Analysis of the episode: ‘ The Power of Madonna’ <ul><li>"The Power of Madonna" serves as a musical tribute to Madonna, featuring cover versions of eight of her songs. </li></ul><ul><li>The songs featured were: ‘Ray of Light’,‘ Express Yourself’, ‘Borderline’/ ‘Open Your Heart’, ‘Frozen’, ‘Vogue’, ‘Like a Virgin’, ‘Justify My Love’, ‘4 Minutes’, ‘What It Feels Like for a Girl’ and finally ‘Like a Prayer.’ </li></ul>Synopsis: The girls of the glee club are having difficulties in relationships and life, therefore, Will sees it fit to assign a Madonna-inspired club assignment, in order for the club to remain equal. He got this idea from watching Sue’s Cheerio’s emulate Madonna for a cheer routine. They re-enact her songs, in the image of their own personal issues, including sex, relationships and rights, which more or less come their resolution. ‘ 4 Minutes’ ‘ Express Yourself’ ‘ Vogue’ ‘ Like a Virgin’
‘ Like a Virgin’ The Glee rendition of this song is one the most important ones of the Episode, as it focuses on the issue of virginity. The glee rendition portrays the song with 3 characters attempting to lose their virginity – Rachel, Finn and Emma. ‘ Express Yourself’ The Glee girls perform this song in order for the male members of the glee club to respect them more, hence why Will gave this assignment; to get rid of misogynistic views. ‘ Vogue’ Sue performs to this popular song after will snipe about her hair, hurting her self-esteem. She has gotten a taste of her own medicine, as she mocks and taunts everyone, especially Will and ironically about his hairstyle. So Kurt and Mercedes give her a makeover and her portrayal in the song shows how despite her ‘tomboy’ look and personality, she still has feelings and is hurt when someone is cruel to her. She is just like everybody else, yet she behaves in the same way to everyone else. ‘ 4 Minutes’ Kurt and Mercedes perform this song, once they have become the new cheerleaders at McKinley High, leading to taunts from the school. A gay student and a girl who isn’t considered beautiful due to her weight have joined the cheer squad, which is definitely not the norm of most high schools. Analysis of the episode: ‘ The Power of Madonna’
Institution Key Concepts Glee is an American musical comedy-drama television series. It focuses on the high school glee club New Directions competing on the show choir competition circuit, while its members deal with relationships, sexuality and social issues. It was created and executively produced by Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk and Ian Brennan, who also co-wrote it, along with many others. Ian Brennan conceived Glee based on his own experience as a member of the Prospect High School show choir in Mount Prospect, Illinois. <ul><li>Main Cast: </li></ul><ul><li>Dianna Agron – Quinn Fabray </li></ul><ul><li>Chris Colfer – Kurt Hummel </li></ul><ul><li>Darren Criss – Blaine Anderson </li></ul><ul><li>Jessalyn Gilsig – Terri Schuester </li></ul><ul><li>Jane Lynch – Sue Sylvester </li></ul><ul><li>Jayma Mays – Emma Pillsbury </li></ul><ul><li>Kevin McHale – Artie Abrams </li></ul><ul><li>Lea Michele – Rachel Berry </li></ul><ul><li>Cory Monteith – Finn Hudson </li></ul><ul><li>Heather Morris – Brittany Pierce </li></ul><ul><li>Matthew Morrison – Will Schuester </li></ul><ul><li>Mike O'Malley – Burt Hummel </li></ul><ul><li>Amber Riley – Mercedes Jones </li></ul><ul><li>Naya Rivera – Santana Lopez </li></ul><ul><li>Mark Salling – Noah ‘Puck’ Puckerman </li></ul><ul><li>Harry Shum, Jr. – Mike Chang </li></ul><ul><li>Jenna Ushkowitz – Tina Cohen-Chang </li></ul>During its first season, Glee received generally favorable reviews from critics, with Metacritic's weighted average based on the impression of 18 critical reviews of 77 percent. The season was nominated for nineteen Emmy Awards, four Golden Globe Awards, six Satellite Awards and fifty-seven other awards, with wins including the 2010 Golden Globe Award for Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy and Emmy awards for Jane Lynch and Murphy's direction of the pilot episode. It was produced by Alexis Martin Woodall, Michael Novick, Kenneth Silverstein and Robert Del Valle. Its production and distribution company is 20th Century Fox Television, and its cinematographer is Christopher Baffa.
Convention Key Concepts Glee is a musical, comedic TV drama, aimed at teenagers and adults. Its conventions stem from its genre. For instance, its conventional for a musical drama, to have characters break out into song and dance in a scene, in the middle of the school hallway, where they belt out a ballad about the personal issues of love, betrayal and friendship. This does happen in Glee, but it also subverts this convention, showing its more contemporary side, as the performances are usually well planned and practised and then performed as a close to the episode – establishing their own convention. Usually most shows end with a cliff-hanger, Glee mostly ends with a performance, representing the characters who have had issues in the episode overcoming them – like a moral to a story. As in the Madonna episode, the show began with the boys and girls’ personalities clashing, due to misogynistic behaviour . So, throughout the episode, both boys and girls perform Madonna songs, matching to their own problems in life. For instance, the girls perform ‘Express Yourself’, to convey their feelings as powerful, strong women and Sue does her own rendition of Vogue, after a nasty taunt from Will about her masculine appearance. Therefore she shows that she is a woman and proud of her femininity. As the episode progressed, the characters become more understanding of eachother and the episode ends with an empowering performance of ‘Like a prayer’, to show they are all equal and friends.
Audience Key Concepts The target audience for Glee is a mixture of generations, due to the multiple storylines involved in the comedy-drama. First of all, the trials and tribulations of the students refer the my generation, the ages of students who are studying in high school or university/college, so between the ages of 13 and 21. Those above the age of 21 – 30 are also targeted, to relate to the characters of the teachers and adult characters in the series. For instance, males may relate to Schuster's character, as a teacher/struggling performer trying to make it big on Broadway. Females may relate to Emma’s character, in terms of their personal life, or Sue, in terms of looks, power and social life – both depicted in the episode I am analysing.
Representation Key Concepts All the characters have equally interesting representations, however there are a chosen few who are represented cleverly to embody important aspects of both personal and professional lives. For instance, the characters of Kurt Hummel, Rachel Berry, Emma Pillsbury and Quinn Fabray. Kurt comes from a lone-parent family, headed by his father, after his mother’s death. he has come out as gay, however homosexuality is not welcomed in Lima, Ohio, let alone McKinley High. He is constantly trying to deal with the taunts of some students, as they call him ‘Lady’ and assert their authority by throwing slushies at him and shoving him into lockers. Even Sue mocks his homosexuality, by calling him various offensive terms relating to weakness and beauty, like ‘Fairy.’ In the Madonna episode, he even becomes a cheerleader, enhancing this ‘female’ image that bullies give him, according to homosexual stereotypes. Having a gay character in tv series, aimed at teenagers is conventional, as its helps them overcome their own bullies.
Rachel’s is also ‘unconventional’ in the sense that she doesn’t come from a nuclear family, she has two fathers, who had their child through a surrogate mother. Therefore, she doesn’t have a female role model to share her problems and feelings with, hence why she has trouble losing her virginity, in the Madonna episode. She is the most ambitious character in the series, she will go to any lengths to become a star and reach those heights that her idols, like Barbara Streisand, have accomplished. This strong ambition leaves her disliked by the glee club, especially the Cheerios. Her love life is also on a downside due to her personality, however she finds her perfect match, in Jesse, to whom she attempts to lose her virginity to. Representation Key Concepts
Quinn comes from a typical nuclear family, of Catholic faith. She is the head cheerleader, head of the celibacy club and the most popular girl in school. Until she gets pregnant, and the father is not her boyfriend. She cheats on her boyfriend with his best friend. Once she reveals her pregnancy to her family, she is disowned. Her character presents the tough life of a girl whose life has been turned upside down, as she is kicked of the cheerleading squad and loses her popularity and boyfriend after he finds out the truth. Her character just depicts the irony of her situation, especially since she had vowed to not lose her virginity till marriage and she ends up pregnant in high school. She then has to face the taunts and mocking of the students, as well as Sue. Many girls can relate to Quinn’s character, in both US and UK, as teenage pregnancy is a growing issue. Representation Key Concepts
Postmodern Theory Valerie Wee calls Glee a ‘ hyper -postmodern media culture .’ It is a mash-up of generic influences, intertextual references, music, and ideological content; both nostalgic and forward-thinking. This is best referenced in ‘The Power of Madonna’ episode with the intertextual references and pastiche of pop icon, Madonna. The Glee rendition of her most loved songs, combined with their own personal and professional issues is this mash-up of musical talent with the ethos of romance and loving someone for who they are. This is most apparent in their version of ‘like a virgin’, performed by the characters of Rachel & Jesse, Emma & Will and Santana & Finn – depicting their reluctance to take their relationships to the next level. There are many other aspects of Glee that are considered postmodern, like its plurality of characterisation and nostalgic content. Plurality is when there are multiple stories and multiple identities, seen in this show, as there are so many characters, each with their own personal story and all of their stories get told in one way or another. The Glee characters portray a mixture of different races/religions, different personalities, different handicaps and different cliques. These are all consistently represented through the stricture of the sub-plots, through the its musical element – reinforcing its mash-up content. For instance, in the Madonna episode, the boys’ personalities are seen as misogynistic and overpowering the girls’, hence why Will decided to assign the difficult task of Madonna songs, hoping that the boys will respect the girls, due to the underlying messages of songs like ‘Express Yourself’ and ‘What it feels like for a girl.’ This use of Madonna songs presents the elements of Nostalgia that are constantly addressed within the show. Will loves to have the glee club sing old, classic songs, another reason why he chose to do Madonna’s music, as she was extremely popular and influential, in her prime, and she still is.
Postmodern Theory Philosopher Charles Taylor suggests that people have always struggled with the identity, today’s generations struggle with figuring out who they are, and often allow their identities to be shaped by the world around them. Barry Taylor says that identity derives from our imagination. ‘ We shop for ‘ourselves’ in the marketplace of ever-expanding ideas brought to us when we enter cyberspace or media culture, or when we engage with the seemingly endless possibilities presented to us by a global consumer culture.’ This links to a Marixst postmodern view of identity and culture, as its all based on consumption, capitalist thinking and a fragmented society. Taylor quotes David Lyon , saying that in today’s culture, ‘ people flitting like butterflies from store to store, and from symbol to symbol, constantly constructing themselves, trying on this fashion, this lifestyle. A sort of pastiche persona results, so the self – and life itself – becomes transient, ephemeral, episodic and apparently insignificant…flexible, amenable to infinite reshaping according to mood, whim, desire and imagination.’ Glee embodies these views, as through the characters, music and the entire experience, both the actors and audience can identify with what’s happening on stage, become lost in it, and in the whole process shape their own sense of self-awareness and identity.