Was High School Really That Exciting?
I’m not sure whether to curse or praise my friend who first got me to watch Glee on NetFlix, but it’s too late for regrets. I’m not a full-on Gleek, but I am hooked on the show now (I’ve only seen about half of the first season, so far), and was charmed since the first episode. It’s at the point that I have to make sure to check the time before I start it playing, because if I don’t, I end up watching two or three episodes in a row and the time just flies by – I have to make sure not to use it as one of my late night distractions, lest I lose too much sleep.
I ought to know better, by now, though – her recommendations have been pretty good to date – it’s because of her that I know about Merlin, Shinedown, and Rascal Flatts.
What it is about Glee that hooked me, I’m not certain, but I think it has to do with music, and its effect on the human condition. I’m a pretty big fan of any music that’s singable, and this show is all about singable music. Further, I have a soft spot for Les Miserables, and when Rachel Berry (Lea Michele) sang “On My Own”, Eponine’s haunting solo, I knew this was a show that I could get behind. She has a fantastic voice, and her rendition reminded me of the performance of another Lea, Lea Salonga, whose performance of the same song for the 10th Anniversary concert for Les Mis is probably my favorite performance of the song.
Further, while I wasn’t anything near athletic in high school, I found myself relating to the insecurity that the other lead character, Finn Hudson (Cory Monteith), went through during his joining of the New Directions in the pilot. I’m definitely an amateur karaoke/shower/car singer, and it’s one of those things that I really enjoy doing. I know I don’t sing particularly well, but I enjoy it nonetheless – and that’s saying something for me, being the harsh critic I am about myself. Finn’s insecurity about his singing, his reluctance to join the glee club at the beginning, and his view about the general ‘geekiness’ of the kids that were a part of the club were all things that I saw when I looked at the choir in my own high school. I knew a couple people in it, hung out a bit in the mornings with them when they were just fooling around – Billy Joel’s “Uptown Girl” was a particular favorite (I enjoyed trying to do the low backup part) – and I enjoyed it a lot, but I just couldn’t get myself to join it. I’m not a great performer, and I couldn’t see myself up onstage in costume, singing in front of an audience. I guess it’s ironic that I spent a great deal of time in high school in my USMC Dress Blue uniform (costume?) doing close order drill routines (performing?) in parades (in front of an audience?). Yeah, maybe I don’t know my own abilities and shortcomings as well as I think I do.
Cliques, fights, drama, and just high school everyday pressures – yeah, I saw it when I went through it, too. I had the ‘honors nerd’ crowd in most of my classes, and the ‘Junior Jarheads’ for ROTC. I shot .22 rifles for my sport activity – how many kids can say they got to use firearms at school legitimately? My class trips were spent on military bases – in mess halls, on firing ranges, and in barracks. And those were great memories, some of the best of all times. As my Marine Instructor, SgtMaj McClymonds used to say when we were back on his familiar stomping grounds at MCRD San Diego, “You ain’t had it so good!”
I remember being very self conscious of what I did in the public eye in high school, which was pretty funny in retrospect, given that I wasn’t really part of any ‘in’ crowd. I was one of ‘those guys’ into Dungeons and Dragons, one of the first-generation American anime fans, and I came to school at least once a week in Camouflage utilities (Wednesdays were inspection days). I had a good number of friends that were girls, but didn’t have a girlfriend, and had a better record of setting my friends up in relationships, than setting myself up.
And while there’s a lot different about my own high school memories, I find myself relating to some of the things that pop up in this show. I find that I connect to ideas easier in song, and that because so much of this show is musical in nature, I am touched by the themes far more often than I am with other shows that I watch.
They sing and perform, and I smile. I sing along (to myself, of course) with the songs I know. The plots and their resolutions, while often not surprising, do make me grin and frown, make me happy and sad to watch. When the club triumphs, I feel it, and remember back to parades in high school where my drill team won awards. When the characters find their attractions unrequited, I remember that one ‘that got away’ from my Junior year, and wonder what ‘could have been’ and how she did once she moved back to Canada. I watch them perform and wish that karaoke had been around when I was that age, and that I had taken that extra step to join the choir.
I don’t think that high school was as exciting as this show makes it out to be, but in remembering it, it was a pretty fun place to be, despite all the work there was in being a student. I know I miss being a student – high school or college, really – where classes were the main priority of any day, and that homework and tests were the activities of the day, and where I didn’t know what it was all about. The “real world” is a pretty sobering place, even with the availability of alcohol, especially in this poor job market.
It’s certainly not all bad – I used to think in high school that I wouldn’t be caught dead living in Los Angeles, and now I can’t imagine myself going back to Sacramento. I’ve met great people, and my work experiences have been generally ok, even despite all the idiots. Yes, as I’ve written before, I relate now with Office Space, and I understand and enjoy Dilbert. I’ve done things that I never thought I’d do, because it was generally unavailable in Sacramento, like surfing or game testing (as a job).
But I do wonder about some of those things that I didn’t do when I’d had the chance. I think that’s what I like about this show – it’s all about the characters doing what they want to despite their own fears of doing so. It’s about the relationships that form in the ‘outcasts’ simply because they have that in common. And it’s about people singing fun stuff and enjoying it, and that’s something that I wish I did more.
I do feel, though, that if Glee or Rock Band had existed when I was in high school, I don’t know how different I’d be now. There’s something about saying ‘Fuck it’ and doing what you want to do, despite whatever anyone else thinks and just laughing about it after, that’s refreshing. Exciting. Energizing.
It restores passion. It makes me positive again. It makes me smile.
And I think we all need a little more of that in this world, especially in today’s world.
It’s time for New Directions. It’s a good time for Glee.
Don’t Stop Believin’!
My 2 yen,
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