Glee: The Lorax and The Tramp

In “Shooting Star,” an episode featuring a fake telescope (a Pringles can), a fake identity (katiexoxo) and a fake family (Sam, Brittany and the Tubbingtons), we are presented with a very real gun, as well as a very real Sue—one who doesn’t present her usual facade, and whose mantra depicted on the poster behind her desk, “Win at all costs,” takes on an rather different meaning. Two text references are of particular interest to me here, as they speak to Sue’s story and the glee kids’ frightening day while also commenting on guns and violence in schools.

Lady and the Tramp

Lady-tramp-disneyscreencaps_com-7692Shannon mentions that Lady and the Tramp is one of her and Will’s favorite films. The locker room is decked out like an Italian restaurant where meatballs and pasta await, but what’s most interesting is the way the film echoes the intense drama about to unfold in the choir room as well as the situation between Sue and Becky that is behind it all. That’s because in the film, Lady and the Tramp discover a rat trying to enter the home where Lady lives—its intention is to harm the baby inside. The two dogs find the rat hovering on the crib’s rails, and in the battle that ensues the crib is overturned. In the confusion the dogs are assumed to be the perpetrators instead of the rat (who is in fact killed by the Tramp).

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The Lorax

The Lorax poster behind Ryder, right next to Beiste’s self-defense training poster, is a curious combination. The Lorax tells the tale of an entrepreneur (the Once-ler) so bent on progress and making a profit that he wastes valuable resources and destroys the ecosystem, leaving desolation behind. The Lorax warns the Once-ler to be responsible, but is basically ignored. One of the prominent images in the story is a stone slab that reads “Unless.” Unless someone cares, the Once-ler finally understands it to mean, nothing will change. Even though the story is in large part about sustainability, the sentiment applies here too: to the school environment. In fact after the shooting incident we already see changes to that environment, don’t we, as lockers are checked and scanners and cameras are put in place? “Seriously?” Sue asks, as she walks through the new devices.

The self-defense class poster reminds me of Brittany’s advice to Becky. “If you really prepare yourself,” she says, “the world won’t seem like such a scary place.” Preparation, in this case, is learning to fight back, especially, as the specific Lorax quote on the poster suggests, you don’t have a voice.

But who is the Lorax in this scenario, anyway? I really like the idea of Sue as caretaker, as protector, even as she is simultaneously the Once-ler, willing to “win at all costs,” willing to destroy in order to succeed. But who protects her, in an episode about people finding ways to protect each other? In an episode where everyone speaks, where people “say what they need to say,” Sue is the only one who can’t speak. And when Ryder asks her to, when he asks whether she’ll say something about his whereabouts during the assembly and write him up, she won’t. “Because I don’t work here anymore,” she says. And then she’s gone.