CMU Beef Of The Week #50: Glee v Rock

GleeThis week, ‘Glee’ creator Ryan Murphy came out fighting in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, in which he was asked about comments made about the show by Kings Of Leon and Slash.

Earlier this month, Slash told Entertainment Weekly: “Glee is worse than ‘Grease’ and ‘Grease’ is bad enough. I look at ‘Grease’ now and think, ‘Between ‘High School Musical’ and ‘Glee’, ‘Grease’ was a work of art’”.

‘Grease’ is a work of art, of course, but I can see his point. Murphy can’t though. He is unwilling to accept that some people might think that musical films and TV shows set in American high schools are a bit shit, telling The Hollywood Reporter: “Usually I find that people who make those comments, their careers are over; they’re uneducated and quite stupid”.
Oof! Succinctly taken down there. Okay, he focused on his own personal and possibly groundless opinions of Slash, rather than addressing the guitarist’s claims against the artistic credibility of his show, but, hey, at least he did it in a more measured and calm manner than Axl Rose did on ‘Get In The Ring’.

With the former Guns N Roses guitarist defeated, Murphy moved on to Kings Of Leon. Last year, in an interview with the NME, bassist Nathan Followill revealed that they’d turned down the opportunity to have their music used in ‘Glee’ – despite the fact that “apparently everybody loves it” – saying: “We could have sold out so much more. We turn stuff down constantly”.

A reasonable thing to say, you might think. After all many artists like to keep a tight control over how and when their music is used. Not so, apparently. Kings Of Leon, in their heartless attempt to stop their music from becoming even more overly dispersed than it already is, are apparently stopping The Kids from learning to play musical instruments and sing.

Or, as Murphy put it: “Fuck you, Kings Of Leon. They’re self-centred assholes and they missed the big picture. They missed that a seven year old kid can see someone close to their age singing a Kings Of Leon song, which will maybe make them want to join a glee club or pick up a musical instrument. It’s like, OK, hate on arts education. You can make fun of ‘Glee’ all you want, but at its heart, what we really do is turn kids on to music”.

First off, aren’t all the characters in ‘Glee’ in their late teens and played by people in their late 20s? That’s not exactly close in age to seven year olds. And second, I thought ‘Glee’ was a cynical attempt to sell cover versions of songs to teenagers. Clearly that part of it was a front.

With this quote in hand, The Hollywood Reporter rushed straight round to KOL frontman Caleb Followill’s house with a dictaphone and played him the evidence. He was shocked.

“This whole ‘Glee’ thing is a shock to us”, he said. “It’s gotten out of hand. At the time of the request, we hadn’t even seen the show. It came at the end of that record cycle, and we were [bored of] promoting [it]. This was never meant as a slap in the face to ‘Glee’ or to music education or to fans of the show. We’re not sure where the anger is coming from”.

And that could so easily have been the end of it. But someone always has to mouth off on Twitter, don’t they? In this case it was the band’s drummer Nathan Followill, who wrote on Wednesday: “Dear Ryan Murphy, let it go. See a therapist, get a manicure, buy a new bra. Zip your lip and focus on educating seven year olds how to say ‘fuck’”.

Murphy got straight on the phone to Perez Hilton to denounce what he saw as a gay slur, saying: “That’s a homophobe badly in need of some education. I’m all for manicures, don’t wear a bra. Would guess most gay dudes don’t. It’s telling that Nathan can reduce a group of people to a mean-spirited cliché, in a time where young gay men are killing themselves all over the country because of hatred like this”.

Oof again! But, Murphy did hold out an olive branch, adding: “That said, I would love to sit down with Nathan or any member of Kings [Of] Leon, and tell them how on ‘Glee’ we actually love their music, and support their artistry… but cannot condone or even laugh at their clear disdain of gay people”.

Of course, you could read Followill’s comments differently, and think that he was accusing Murphy of being like a whiney woman. Though if you do, bang goes the drummer’s new job presenting football coverage on the all new Sky Sports. Except he says it was neither, and later deleted the offending tweet, saying: “I’m sorry for anyone that misconstrued my comments as homophobic or misogynistic. I’m so not that kind of person. I really do apologise”.

Yeah, he presumably meant the other form of prejudice where you might accuse a man of needing a bra; he was saying Ryan Murphy is obese. I’ve seen photos of him, he’s actually pretty skinny. Oh my God, Nathan Followill hates fat people and promotes anorexia! Someone prepare a statement, quick!

This is one of the many things I wrote for CMU this week. You can see the original here.

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