sensitive issues could actually help the people involved or well the victims themselves. They might find it difficult to approach anyone with such issues but tv programs might for instance give them a helping hand!

    I am in favor of criminal genre american tv series! There are often gore scenes in Criminal Minds, CSI, Lie To Me – but hey this is the exciting part of these television series yeah! 😀

  2. March 13, 2011 at 2:16 pm

    I love that Gwyneth Paltrow was featured in Glee! I cannot believe that this great actress is Chris Martin’s wife!

    Anyway, I think that cultural imperialism can be good in a way. It exposes people to the different cultures of other countries. This doesn’t only include western values dominating the east. What about the rise of Korean culture spreading to other Asian countries? It’s nice to see that people in Asia can still support entertainment from their own region, and that we’re not blinded by all the American dramas, movies and music everywhere.

  3. wensssy
    March 14, 2011 at 1:20 pm

    omg i’m tempted to watch that episode of glee with the marry you song!!!
    My friend was just singing at the canteen today zomg. see, this shows how influential the series is. Even people in Singapore are discussing about the US series! This shows that the issues discussed in the shows shown could have a far fetching effect. Personally, I always have this feeling that westerners are more open that us easterners, hence they will be more willing to talk about issues that seem a tad too sensitive in conservative societies over at our side. But it’s good that such issues are brought up and discussed.

  4. March 29, 2011 at 1:09 pm

    I think cultural Imperialism can seen as be a double edged sword, as it can be seen as either bad due to political reason and etc or it can actually try to repair ties with another country.
    Let say for example how S.Korea able to reaffirm economic dependency between nations with the import and export of “cultural goods” with China and Japan despite of regional politics.
    K-Drama, for example is one which deal the most impact on getting people into Korean Wave, even American programme like The Amazing Race. Through these show, the country’s media (media which is normally controlled by the govt) tend to introduced their own culture and improve the country’s image.Portraying scenic view, awesome culture experience people desire.

  5. milollita
    April 3, 2011 at 8:09 am

    I stopped watching Glee (don’t shoot me!) but I think that shows like this are made to target the American audience, so it would definitely involve some issues that are brought about in high school. Of course, viewers should not forget that shows like these are exaggerated multi-fold. To a non-American viewer, perhaps it would seem like cultural imperialism but I personally don’t think that way. It’s just that the show is made for American viewers. The discussion of sex and sexuality brings out the curiosity of people and is used as a way to gain more viewers. Some of the content might not be correct but it shows a reflection of what viewers are interested in.

  6. April 3, 2011 at 11:25 am

    oh GLEEEEE. well GEEEE, i dont watch it but i personally believe that along with it are other drama serials that exhibit a considerable lot of cultural imperialism in their plots. take Gossip Girl for example – luxury brands, uppity ways of the Upper East Side, corruption of power amongst the elites, dirty linen of the upper class – all your standard daily American affairs though in heightened reality. I can safely say that most of us are so addicted to GG(tho it is getting boring…) is mainly due to the evident cultural imperialism of America, how the show exemplifies the dream lifestyle of the rich and the famous in NYC.

  7. shazz
    April 3, 2011 at 1:01 pm

    well, I think shows like this tells so much about the culture in America. The Americans are definitely open about such topic like sex and homosexuality unlike us, Singaporeans. We are definitely not open to these topics as it is censored by the media.

  8. April 4, 2011 at 2:19 pm

    I think that Glee is made to mainly target American teenagers.
    Yes, to non-american viewers, then this would be culturalism, but then to american viewers, it’s just another show that portrays the american culture and what is it like in American high-schools. Since American are open to such topics like homosexuality, so then it would not be a problem.

  9. Shawn
    April 10, 2011 at 2:39 am

    MacDonalds’! Starbucks! Apple! Cultural imperialism is a very real phenemenon that is still very much happening today. The whole world is subscribing feverishly to American products. You, along with many others, own an iPhone! Thus, I feel that the effects of cultural imperialism is unavoidable. Switch on your tv and most of the time, you have Grey’s Anatomy, Vampire Diaries, American Idol or even Barney playing!

  10. April 17, 2011 at 5:12 am

    In my opinion, we have a choice to learn from what the foreign media brings in at the expense of our traditional values. Just because you watch 12931938232 dramas with sex on first date as part of the plot, doesn’t mean you should or will internalize it. If you have a mental filter of what is good to learn, then I really don’t see what cultural imperialism is as scary as how the government portrays it to be. I do understand that cultural imperialism can be very threatening to our traditional values and beliefs. But I still stand by the fact that competition from foreign countries should drive us to being more competitive and to churn our better and greater ideas and products. Take for example Apple and creative mp3 players. In all honesty, I do believe that many people would go for quality than the brand itself. If Apple produces lousy quality products, it wouldn’t be able to enjoy the sales they have today. If anything, Apple should not be blamed for having such a huge influence on the locals. If local brands like Creative wants a piece of the profit, create better products. I stand by the belief that if your products are good, you wouldn’t need to worry about the lack of consumers. If your products aren’t selling well, reflect and produce better and more attractive, sustainable products instead of blaming your rivals.

  11. April 17, 2011 at 7:40 am

    Personally I do not look at cultural imperialism as necessarily bad, or sometimes even worth to fuss over, but this is my own perspective. In a world where we live and impact one another, it is difficult to stay away from everyone else and refuse to progress as others have. However, if nations like China and North Korea believes that they want to protect their interests, culture and whatnot from the rest of the world (perhaps America specifically), I am sure they have their own reasons by their own standards to support their stands.


  12. Ayu
    April 17, 2011 at 1:24 pm

    I don’t think cultural imperialism is a bad thing. Based on the show Glee, that features content of homosexuality, I think it act a positive change towards the Asian culture. We are more conservative towards this issue, but with more and more show featuring homosexuality, we can start developing positive attitudes towards them and understand better, and see that they are humans like us too. In this case, I think cultural imperialism can be a positive thing.

  13. Liza
    April 17, 2011 at 2:18 pm

    This episode of glee really makes me interested to watch the show. I am not following the series, but this show has been gaining so much publicity that I feel like I have to watch it!

    That aside, I think cultural imperialism can be both good and bad, depending on how a country manage it. It can be good as we are exposed to the cultures of other country; we don’t necessarily have to follow it. However if people are starting to follow whatever they watch on television, the country’s own culture could be lost.

  14. Cassandra
    April 17, 2011 at 3:18 pm

    I watched this episode, and I was quite okay with the homosexuality theme in Glee. I mean this is not the first time glee explore the issue of homosexuality, so I was not as surprised.

    Regarding cultural imperialism, I think it can be a bad thing rather than good. I agree with you, like it can jeopardize the social and cultural institution of a country, especially among the youths who seems to follow whatever is cool determined by the West.

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