Advertisements

Glee: Why is Kurt Hummel dressed like a flying monkey?

26 May

While Glee often causes me to ask somewhat bizarre questions, I never really anticipated that one of them would be Why is Kurt Hummel dressed like a flying monkey? And yet, this is the first thing I thought when filming stills started to leak weeks ago from the season finale finally broadcast this past Tuesday night. Even more surprising to me than the question, however, is that the question actually has an answer.

While that answer is obviously embedded in Kurt and Rachel’s performance of “For Good” when they break into Wicked‘s theater; there’s a lot more going on with Kurt, the Wizard of Oz (and Judy Garland) and its place in gay culture, and magicianship than I noticed, or would have expected, at first glance. It’s why I keep writing about this show, even when the other questions it evokes are often inane things like “Wait, Quinn swore vengeance and executed that vengeance by… getting her hair cut?” Alas, I don’t have an answer for that one.

When Kurt and Rachel get to the Wicked theater, break in, and are not chased off by a security guard (who gives them fifteen minutes on the stage to confront their dreams), Kurt tells Rachel that the only way for her to solve her dilemma (a career vs. love conundrum that is both annoyingly conservative and relatively common) is to sing. As they stand in front of the Kansas set background and Rachel protests the lack of orchestra, Kurt tells her to imagine one, and then, with a wave of his hand, not only is there an orchestra, but the set has switched to the black and green of Oz, at which point Rachel launches into the song with the lyrics, “I’m limited,” which go on to say that Kurt (who is cast here in the Glinda role), can do all the things she can’t.

Which leads us to wonder, what are those things? After all, Rachel gets far more solos than Kurt. His voice may be beautiful, but no one knows what to do with him half the time, and as much as the glee club is happy to have him back, his song choices, performative styling and apparent gender variance are still a sticking point, albeit one that’s fonder than it’s been in the past.

The thing is, Kurt does have a skill, a magic, that Rachel doesn’t have. And it is an imagination that wills things in the world. It’s no accident that Kurt’s imagination transforming the stage comes a week after “Funeral,” an episode in which he leads the glee club in “Pure Imagination.” Nor is it an accident that this performance also follows closely on the heels of his return to McKinley with “As If We Never Said Goodbye,” re-purposed from its original meaning into another moment where Kurt makes what is unreal (sets, stage craft, performance) real.

Kurt, of course, has always been doing this, but until his adventures at Dalton (which is explicitly faerieland in Glee — even moreso than McKinley. At Dalton there are no classes, no teachers, no sense of home or context or place. One of the first things Kurt asks once he meets with Blaine and the Warblers council there is “is everyone here gay?” And let’s not forget, once having consumed food (okay, coffee) in faerieland he winds up staying so much longer than previously anticipated), Kurt’s imagination has been a site of toxicity for him. This toxicity, and failure, was highlighted particularly strongly in his pursuit of Finn, a situation in which Kurt tried to use the force of his imagination to will his desire into the world — and fails with significant consequences for multiple people. He later tries the same thing with similar results, to a lesser extent, with Sam.

Dalton changes all that. Not because it is a safe environment, but because it is part of the ordeal. There is initiation (“Teenage Dream”), apprenticeship (his failed audition with “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina” where his giftedness is a flaw because it is untrained and unapproved; this is then followed by his misery during “Soul Sister” where he must accept a place of smallness that’s alien to him and feels cruel even in its necessity), acceptance of powerlessness (present not just in the events that drive Kurt to Dalton, but include that whole mess with Jeremiah and Blaine), evolution of perception through events related to altered states and sexuality (Rachel’s car crash of a party and the events of “Sexy”), and, ultimately a reclaiming of power (challenging Blaine about all his solos) before being elevated to various statuses long sought through group (the Warblers granting him the duet with Blaine) and personal acclaim (Blaine’s “You move me.”).

That Kurt is finally able to make himself seen, not just professionally, but personally, because of a performance regarding a dead bird (yes, it’s ludicrous and actively ignores the original context of the Beatles song “Blackbird,” but that’s nothing new for Glee) in which he is dressed in black and wearing an animal skull brooch (Kurt, in fact, has a collection of brooches in the theme of “dead animals,” even if most of them are little plastic replicas of the mounted heads of much larger beasts), clearly portrays Kurt as a magus, newly arrived and stating his desire to be recognized.

Death is transformation and alchemy, and as Kurt chooses to take control of his situation by moderating everyone else’s interaction with that death by being chief mourner and mortician for Pavoratti (okay, I know, I know… dead bird, just stay with me folks), Kurt is finally able to will what he’s been wanting for a while (a boyfriend, Blaine, and center stage) into being. It’s also the start of the path that gets him back to McKinley (because he makes people desire his presence — Santana may be self-serving, but she’s also serving Kurt and his gifts), New Directions and eventually New York. All of these are, as mentioned above, locations and situations in which we see repeated demonstrations of Kurt’s power to make what he imagines real, and, thanks to Rachel, in the season two finale we see that power recognized externally on an overt basis for the first time.

Which gets us back to Why is Kurt Hummel dressed like a flying monkey? (a phrase, which, I’ll admit, is just really fun to say over and over again). In the land of Oz, the flying monkeys were free creatures who did as they pleased until they were enslaved. In pop-culture (and political cartoons), they often appear as minions and irritants, powerful only in their ability to serve and to be disruptive — that is, they cause decay to what already exists, but do not transform or create newness, at least not in their abused state.

So, Kurt arrives in New York in that guise (Kurt’s clothes, while always outrageous, are rarely actively ugly, at least to my eye, but the furred epaulets on that jacket from Lip Service are truly ridiculous and both it, and the hat, are sort of out of the range of Kurt’s more typical fashion vocabulary, even if he wears a lot of stuff from Lip Service); sheds it when he gives Rachel her magic moment (in which she points out that he’s actually the magic — she sings to him, and he sings out to the audience); and then returns to Lima, Ohio, to declare victory, dressed in Oz’s colors — silver and green — having been liberated and having brought the magic home. This possession of magic is here confirmed to us both with Blaine’s “I love you” and with Kurt then declaring that, all in all, he really has had a pretty good year.

Giving Kurt a “hero’s journey” on Glee was always going to be a daring choice, because he’s a gay kid and because he performs gay in the particular way he does. But to take a gay kid who the world too easily wants to read as weak and make him a magician — that is, someone with the power to change others and bend reality to his will — is a truly risky and starling choice. It makes Kurt powerful, threatening, and seductive. It normalizes his gender presentation through function (because in a dichotomous system magicianship requires a union of the genders and an ability to step outside that union); and it confronts, side-steps and perhaps even embodies Glee‘s awkward preoccupation with the “predatory gay” stereotype, with a sort of enviable power.

Kurt, like most of Glee‘s main characters, has another year in Lima, but his season two arc shows us that he’s already gotten out.

Advertisements

35 Responses to “Glee: Why is Kurt Hummel dressed like a flying monkey?”

  1. Lorrie Kim May 26, 2011 at 11:26 am #

    Wow. This is an exceptional production from you. I love this show but never paid the slightest attention to the pattern of meaning behind anyone’s clothing. He has a collection of dead animal brooches? I would never have caught that and I am highly entertained and delighted by this. Yeah, queer clothing codes and New York and Broadway: I’m happy to have you be my tour guide. 🙂

    • RM May 26, 2011 at 11:28 am #

      Thank you!

      There’s at least one brooch that seems to be a dead animal skull and two others that are miniature mounted animal heads (like hunting trophies); one’s a hippo. He wears the hippo a lot.

  2. Anton May 26, 2011 at 11:38 am #

    Damn but that is fascinating.

  3. deconstructingglee May 26, 2011 at 12:05 pm #

    I’m going to read this at least 2 more times.

    One thing I’ve noticed is that Kurt, himself, frames life choice as narrative. Not the writing, but the character himself. He constructs stories with the things that are happening to/around him — like Blaine telling him about the Sadie Hawkins incident and Kurt immediately framing it, “This is perfect”. Even his announcement in BTW “Kurt Hummel is back at McKinley” is him telling his own story — not just telling, really, but inventing it.

    It’s actually why I really loved a funny little fic recently that had Kurt plotting to lose his virginity. It’s like he was staging a show and manipulating those around him into making it all happen the way he wanted it to. I was like, that’s SO how Kurt would do it.

  4. sqwook May 26, 2011 at 12:49 pm #

    Eeee. Very interesting interpretation! You saw so much more than even I did.

    I admit I was surprised that Kurt was singing Glinda’s part and not Elphaba’s, because in the Wicked story, Kurt is Elphaba much more strongly than Rachel is, despite that “I’m limited” line: being outspoken, who you are, unable to hide, holding the real magic, and finding a way to get out. Even in just the context of that scene, he is the one making it all happen.

    (Okay, after thinking about it more, I can see it both ways; I just spend so much of Wicked being annoyed at Glinda’s superficialness that it’s hard for me to emotionally believe her turnaround at the end. But there is a fondness for clothes & make-overs, and an early self-centeredness, that I can see in Kurt’s storyline. Hm. Interesting.)

    Kurt coming into his own power is such a compelling story. Many people are preoccupied with debating whether the ‘I love yous’ were sincere or not, whereas I almost feel like, you know what? Kurt will come out on top, with or without Blaine.

    @deconstructingglee re: narrative: I’m seeing conscious narrative everywhere lately. I have a list of reminders-to-myself, and one of the big ones is, “I can change the stories of who I am and who I am not. I’m the one writing them.” Almost everyone I admire, and every fictional character I admire, is writing their own story. Yet so many people go through life on default, numbed to the world. Kurt definitely has that tendency to orchestrate.

    • RM May 26, 2011 at 1:45 pm #

      I am so annoyed with the discussion about the sincerity of the ILUs that I’m trying to keep it off my radar. Blaine blurted, as Blaine does. And Kurt was startled, as Kurt is, and completely unsure of how to do the moment, which was not as he pictured it. But he’s clearly overjoyed, and feels a bit silly saying “ILU too” because a) it’s obvious and b) it’s not dramatic enough! I thought it was a lovely exchange in its maturity that also served to remind us how young these boys are.

  5. Shanna Yarbrough May 26, 2011 at 2:00 pm #

    Wow. Fantastic reading of this last episode and Kurt in general.

    I have to say I’ve been under the sway of KH since the moment I saw him sign his name on the audition list in the pilot, and continue to be pleasantly and willingly enthralled.

    Beautiful analysis.

  6. Em May 26, 2011 at 5:13 pm #

    Ha! I’ve been pointing out his costume choice and claiming it tied in to the Wicked song to FB friends who are Gleeks and they all claimed I was crazy. I feel totally vindicated by your post 😉

    I love the examination of Kurt’s storyline as a hero’s journey though. Perfection!

  7. alumiere May 26, 2011 at 6:33 pm #

    Thank you. I did not catch all the details that you point out here, but I’ve been in love with Kurt since someone made me watch an episode in S1. His storyline is the main reason I watch, and I love that he’s not only the single openly gay student at McKinley, but that he’s also one of the most daring (and freaktastic) dressers; his persona feels a lot like mine in HS.

  8. sillygleek May 27, 2011 at 2:08 am #

    This is such a wonderful analysis of Kurt’s journey throughout the season. And to think that I initially clicked on the link because it asked a variant of the very question I asked myself when I first saw that jacket/hat combo. And to be honest, even with your BRILLIANT explanation of it tying it so beautifully into the Wicked/Oz universe which in turn ties to beautifully into Kurt’s journey… is still can’t help but shake my head at those freakin’ epaulettes!

    At any rate, I think that everyone needs to read this, especially if they are a Kurt fan.

    I’ve noticed a fair bit of chatter about the fact that Kurt should have sung the Elphaba part, so I am thrilled to find someone else pointing out that it’s not about Wicked per se or asking the question about which role in its totality would be better suited to Kurt. It’s about the fact that in that moment, he’s the one who is able to stretch himself beyond where they’re standing and Rachel really is the one who’s limited, not Kurt. I also absolutely am beside myself at your pointing out that while Rachel spends virtually the entirety of the song singing to Kurt, he spends it looking out beyond.

    Gah. Too many thoughts. Too many feelings. Suffice it to say, this was such a treat for me… an amazing coda to a season that was really an amazing journey for Kurt. One that I’ll admit I was probably attached to in a way only slightly bordering on the obsessive. So thank you! 🙂

  9. verasteine May 27, 2011 at 5:39 am #

    I’ve known for a while, since I started watching full episodes of this show, that there was more to it than meets the eye, and that the things that take me by surprise are often steeped in layers, but boy, you manage to extract some layers here. My cultural knowledge isn’t large enough to follow all of this, but wow, yeah. Awesome way to put it, and it makes sense, what you’re saying, so I’m totally nodding along as I read.

    (Also, saw your brief summary of the ILU moment in a comment above; I think you just explained exactly what bothered me about it, and I thank you for that, because I knew something was odd about it, but also that it was insincerity that was driving the moment.)

  10. Cal May 27, 2011 at 9:39 am #

    There are…not words for how much I love this post. I haven’t seen anything past ‘Rumours’ yet (blast Network Ten and its warped sense of priorities!), but I’ve been batting ideas somewhat like this back and forth with a friend for months, and seeing them all laid out so coherently and beautifully like this is amazing.

    Kurt is absolutely on a hero’s journey in *Glee*, and especially has been so in this season. My friend and I have all sorts of theories about how this may lead to a dethroning of Rachel, Finn and Will (especially after they were positioned as being responsible, in their various ways, for the team’s loss at Nationals) and a new, less normative order developing in New Directions thanks to Kurt (who is the organiser of the team, as his father’s wedding, ‘Le Jazz Hot’, ‘Some People’ and Jean’s funeral show), Santana and eventually Blaine and Brittany. I’m occasionally dubious as to whether this will be allowed or whether the straight white pretty people will be required to win out/take over again for the final victory, but…they’ve certainly set up the possibility. But I had not thought of Kurt as a magician, and I love that reading, as it encompasses his qualities of imaginative/transformative power (the songs he sings suit his voice but aren’t meant for someone who looks like him, so he has to take them and remake them to be right for *him* as well as his vocal range) and capacity to enact change in the world in a way nothing else I’ve read has.

    I also feel it connects somehow with his ability to draw compassion and common human decency out of the Trickster figure Sue Sylvester in a way that nobody else other than Becky and Jean can, but I can’t quite articulate how…

    Anyway, may I friend your LJ? I’m finding your meta fascinating, and don’t want to risk missing it.

    –calanthe_b from LJ.

    • sillygleek May 27, 2011 at 1:06 pm #

      I also feel it connects somehow with his ability to draw compassion and common human decency out of the Trickster figure Sue Sylvester in a way that nobody else other than Becky and Jean can, but I can’t quite articulate how…

      THIS. As soon as I read this, you tapped into something that I’d never been able to consciously articulate about Kurt. While it’s most obvious with Sue (being that Sue is portrayed as a caricature more than anyone else), it makes me realize that he actually is the… catalyst (for lack of a better term?) for some of the most revealing vulnerable moments in other characters—moments when they’re seen, whether they want it that way or not. The only other person who does that significantly is, interestingly, Brittany with Santana. But even Santana had a moment of genuine softness with Kurt post-Karofsky confrontation in “Night of Neglect”.

      Thoughts, thoughts… too many thoughts! lol

  11. Eido May 27, 2011 at 2:25 pm #

    I was pointed here by Cal above and I’m glad for it. This was an awesome read.

    “This toxicity, and failure, was highlighted particularly strongly in his pursuit of Finn, a situation in which Kurt tried to use the force of his imagination to will his desire into the world — and fails with significant consequences for multiple people. He later tries the same thing with similar results, to a lesser extent, with Sam.”

    Kurt seems to make a brief, painful relapse of this sort of naive, wishful thinking in “Prom Queen” in his perceptions of McKinley (his belief in it being changed for the better) and Karofsky having the capacity at this point in time to be able to accept his sexuality. I’d guess that was Kurt’s Refusal of the Return stage (denial of the actual unpleasant reality of McKinley). While it turns out McKinley hadn’t really changed at all. There are some things that can’t simply be willed into existence, no matter how much he might wish it now. It’s going to take time, a lot of work and a united team effort. A team probably under some new leadership too if I’m reading the funerary and death symbolism all over especially the latter part of season 2 correctly (though began in “Grilled Cheesus”). The death of the old order in season 2/early season 3 and leading to the rebirth of the new order? Probably led by a certain “magus”, his boyfriend and his truest allies.

    “Death is transformation and alchemy”

    YES. I’d imagine Jung would refer to many of the painful things Kurt went through most of the year and the harsh reminder in “Prom Queen” of the reality of McKinley (and Karofsky’s cowardice), that there are trials ahead of him still, as the Nigredo stage.

    “Nor is it an accident that this performance also follows closely on the heels of his return to McKinley with “As If We Never Said Goodbye,” re-purposed from its original meaning into another moment where Kurt makes what is unreal (sets, stage craft, performance) real.”

    I thought it was amused they had Kurt walk on water (erm, technically “painted seas” on a high school stage) during that performance. He’s also a dualistic (both male & female, Warbler & ND, Cheerio & gleek, football player & gleek), wedding miracle-maker and his words of belief in the “sacredness” of the familial bond with Burt in “Grilled Cheesus” seemed to almost literally rouse Burt from near death? Echoing another famous magician figure also which can also be seen in characters like Neo in “The Matrix”, Harry Potter and Paul Atreides in the “Dune” series.

    • RM May 27, 2011 at 6:03 pm #

      Can I just say what a great time I am having in this conversation?

      I thought of Neo in the The Matrix in particular when I was writing this. There are a lot of similar elements there, not just in the heroic journey, but in the inherent gnosticism in the shape of that journey (which also implies pretty intensely to Paul in Dune; Harry Potter, for all its early discussion of the philosopher’s stone reads a lot more straightforward to me, although now I’m starting to think about a paper I did on Snape as representative of female heroism in that world and thinking that could tie in here pretty strongly as well). It’s also worth noting, as I think neither of us did, the performance of “Le Jazz Hot” Kurt gives us in “Duets.” It’s the first time the gender dichotomy is explicitly dealt with as something other than a description of Kurt foisted on him by others. It’s classic Victor/Victoria, sure, but it’s also classic tarot — in particular I’m thinking of the ART card in the Crowley’s Thoth deck, where art = alchemy in its illustration. It’s amusing to note that in more traditional decks XIV is TEMPERANCE. And sure, the balance/union of male/female works as TEMPERANCE and Kurt embracing what he is works as TEMPERANCE, but at the end of the day — Kurt? Temperance? It doesn’t seem obvious, and yet he’s so often the voice of reason on Glee it’s a bit startling.

      As to Refusal of the Return — I think Kurt has another moment with that when he uses “Some People” as an audition song for Nationals. The song revisits one of Kurt’s rawest and most pained moments, “Rose’s Turn” but even his confidence and humor is not enough to prevent the same stuff from getting thrown at him (too theatrical, and “you know that song’s supposed to be sung by a woman”). That disappointment, and the shape of that disappointment is such a great set-up for how he steps through and away from all of history in the course of the season finale.

      • Cal May 28, 2011 at 12:26 am #

        Kurt as Temperance – there’s a double meaning there, too. Kurt has been through the fire in Season Two, which is another way of saying he’s been *tempered*, like steel – like a sword being forged (there was some lovely meta on kurt_blaine at one point about Kurt and Blaine being effectively a sword and a shield, too).

        Yet more argument in favour of Kurt being the hero of *Glee*, and one of the fighters/warriors of the story, though his fights tend not to be physical…

      • Eido May 28, 2011 at 1:51 pm #

        “I thought of Neo in the The Matrix in particular when I was writing this. There are a lot of similar elements there, not just in the heroic journey, but in the inherent gnosticism in the shape of that journey”

        Even looking beyond Kurt’s arc regarding Gnosticism, I can’t help but think there’s this theme of sleeping and awakening throughout “Glee”. Partly in it’s a coming of age story and all of the teen characters having awakenings of a sort, but also I keep getting this impression with how ND is run, especially in 2×22, like they’ve been stumbling through this malaise of unpreparedness and lack of rehearsal because they run on ‘feelings’ instead of more professionalism. Driven directly by Will re-enacting, or enforcing, his teenage fantasies and regrets of abandoned dreams on ND and/or how he wishes his own HS experience, his own time in glee club and after HS were more like (living vicariously through Finn and Rachel in particular as he often favors them). I am wondering if the disastrous incidents in 2×22 may be or directly lead to that long overdue wake-up call, at least for Will (though I could definitely believe Kurt and others in ND probably are going to start thinking enough is enough after the Nationals loss)? Kurt-Neo possibly placed in a major role either instigating or rises up in prominence (and becoming a new guiding, driving & creating/re-creating force) after that wake-up call?

        The sleeper must awaken. You can see it in a more intimate, sweeter (but no less epic, IMO) way too. “Oh, there you are! I’ve been looking for you forever.”

        “the performance of “Le Jazz Hot” Kurt gives us in “Duets.” It’s the first time the gender dichotomy is explicitly dealt with as something other than a description of Kurt foisted on him by others. It’s classic Victor/Victoria, sure, but it’s also classic tarot — in particular I’m thinking of the ART card in the Crowley’s Thoth deck, where art = alchemy in its illustration. It’s amusing to note that in more traditional decks XIV is TEMPERANCE. And sure, the balance/union of male/female works as TEMPERANCE and Kurt embracing what he is works as TEMPERANCE, but at the end of the day — Kurt? Temperance? It doesn’t seem obvious, and yet he’s so often the voice of reason on Glee it’s a bit startling.”

        YES. ALL OF THIS. Sometimes Kurt butting heads directly with Will himself, challenging authority for the sake of more freedom of expression & spontaneity and in a way that speaks to people Kurt’s age, which Will seemed to lose sight of and he obstinately refused to hear (as we see in 2×02). Will is so out of touch with his kids and almost totally blind & deaf to what they’re saying to him, you can see it starkly in that episode. He doesn’t listen, refuses to listen, to Kurt or the rest of them (to the point he hypocritically sent Kurt to the principal’s office when we’ve seen him breaking up fights, right in the choir room once, and not sending those students to Figgins and Rachel storming out of practices or stomping in with duct tape on her mouth, disrupting the whole lesson), but then when he finally starts to sort of listen, he responds completely inappropriately (imposing himself into their sexually suggestive group performance at the assembly in 2×02). That glee club can use some temperance, that’s for sure. It needs a whole new order.

        The “Le Jazz Hot” performance made me think of Ardhanari. I ramble a little bit about LJH, Ardhanari and another incarnation of Shiva, Nataraja, on my LJ: http://eido.livejournal.com/166355.html?thread=1170131#t1170131 The male-female incarnation of the Shiva-Shakti union. Shiva, a destroyer and creator & transformer god and Shakti the energy that compels him.

        “The song revisits one of Kurt’s rawest and most pained moments, “Rose’s Turn” but even his confidence and humor is not enough to prevent the same stuff from getting thrown at him (too theatrical, and “you know that song’s supposed to be sung by a woman”). That disappointment, and the shape of that disappointment is such a great set-up for how he steps through and away from all of history in the course of the season finale.”

        Kurt doesn’t let that rejection and the revisit of compartmentalizing him – or the loss at Nationals – get him down in the way it might have in the days of (and what partly brought on) “Rose’s Turn” (and due to his uniqueness, probably compartmentalizing by other narrow-minded individuals in his future). He’s now better equipped to face it down and move past it, not let it get to him or get in the way of his aspirations. Steps away is right, in 2×22 he had his eyes clearly set on the future and that future (away from Lima, or for the sake of your meta, he can see well past Kansas now 😉 probably seems all the more reachable than it ever has been for him. A future that may very well have Blaine in it. It’s no wonder he wasn’t upset by 2×22’s end. For what he hopes to achieve, his small town high school would seem all the more small and, though an important chapter in his life, one that he will inevitably leave behind and move on to bigger and better things. He’s all ready for it and after having a taste of New York, he can see it more clearly now than ever before. He won’t have to make some antiquated “classic” choice between love and a career either, he can and will have both. Because, in quoting the movie “Pure Imagination” came from (which was quoting Arthur O’Shaughnessy), Kurt is a music maker and dreamer of dreams. 🙂

  12. trilo May 27, 2011 at 3:34 pm #

    I haven’t seen The Wizard of Oz in a long time, but when you mentioned Kurt asking if everyone was gay at Dalton, I heard echoes in my head of Dorothy asking Glinda about the munchkins and being a witch.
    magical post!
    Blaine, like the rest of us is under Kurt’s spell. (I love them both so much!)

  13. deconstructingglee May 30, 2011 at 8:38 am #

    Ok, finally got my chance to read this again properly. (because I’m hopelessly procrastinating)
    I have a real education deficit here but I’m really interested in the idea of Dalton as “faerieland”. Especially because Puck sent Kurt there.

  14. Lux May 31, 2011 at 12:47 am #

    You have once again given me a whole hell of a lot to think about. This is one of those entries that makes me feel like maybe I’m not watching the show the “right” way. Though I did notice the animal pin in episode 9 when he’s walking down the Dalton hallway and the kid highfives him before he goes into the Warbler meeting. I think it was an elk.

  15. Silverkit June 5, 2011 at 2:21 am #

    Hello!

    This is such a wonderful essay.

    I’m not sure if you’ve ever seen this (it’s very short) but it’s a little video about the process of costume designer Lou Eyrich shopping for Kurt’s wardrobe.

    http://publish.vx.roo.com/nypost/viral/2010?vxSiteId=b0debab1-419e-413a-bc36-ecb11d2ff4f8&vxChannel=PostPopWrap&vxClipId=1458_1049811&vxBitrate=300

  16. Maddy June 13, 2011 at 4:40 pm #

    this is excellent, excellent, excellent

  17. Sora Ryu December 9, 2011 at 11:41 am #

    Eh. I wouldn’t read too much into Kurt’s journey. I know this post is from a while ago but making Kurt out to be some super-special transcendent force can be de-humanizing and alienating, even when such comments are well-intentioned. The recent episode “I am Unicorn” touched on this. Sometimes being made out to be too different may not be a plus.This is where we get the trope “Magical Gay” http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/MagicalQueer
    from (a sister trope the “Magical Negro http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magical_Negro). To be a “magical” minority is derogatory.

    • Ming January 25, 2014 at 11:25 am #

      Hello! Superlate to the Meta party but discovered your blog only very recently and enjoying this stuff so much that I’m currently rewatching a lot of the old seasons, so to say with ‘new eyes’.

      I am fascinated by your Wizard and Anubis analysis, and wondered if anyone in the fandom has talked about the brooch in that Flying Monkey outfit yet? (http://content.screencast.com/users/ming85/folders/stuff/media/1d8a44a4-399b-48d8-8230-f3d7e81365b9/Screen%20Shot%202014-01-25%20at%2017.16.48%20.png)

      Is it just me, or does it look like a magician’s tophat and wand? I’m sure somebody out there has started a discussion about this already (and maybe has an answer?) but I can not find it at this moment so many years later… If you do know, please let me know! Anyway, wanted to share because IF those are magician symbols, that would be sort of solidifying your fascinating interpretation!

  18. Ming January 25, 2014 at 11:27 am #

    (so sorry posted a reply to comment by mistake, you can erase that one!)

    Hello! Superlate to the Meta party but discovered your blog only very recently and enjoying this stuff so much that I’m currently rewatching a lot of the old seasons, so to say with ‘new eyes’.

    I am fascinated by your Wizard and Anubis analysis, and wondered if anyone in the fandom has talked about the brooch in that Flying Monkey outfit yet? (http://content.screencast.com/users/ming85/folders/stuff/media/1d8a44a4-399b-48d8-8230-f3d7e81365b9/Screen%20Shot%202014-01-25%20at%2017.16.48%20.png)

    Is it just me, or does it look like a magician’s tophat and wand? I’m sure somebody out there has started a discussion about this already (and maybe has an answer?) but I can not find it at this moment so many years later… If you do know, please let me know! Anyway, wanted to share because IF those are magician symbols, that would be sort of supporting your fascinating interpretation!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. You should read this: Why is Kurt Hummel dressed like a flying monkey? « Deconstructing Glee - May 27, 2011

    […] Racheline Maltese (who writes about Glee like nobody else writes about Glee) has really hit the nail on the head with her analysis of Kurt’s journey and how that explains the fur epaulets he wears in the season finale. Go on, you have to read it. While Glee often causes me to ask somewhat bizarre questions, I never really anticipated that one of them would be Why is Kurt Hummel dressed like a flying monkey? And yet, this is the first thing I thought when filming stills started to leak weeks ago from the season finale finally broadcast this past Tuesday night. Even more surprising to me than the question, however, is that the question actually has an answer. While that answer is obviously … Read More […]

  2. Obsession and the myth of magical connection « Don't Turn It Off! - October 22, 2011

    […] accidentally treading very close to Racheline’s brilliant analysis of Kurt Hummel as magus (it’s the piece of writing that brought me fully into fandom in the […]

  3. Well, this is profoundly embarrassing (required reading) « Deconstructing Glee - November 22, 2011

    […] Why is Kurt Hummel dressed like a Flying Monkey (2.22 New York) The thing is, Kurt does have a skill, a magic, that Rachel doesn’t have. And it is an imagination that wills things in the world. It’s no accident that Kurt’s imagination transforming the stage comes a week after “Funeral,” an episode in which he leads the glee club in “Pure Imagination.” Nor is it an accident that this performance also follows closely on the heels of his return to McKinley with “As If We Never Said Goodbye,” re-purposed from its original meaning into another moment where Kurt makes what is unreal (sets, stage craft, performance) real. […]

  4. Glee: The ferryman always takes a toll « Letters from Titan - January 20, 2012

    […] Glee: Why is Kurt Hummel dressed like a flying monkey? […]

  5. Glee: Honor, duels, and consent « Letters from Titan - January 27, 2012

    […] of these particular denizens of faerieland. (If you haven’t caught it here before, Glee actually, explicitly, frames Dalton this way, from Puck’s sending Kurt there to spy to Kurt’s amazed little query as to whether all […]

  6. Glee: Learning to listen in a city of giants « Letters from Titan - September 28, 2012

    […] is now an untrained magician newly arrived in a city full of magical creatures and demigods. And he’s not just visiting this time, relying on serendipity to take a piece of stolen magic back …. This is the real deal now, and you can’t learn to conjure the same way you read a magazine […]

  7. Glee: The costume department weighs in « Letters from Titan - October 17, 2012

    […] version: the hanky code was not intentional, the death and transformation thing is, and sometimes a sweater vest is just a sweater vest. Additionally, the excellent color […]

  8. Glee: Eroticism and instruction « Letters from Titan - December 3, 2012

    […] rejects this idea of having to remake the world by himself just so that he can fit in it. Yes, he’s a magician, but he’s been bumbling about in the dark with his power. It’s dangerous and confusing […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: