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article imageGay group criticises Glee for its use of the word ‘tranny’

By Mathew Wace Peck     Nov 5, 2010 in Entertainment
The makers of a popular US comedy drama series have come in for criticism from gay campaigners for the use of the word “tranny” in one of its episodes.
In the past, Glee has been commended for its approach to LGBT issues. A gay character on the show often deals with challenges relating to coming out.
Last week’s episode, “The Rocky Horror Glee Show", featured a Rocky Horror Show theme that saw characters assume the roles of the popular 1970s Richard O’Brien musical.
The episode sees Mike (Harry Shum Jr) play Frank N. Furter – a transvestite character who dresses in stockings, high heels and lingerie – but drops the part when his parents say that he looks like a “tranny”.
The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) say that the word “tranny” is a “slur” and believe that another character from the series should have been seen to say so.
In a statement, published in Pink News, GLAAD said:
The casual manner in which the word was used is jarring, even if [Mike] may have been repeating what his parents said.
[The] inclusion of this slur is particularly alarming given last season’s powerful episode in which Kurt’s [Chris Colfer] father chastised Finn for using the word “f*g”. That episode sent a powerful message to the show’s young fanbase that words have power and they can hurt.
Unfortunately, the larger problem here is that the word “tranny” has become an easy punchline in popular culture, and many still don’t realise that using the term is hurtful, dehumanising and associated with violence, hatred and derision against transgender people – a community that is nearly invisible in media today.
Pink News also reports that the Rocky Horror Show episode has also been criticised for cleaning up some the most famous lines from the musical – such as the word “transsexual” being replaced with “sensational” in the song “Sweet Transvestite”.
Despite the controversy, according to overnight ratings, the episode had the highest US TV viewing figures for the evening. Billboard reports:
Glee's tribute to the "Rocky Horror Picture Show" scared up the highest rating on broadcast Tuesday night.
No surprise here: Glee (11.5 million viewers, 4.8 preliminary adults 18–49 rating) was steady with its last performance and led Fox to win the evening.
The Rocky Horror Show is a long-running British horror-comedy stage musical, which originally opened in London on 19 June 1973. It was written by Richard O'Brien, and developed by him in collaboration with Australian theatre director Jim Sharman.
In 1975, O'Brien adapted the play into a film, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, which was directed by Sharman. In the movie, Tim Curry plays Frank N. Furter, as he did in the original stage play. O'Brien plays Riff Raff, a part he played in the original stage version, and which Colfer plays in the Glee version.
More about Glee, Rocky horror show, Gay lesbian alliance against, Glaad, Pink
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