In the episode, "Wheels," the members of the gLee club are ordered, or rather sentenced, to be confined to a wheel chair for at least three hours a day while at school. At first, I was like "LOL ROFL" because this "exercise" was supposed to create team unity as the other members did not show any concern for not having enough money to rent a wheel chair accessible bus so that one of their group member's, Artie, who is wheelchair bound could come. Yet when I watched the show again, the same feeling that I had when I saw the baldcaps on the T and Will Smith's fat suit on The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. It was supposed to be both a comedic as well as a teaching moment. I mean, at the end of the show, they sung Ike and Tina Turner's "Proud Mary" in wheelchairs, starting it off with Finn saying, "This one's for you Artie." I mean, they did a good job, but the feeling did not leave me. Were the wheelchairs more to help Mercedes, Rachel, Puck, Finn, and the others understand Artie's plight or just props or accessories for the group to use while performing? The inability to separate the two options from one another or even choose the former as the right question to ask shows evidence for my questioning of these "moments."
I ask again, what exactly is being said when we use other people's situation as teaching moments for privileged individuals. The directors had Artie seem enthusiastic about the fact that his friends will be joining him in being wheelchair bound. I am not sure exactly what his response is supposed to mean. As I argued in part I, "we must realize that we do not become who we pretend to be but also that who we pretend to be are real. It is the mismatch between the show of solidarity and the reality of the life of those individuals that I find most troubling. The insolence of understanding." One key example is the moment when Finn became frustrated with Quinn's constant nagging for money for the baby and mounting doctor bills, GOT UP out of his wheelchair and left Quinn and the others behind, invoking his latent, ever-present ability to walk.
To speak more generally, I think there is a difference between detailing the life experiences of others and walking a few days, in this case, hours in someone else's shoes and then reporting it as one's lived experiences. This may be a fine line, but I believe that it is a concrete line nonetheless. When we begin to speak of other's experiences as our own without questioning the distance that exists between oneself and others, we begin to get into murky waters.
*(Shani, Community is Good, but gLee is Definitely Way Better)