Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Morality and Glorifying

If you haven't figured it out by now, I'm a Gleek.  Meaning that I watch the show GLEE every Tuesday and then sit and discuss it with my friends afterwards and giggle like a teenage girl...usually.

If you didn't watch last night's episode, it was all about the school's Alcohol Awareness week and to become "aware" the Glee kids spent a Saturday night partying it up at Rachel Berry's (and for some reason had a two day hangover) and then continued to spend their time drinking until one of them puked in public.  (Was that a spoiler?  If so I just gave the whole episode away in two sentences).

So what's wrong with this picture?  If you said underage drinking, you are partially correct.  The problem is, how can you condemn something when you did it yourself? Well one way is to NOT glorify it.

This is the age old discussion that we have all been having with YA literature and YA television.  YES teens are having sex and YES they are drinking, but do you really need to glorify it?  I'm not saying that teens need to see a moral in everything, but to not show the dark and the light side of it is kind of  like leaving out the sugar when you make a pumpkin pie...something just doesn't feel right.  (Note:  I use this analogy because I actually did do that...)

Does this mean that every teen in a YA book who drinks or has sex should suffer some kind of a consequence?  No, but in all the books I've read I don't really see it being exactly glorified.  In half of the YA books I read there usually is some sort of a sexual undertone and there is definitely drinking, but the author never actually makes their life better because of all of the sex and drinking.

Take for example Sarah Dessen's JUST LISTEN (I'm going to TRY not to give away spoilers).  Annabel does go to parties, she does drink at these parties, but it's NOT what the whole story is about.  There may be a chapter in which she talks about being at a party (something bad does actually happen at a party), but she doesn't sit there and talk about how awesome it was to be wasted or have her continuously doing it.  It's mentioned, but it's not the focal point of the story.  Does that make sense?

This is a topic that I could actually go on AND ON AND ON about, but really I want YOUR opinion.  What do you think about morality and the glorification of teenage drinking on television, movies and literature?  I will try and respond to EVERY comment on here instead of by email.  I want to know if I'm just being old and out of touch, or if this is something that bothered other people.


  1. I think teenagers will explore no matter what. From my experience outright denying that possibility is unrealistic. If we're being honest - no, there isn't always a consequence for our actions. Not everything in life is a lesson to be learned, sometimes it's literally a crap shoot on luck.

    Do I think drinking and drugs should be glorified or lauded in a book - no. Should it show up in YA, absolutely. The reality is more believable than the denial. (Hugs)Indigo

  2. @Indigo- It's true. I do believe that teens will drink even if they see something on TV that says otherwise and it does suck that not everyone will face the consequences. I also had to realize that this is a show on Fox, who does like to push the limits. I think the glorification of it is just what bothered me so much. Teen drinking isn't that glamorous...and it should have been just a little bit harder for them to get the alcohol if it was reality, lol.

  3. I remember when I was in high school there was this whole elaborate production where the school saw a drunk driver car accident and also the court proceeding for the driver, which was all enacted by the students. My problem with that show was I didn't see show a k-$-ha! song provided alcohol awareness.

    I think teenagers can be very mature when it comes to drinking and there were some moments of that in the show, too, such as Finn being a designated driver and Schuester giving out his number.

    Plus, as a writer, I don't just throw my character at a party unless there's a reason. If a person is being immature with drinking then that is part of their character. And if the character is shy at the party and only has a couple sips then that also says something about my character. I don't write edgy stuff just to be edgy.

    As you can see, I can go on and on about this, too. But for now, I'll just leave it at that.

  4. I understand that it happens, but I definitely feel that it shouldn't be glorified. And I feel it's sometimes a little over dramatized in certain texts. Maybe some characters can believe in responsible practices like having one drink over time or something.
    Writing about the 18th century, there were different beliefs about drinking during that time and age. I still wanted to be careful. I do have some fun, especially with one character. But, I don't glorify it.

  5. Nicole- Showing how characters act at a part is definitely a good way to see their personalities! And I agree there were moments in which they showed how to be responsible with alcohol (DD and Scheuster's number), but as you can see the whole party scene just really turned me off as well.

    Kelsey- I didn't think about how writing historicals would change how drinking is viewed,or if you were to write a story that took place somewhere in which drinking is the norm. There is nothing wrong with having some fun, but there is definitely a way I think that it can be taken too far.

  6. I don't think the episode glorified teen drinking as much as it made fun of teens who think alcohol is awesome. That final number when certain characters puked their guts out? I'm not Ryan Murphy, but I think he meant to show the consequences in a less afternoon special kind of way. And the party scene, when they're all super wasted? I think it was meant to be portrayed as fun for them because that's just how it is--in the moment, some teens don't care about consequences, but later they can't even function properly. That last speech with Mr. Schu was perfect to me. If you're going to do something, you better know what it entails.

    But yes, some movies/TV shows glorify teen drinking and sex. I think teens are smart enough to decide what works for them and what doesn't.

  7. Amparo- I was glad the the creators decided to make it not so "After school specially" because I don't really think that anyone would have responded to that. I'm glad that atleast the last 15 minutes did she a moral without shoving it down people's throats.

  8. First, I'm a GLEEK. And I think authors need to keep it real. I don't think it's a matter of glorifying sex and drinking BECAUSE IT HAPPENS. Hey, a long time ago, I used to be a teen and, well, I did things. BUT I was raised to be responsible. And I learned from my mistakes. And I grew as a person. Now, I have to go watch GLEE (I've figured a way to do it from France) so I can get back to you on this episode...

  9. I think it's a slippery slope if drinking and sex isn't talked about in YA it feels like it's the big elephant in the room that no one is talking about.

    I read a lot of YA and I have read both subjects are talking about. Like most things some handle it a bit more loosely like House of Night but others like The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting or Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater cover it well. Not every act of sex or alcohol will turn out bad or we would all be dead, sick, or over populated so yes sometimes there has to have consequences but to what extreme? Tell me a secret by Holly Cupala deals with parties, teen pregnancy, and a young girl who goes through it all alone. I highly recommend this book to everyone.

    TV: I don't watch Skins but from the clips it does seem like soft P0rn and I think I wasn't like that in high school but I can say that as an adult now. Books like television is considered entertainment and most should not be taken as "this is how I want to live my life too" I hate to say it but the parents and guardians have to take responsibility and talk to kids about what they see and how it relates to real life.

    I love that your blog post really make you think! Great job!

  10. Samantha- Oh I was DEFINITELY doing things that were far more worse than these Glee kids when I was their age (Sorry mom), but I did learn from my stupidity. I think that was my biggest problem was that it made the paties and the drinking look REALLY fun. In the end I think they did learn their lesson, but some of the scenes just made me uncomfortable. (Maybe because I'm old and Fox likes to push my buttons? lol.

    Cari- You are ABSOLUTELY right. If it isn't talked about it is the white elephant in the room. I know that all teenagers do it, but that episode did really make me think about what kind of message is getting put out there. Does that make sense?

  11. Cari- I also agree that parents should be talking to their kids about these things and maybe thats WHY literature and TV shows these types of things, because not ever kid is comfortable talking to their parents about it.

  12. I don't watch Glee so I can't really comment I know I can't get into it way to over hyped. Don't throw something at me.

    I had a pretty open relationship with my parents but I also had cousins, aunts, and family friends. If a kid can't talk to someone that's a bigger problem than what he or she sees on tv or reads in a book.

  13. Bloody Marys? At school???? I'm watching it now.

  14. This is definitely something that bothers me. I don't watch Glee, but it does bother me in books/television when I feel like a particular behavior/action is glorified just by how it's presented. I don't think there always *has* to be a consequence, but when non-drinkers or the teens who aren't having sex are portrayed as lame, losers, etc... that rubs me the wrong way (depending, of course & especially in books, on the main character and how his/her attitudes develop and change). I feel like this is kind of like saying that the worst thing to be is a "good" teen and it does annoy me.

  15. Samantha- Yeah, see what I mean? lol

    Jordyn- Oh I agree that it irks me when the teens that don't drink are losers. Even watching Glee lastnight (I'm going to give a out everyone), the girl who was hosting the party wasn't "cool" until she let everyone raid her dads' liquor cabinet. You make a very good point! Thanks for adding to the discussion!

  16. I don't think YA books should have all "bad things" banished to keep them innocent. It's just not real. This reminds me of how the book Speak is getting banned because there is a rape scene. It doesn't promote rape by any means, but gives the subject a serious look in the context of a girl's story.

  17. Lydia- I'm not saying that they should be banished, but you're right books and telivison shows that are giving a serious looks to these sides of things shouldn't be banned. Of course there is a way to do it that shows the serious side (like Speak) and a way that glorifies it.

  18. I think some authors try so hard to ingratiate themselves with teens by making them drink and have sex and hate their parents, etc. Or they go the opposite direction and try to moralize. The truth is, in real life some of our actions have consequences, and some don't. Sometimes the consequences are all out of proportion to our actions.

    One thing book banners don't always understand is that sometimes a book with drinking or sex actually *helps* their cause. I know several girls who said Ellen Hopkins helped convince them not to do drugs because of her books. And as a teen, Forever by Judy Blume persuaded me to be very careful about any sexual relationships. Yet Hopkins' and Blume's books are banned simply because they contain drugs and sex.

    I know that's not directly answering your question, but that's where my mind went with it. :-D

  19. The books I read don't seem to be glorifying drinking, drugs or sex, but seem to be giving a realistic slice of life.

    There have only been a few instances when I thought to myself, "this is too strong" or "where are the consequences".

  20. Caryn- I can see authors doing that and sometimes going too far, same with TV shows doing it to get a bit of an edge.

    As far as Judy Blume...the scene with her at the clinic made me NEVER want to get a gyno exam. The mirror part especially.

    I think you answered the question and it's nice to see that it got you thinking!

    Medeia- I think that is what more people need to be reading are the ones that give it a realistic slice. I think most authors are pretty good at showing a well rounded view of things in which TV may not have the time to do or TV writers may just choose not to.


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