Friday, April 8, 2011

Karofsky, Part 2

A lighter, more fun post today.  Yes, I think I have those in me, too.  I hope so, anyway.

First, I thought I'd share some statistical information about my blog, which you may (or may not) find as fascinating as me.

To the left is a list of the top ten posts.  These are the ones that received the largest number of page views of the nearly 250 posts I've written in the past two years (that remain on my blog).  The stats for the top five, starting from the bottom up, are as follows:

5.  "Why What Makes One Gay Doesn't Matter," written January 20, 2011, total page views--199.
4.  "Strong Gay Men, #2," written September 9, 2010, total page views--229.
3.  "Positive Images (Revised)," written January 12, 2011, total page views--305.
2.  "Strong, Gay Men," written July 12, 2010, total page views--439.

And--drum roll, please--the Number One post to receive the highest number of page views--a full 454 more than the next most popular post, is "Karofsky," written on November 24, 2010, following the "Never Been Kissed" episode of Glee, in which football jock Dave Karofsky, played by Max Adler, laid one on Kurt Hummel, played by Chris Colfer.  This post has received a whopping 893--and counting--page views so far.  

I have no clue why this particular post has generated so much interest, far most than any of the others I've written on subjects I consider far more important (such as raising self-esteem in gay men).  But, in an effort to figure it out, I googled the word "Karofsky"and found a reference to my the bottom of the second full screen of options.  Which means you'd have to go looking (a little) to find it.  (I even thought people might have searched for information on someone else with the same surname and landed on my blog, only to realize it wasn't what they were looking for.  Who knows?  It remains a mystery.)

But, for the sake of argument, let's assume what I have to say about Dave Karofsky on Glee genuinely interested almost nine hundred people.  Why could that be?    

Perhaps because he's one of the most fascinating characters on TV right now, and I think one of the most compelling.  Here's why:  

1).  Because you would never in a million years suspect he's gay.  I mean, take a look at that face. When you saw him throughout Season 1, throwing Slushies at Rachel, Finn, et. al., did you think for an instant he was gay?  You're a liar if you say you did.  He's a major closet case, easier able to hide his sexual orientation than most of us.  That in itself is fascinating.    

2).   Because, in the TV universe, where everything--and I mean everything--is out there to see, we know nothing about Dave Karofsky.  We know nothing about his past.  We know nothing about his torment (and, believe me, someone with that much anger is tormented).  And we know nothing about his future, which I'll have more to write about below.  

3).  Because he's the quintessential high school bully finally getting his just desserts. Our parents told us about their type--insecure, probably the exact same thing they teased us for being--but we didn't believe them, did we?  Well, now we have Karofsky, the symbolic bully, the manifestation of what our parents always said.  Imagine, the studly, high school football jock, with apparently everything going for  Does it get any better than that?  

But I don't think these are the only reasons why this particular TV character fascinates.

For example, I think viewers are interested in where the writers and producers of the Fox series plan to take him.  That is, if you haven't already lost interest.  Karofsky hasn't appeared in a single episode--not even to throw another Slushie, slam someone into a locker, or threaten death--since "The Sue Sylvester Shuffle" aired following the Super Bowl on February 6 (in which, incredibly, he both danced and sang, after he said he wouldn't, because they were both gay).  Not one sighting.  Does this mean the series is done with the Karofsky character?

If the blogosphere is accurate, nope, not at all.  In fact, much of the upcoming April 26 episode, expanded to a full ninety minutes (yeah!), will center around Adler's Karofsky, exploring the theme inspired by Lady Gaga's current smash hit "Born This Way."  And, from what I can tell, whether this season or next, the Karofsky story, according to series creator Ryan Murphy, will have a happy, although at this point, undetermined, ending.

Which got me thinking.  If I were a writer on Glee--and bearing in mind the impact it would have--what would I do with the Karofsky storyline?

First, like Murphy, I'd want it to have a happy ending.  Yes, I know, this character deserves to be put through hell, the same as we were back in high school.  But I'm not sure I'm up for revenge anymore. Is it even the point?  I've matured over the years, and I've realized nobody's story is ever easy.  In the process, I've developed compassion for the likes of Karofsky.  I mean, you have to feel sorry for the guy.  You do.

For that matter, when I think about it, I suspect we all have a little Karofsky in each of us.  Maybe that's a part of his appeal:  we see a little of him in us, but we see a little of us in him, too.  When you acknowledge that, dismissing people, or characters on TV shows--if they are developed well--becomes more difficult. Nobody is ever all black or all white.  There's lots of grey in between, which is the common ground we all share.

So let's talk about THE kiss.  What did it mean?  Did Karofsky simply have no more appropriate way of coming out to Kurt and demonstrating to him what they had in common?  Or was Karofsky genuinely attracted to him?  Fascinating, that. Imagine, a big, burly, high school jock attracted to the diminutive, flamboyant poof. Doesn't it give new meaning to the expression, opposites attract?

Would it be realistic for the writers of Glee to link Karofsky and Kurt together, especially since Kurt now attends the Dalton Academy and is about to be an item with Blaine (played by dreamboat Darren Criss)?  I suppose stranger things have happened. But in the real world, how would that work? How could a self-respecting--and, need I say, homophobic--football player end up with a boa-wearing, show-tune-singing, screaming flamer (cute as he is, of course)?

Would it be fair that Karofsky live a double-life:  By day, the rough, tough, homosexual-hating football jock; by night, Kurt's passionate snookie bear? Would we want that to happen?  Consider the message it would send to all the real-life jocks, scarcely able to keep the quivering doors closed on their closets, so frustrated are they having to hide their true selves. Would that be a fair tradeoff for Karofsky: here, you can have Kurt, but, guess what, you have to stay in hiding? Otherwise, we can't guarantee what will happen to you when your teammates, and the rest of the school, realize what you really are.

Whatever the case, how enticing would it be for the tormentor and the tormented to end up in a loving, long-term, committed relationship together?  What sweet, sweet revenge for those of us who faced the music every day of our lives in the public school system, who learned the meaning of hate when we looked into their evil, detestable faces.  Could I have ever in a million years turned my hate into love for one of my torturers?  Not bloody likely.  And the look on Kurt's face, when Karofsky threatened to kill him if he ever revealed his secret, told us he couldn't either.

But this is Glee we're talking about, not the real world.  And, if we've learned nothing, the Glee universe has it's own parallel reality, one in which bad things still happen, but so do miracles.    

(Disclaimer:  For the record, I realize Glee is just a TV show and is not reality.  I also realize it has a lot of potential to shape minds, depending on how it deals with some of the sensitive issues raised.  For this reason, I thought spending a little time on the character of Karofsky, and how his storyline rolls out, was worthwhile. I hope you enjoyed the post.)


  1. Interesting stats on your blog Rick... shows what a popular blogger you are! I'm sure the Karofsky post was well timed to catch all the interest generated by that episode. It was such a shocker for the audience, I can imagine everyone wanting to read about it and discuss it. I'm also looking forward to the April 26 episode (to overcome my withdrawal symptoms!). My first reaction to the character of Karofsky was that a gay man wouldn't act with such hostility. Even real life gay NFL players like Esera Tuaolo (a Samoan born in Hawaii), seem to be gentle giants off the field. But of course, the character is conceivable especially in a hyper homophobic environment. It would be great if Kurt and Karofsky could become friends, or Kurt could help him in some way, but I'm not sure if Kurt could start a relationship with such an unstable guy (and why would he give up Blaine!). Another character I am interested in now is Santana... I never liked her much until the last episode when she professed her love for Brittany and started wearing more "down to earth" styles. I also like Mike Chang, but I guess he's stuck as a supporting character... the Asian characters are hopelessly sidelined on American TV : )

  2. I'm so glad to learn you're a fellow Gleek, Doug.

    What I don't understand is how, months later, my original Karofsky post continues to be one of the most popular on my blog. Doesn't make sense to me, but I'm grateful for the attention.

    Yes, I agree about not being happy we haven't had an original episode of "Glee" in some time. I'm going through withdrawal, too. Can't wait to see everything in the last part of season two.

    About Karofsky being unstable, I think if he were finally able to be who he is, much of his anguish would disappear, and he'd settle more into himself. But, of course, the question is whether that could ever happen, since he's painted himself into a corner as a big jock around the school. Would he ever live it down if his teammates discovered he was gay? I doubt it, not in the world of the high school.

    So what could realistically happen between Kurt and Karofsky? No, I don't see them as a couple either, and I think Kurt and Blaine are far better suited to each other. But the idea of getting the small, effeminate, gay boy and the big, tough, gay football player together, in whatever capacity, fascinates me, and I believe many other viewers as well. For that reason, I can't wait to see what takes place on the April 26 episode.

    And Santana hasn't appealed to me much, but her bisexuality has made her very interesting. I'm anxious to see how her character develops over time, too.

    What a great bunch of characters the writers and producers have to work with. You couldn't ask for better. I envy them.

    As always, thanks so much for checking back and for taking the time to leave a comment.