Wednesday, November 16, 2011

800 Words: Being Popular - a conversation between Evan, Eugene O'Neill and Rachel Berry from Glee's an oldie from the Voices of Washington days....and I wondered why that group didn't work out...

(Evan sits quietly in his room, attempting to do Kol Rinah work, along comes Eugene O'Neill and Rachel Berry from Glee. They walk into his room, arm in arm. Eugene's other arm has a whiskey, Rachel's other arm has an i-Phone.)

Eugene O'Neill (to Rachel): Perhaps there's something to this gay marriage thing. God knows the straight ones never worked out.

Rachel Berry: And maybe you're right about all good girls wanting to marry their fathers. The problem is that I could never figure out which of my fathers to marry.

Evan: I suppose it's not worth mentioning that I'm working on something important right now.

Eugene: Shut up kid, this is what's important.

Rachel: We need to talk to you Evan, seriously. We're totally concerned about your attitude towards mixing high art with popular culture.

Evan: I suppose I have no choice but to listen to this....

Rachel: We're happy being apart from each other.

Eugene: I'm not happy.

Rachel: I don't want to challenge people. I want the world to love me. People who challenge other people always look unhappy and kind of creepy.

Evan: And what do you think of this Gene?

Eugene: I agree with her. Even if in twenty years she'll be a sauced whore like my mother.

Evan: Your mother was addicted to morphine.

Eugene: Whatever.

Rachel: Why do you dislike us both so much?

Evan: I don't dislike either of you at all.

Eugene: That's a shame...

Rachel: So why are you always staring daggers into Gleeks whenever you meet them?

Evan: I don't stare daggers, I roll my eyes. And I do that because nobody should be liked unconditionally.

Rachel: I don't even know what that means. But I do know that unconditional love makes the world go 'round!

Eugene: And nobody'll tell her the world is flat...

Evan: Loving and liking are two very different things Rachel. I like Glee pretty well every time I watch it, and I like Long Day's Journey Into Night. But I don't think it's a good idea to make a religion out of either of them. If you take Gene's plays too seriously you'll end up thinking people are miserable creatures and go crazy five minutes after you leave the theater. If you make a religion out of Glee you'll end up a narcissist who can't see the world out of anybody's eyes but you're own.

Rachel: I can see the world through other people's eyes!

Eugene: She can. Just a few minutes ago she was telling me how great it must be to be Liza Minnelli.

Evan: I don't doubt you can Rachel. But the world is a much more difficult place than your show allows.

Rachel: But we show people's problems! We show problems all the time! Is it so wrong to make people's problems adorable with a little song-and-dance?

Evan: There's nothing wrong with it. But nobody's adorable all the time. It would be a lot more interesting if you showed people being disgusting and then demonstrate why they're still worth loving.

Eugene: Who needs love when you have disgust?

Rachel: I don't see why anybody should do that. Putting on a good song-and-dance is frustrating enough without people seeing what goes into it.

Evan: How will you know until you try?

Rachel: What about the Gleeks?

Evan: What about them?

Rachel: They have a right to love shows like mine.

Evan: They certainly do. And I have a right to disagree with them.

Rachel: But why do you disagree? All we want is for you to love us.

Evan: There you have it. A show like yours doesn't want to give people the choice.

Rachel: But we just want to be loved so badly!

Evan: You can't force people to do that. What would be so terrible if you let us see the show from a different point of view?

Rachel: What point of view do we not show?

Evan: Well, why do we never get stories from the orchestra musicians' point of view? Or the tech people? Or that journalist guy who likes you so much?

Rachel: Why should we? This is our show and they're not as interesting as we are. We have to use them to get what we want from them.

Evan: I don't know that they're not as interesting. But if your show tried to see things from their point of view you it would go a long way to making the show something more than adorable.

Rachel: Again you go off with these grand dreams about all the stuff my show should be. We just want to entertain people, we don't care if they don't want anything more from us. Why can't you just be satisfied with entertainment? Look at me, I'm an entertainer and everybody loves me.

Eugene: Except for whatever unfortunate kid knocks you up.

Evan: OK Gene. Even I'm cringing now.

Rachel: No, he's right. I'll probably end up trapped in a bad marriage with kids I can't stand.

Eugene: Then maybe we can make an artist out of you.

Evan: Rachel, how can you possibly talk about yourself like this?

Rachel: That's my whole point. I'm probably the same as lots of the singers you see week-after-week in all your rehearsals. A lot of us don't have much hope for what life's going to give us, so we just want to have some fun while we can still convince ourselves that we're worth loving for a little bit of time every week.

Eugene: Hooray for women setting the bar low! (downs the rest of the whiskey)

Evan: Rachel, I don't know where to begin. That's not how most singers feel, that's how most people feel. Life is difficult for everybody, but the one thing that can ensure that life stays difficult is to not aim higher. If you want to just be entertained, then you can be sure that you will feel just as miserable about your problems after the performance is done as you did before. But the one thing you can do to combat that is to perform things that challenge your beliefs about what life is and let you view things with a different perspective. And that is why I became a conductor - so that I can give people music that makes them feel completely different about their lives after they experienced it than they did before. It's a long process and not always the easiest, but it's worth it every time. I'm pretty good at what I do, and while there's no doubt that I was born laying on the sarcasm on thickly, I always try to be considerate to the feelings of the people who sing under me. I love singers, and I wouldn't want to work with anybody else.

Rachel: But how would we ever know that without you always indicating approval at what we do?

Evan: You don't need my approval, you just need my counsel for how to be a better singer. So long as you work hard, you will always have my approval.

Rachel: But I'm a girl. I need constant approval.

Evan: Oh my....Rachel, this is 2010 and you are not a talented woman, you are a talented person. If somebody like me would disapprove, you'd have no reason to take me seriously. Hopefully women like you will never again need to tell themselves that life will only get better if other people approve of them.

Eugene: I'll never approve of women.

Evan: We know.

Rachel: Wait. So does this mean you're saying my show is anti-feminist?

Evan: Not quite. But it's skirting the line. (Evan realizes what he just said and cringes)

Eugene: Good one dumbass.

Rachel: Shut up Gene.

Eugene: Yes ma'am.

Rachel: I don't know how you can think that. We've empowered women all across the country!

Evan: Glee is a show that gets its power from its ability to caricature it's characters in different ways and then subvert those stereotypes. But just maybe,...very seldomly,... stereotypes are stereotypes for a good reason. Sometimes the show implies that not only do women have the ability to be manipulate others, women and men, at a level that men can't, but that in some ways this is a good thing and that this should be viewed an endearing trait. It's no different than how Glee occasionally shows Puck's bullying as an affectionate vice that he doesn't get rid of in spite of having a sensitive side. By including this, part of the message you all are giving is that 'It's OK to do terrible things because even people who do terrible things can have redeeming qualities that make their terrible acts worth putting up with.' We watch Tony Soprano kill dozens of people, we watch Don Draper lie to everyone in his life, we watch Homer Simpson ruin his family's lives. We're supposed to feel sympathy for what makes them do what they do and occasionally even love them, but we're never supposed to excuse their flaws.

Rachel: But this is totally contradicting what you said earlier. This is getting people to see things from a different point of view!

Evan: It's not a different point of view when you can hear claims like the ones made in Glee in every high school in America. That doesn't challenge people, that defines laziness.

Rachel: Well I suppose see your point. But we make too much money to change anything about that.

Evan: No argument there. I'm all for making money and wish I had a lot more these days. Anyway I suppose we should wrap things up. By the way, you should be nicer to that creepy journalism kid who likes you. That was me ten years ago.

Eugene: If kids like that boy and Evan didn't spend so much time trying to impress girls like you with their political correctness maybe they could grow up to be Eugene O'Neill!

Rachel: Ah-ha! So you admit it Eugene O'Neill. You watch Glee.

Eugene: Only when The Biggest Loser isn't on.

(In walks Stephen Sondheim who opens his mouth six feet wide and eats both Eugene O'Neill and Rachel Berry in a single bite and gulp)

Stephen Sondheim: Thanks Evan! I was really hungry!

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