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Movie Review

You know the energy buzzing through a crowd before a big show? The crush of fans. The electric anticipation. Now imagine that audience consisting entirely of Gleeks.

A Gleek, for the uninitiated, is a hard-core fan of the Fox TV series Glee. The event, for those who haven't heard, is Glee: The 3D Concert Movie. And there's a couple of twists thrown into this performance. Instead of a solo singer (like Justin Bieber) or band (like U2) pounding through their latest and greatest music, this concert consists of actors assuming the rolls of singers who cover other people's music. Spliced into that semi-fictional environ is footage of real-life Gleeks gushing about how much the show has influenced their lives.

So beyond Finn, Kurt, Blaine, Artie, Rachel, Mercedes, Santana, Brittany et al (teenagers played by grown-ups), we meet real teens Josey (an anxiety-driven Asperger's syndrome sufferer), Janae (a little person who is a high school cheerleader) and Trenton (who's recently informed his family and friends that he's gay).

Call it a concert. Call it a Gleekumentary, Call it straight-up marketing for Fox. But don't count it out. And read on to see how it underscores just how much entertainment matters and how much it influences its fans.


Positive Elements

Janae shows us that messages of inclusion can be a great thing. It's OK to be little. It's OK to be different, her story screams out triumphantly. It's possible to be popular and different, and it's great to reach out to those who are unlike you. Janae says that even she, someone who is constantly being judged and considered different, has learned through Glee not to negatively judge others' abilities and worth.

Josey says that before watching the show she had few friends and mountains of social anxiety. But since finding a common bond with other fans, she now enjoys entertaining in her home and sharing series-centered friendships.

A smattering of songs call out the benefits of the strength and beauty of love, trying to stay upbeat when life is difficult, believing that you have individual worth, looking for value in our differences and holding on to your dreams.

Spiritual Content

There's an offhand reference to Jesus in the lyrics of Jay-Z's "Empire State of Mind."

Sexual Content

Brittany talks about how amazing her breasts will look in 3-D. After touching his Mohawk haircut (which he says "gives the ladies something to grab onto"), Puck suggestively says he's popular with mothers and points to his groin, adding that he'd like to get more women to the "Puckerman Zone."

The cast dances suggestively in revealing costumes several times. Guys and girls grab their crotches. Girls shake their backsides and breasts. Tops are low-cut. Short skirts flip up to show off underwear. (The camera often looks up at them from below stage level.) One number features skimpy S&M-inspired leather, and Brittany wears little more than a bikini while simulating Britney Spears' sexual choreography during "I'm a Slave 4 U." Michael Jackson's "P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)" and Queen's "Fat Bottomed Girls" both get a workout.

The Warblers (a rival glee club on the TV show) sing Katy Perry's "Teenage Dream," which includes the lyrics "Let's go all the way tonight/No regrets, just love/ … I'ma get your heart racing in my skintight jeans/Be your teenage dream tonight/Let you put your hands on me in my skintight jeans." "Don't Stop Believin'" also celebrates premarital sex, as does "I'm a Slave 4 U," which hypes being in emotional and sexual bondage.

Lady Gaga's unofficial theme song for gay pride "Born This Way" shows up at the concert's climax. To sing it, Kurt dons a "Likes Boys" T-shirt (which we also see on Trenton). Somebody in the audience says that her young daughter loves the gay characters Kurt and Blaine so much she wants them to be her two dads.

Violent Content

A "smackdown" is humorously mentioned after someone is said to have flirted with Blaine, Kurt's boyfriend.

Crude or Profane Language

God's name is misused two or three times. "D‑‑n" and "h‑‑‑" are heard in song lyrics. Gwyneth Paltrow sings Cee Lo Green's "F**k You," substituting "forget you" for the titular obscenity.

Drug and Alcohol Content

Brittany jokes about drinking the medication Latisse to make her eyelashes grow faster. A Glee episode titled "Blame It on the Alcohol" is briefly referenced, and wine is mentioned on the song "Don't Stop Believin'." The Warblers sing P!nk's "Raise Your Glass," an anthem to getting drunk and partying.

Other Negative Elements

Presented as cute, YouTube-like video footage shows a very young boy dressed in a Warbler suit jacket and tie singing and dancing along with a televised Glee episode in which the guys perform a sexually themed song. "Loser Like Me" lauds shaking off a bully, but it also revs up revenge with lyrics about getting back at him later in life.


Glee co-creator Ryan Murphy recently told deadline.com, "I've gotten death threats, yes. I have. I think anytime you shine a spotlight on homosexuality or minorities and you try and say they are as normal or as worthy of acceptance as others, the people who are on the fringe don't like that and they will come after you. And they have come after me. I think it's such a great show for young kids. The values of it, I think, are great."

It's from a position of high moral ground, then, that Glee glams up the messages of individual self-worth, acceptance of differences … and homosexuality. Again and again eager fans echo the fact that Glee has tremendously influenced their lives for the better. It's inspired them to view the social fringes—the outcasts and nerds, if you will—in a more compassionate light. And because the show depicts how everyone is different in some way, fans also speak of experiencing greater self-esteem. It's given them a voice when they had none before and taught them that social, emotional, physical and cultural differences are to be celebrated, not ridiculed or shunned.

So is it true that entertainment does actually influence us, just as Plugged In has been preaching for so many years?

And if that's now been firmly established by all involved parties, can we talk honestly about what, exactly, Glee: The 3D Concert Movie is influencing us to think? And do? Some of the values Glee dispenses are great. Accepting others' emotional and physical differences is fantastic. Depicting how diverse groups can foster a community of friendship, trust and fun is also a huge plus. But what about the super-sexy exhibition from these performers who, remember, are ostensibly still in high school? What about them acting out Britney Spears' S&M fantasies onstage? What about the embrace of casual sex by fistfuls of other songs? What about the drumbeat of homosexual acceptance—for kids as young as middle school?

The stated goal of Glee's producers is tearing down what they consider to be prejudices and intolerance by making homosexuality shine. And along with it any other sort of sexual choice tweens and teens want to pursue.

And you just can't isolate that influence from the others.

Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

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Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews




Readability Age Range



Cory Monteith as Finn Hudson; Heather Morris as Brittany Pierce; Chris Colfer as Kurt Hummel; Darren Criss as Blaine Anderson; Kevin McHale as Artie Abrams; Dianna Agron as Quinn Fabray; Lea Michele as Rachel Berry; Amber Riley as Mercedes Jones; Naya Rivera as Santana Lopez; Mark Salling as Noah 'Puck' Puckerman; Gwyneth Paltrow as Herself


Kevin Tancharoen ( Fame)


20th Century Fox



Record Label



In Theaters

August 12, 2011

On Video

December 20, 2011

Year Published



Meredith WhitmoreSteven Isaac

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

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