gLee about the pubLic sphere

When something ruffles our feathers or excites us we ‘tweet’ for joy, expressing our opinion via social networking, the 21st Century public sphere. What is the public sphere? In plain English it’s a space where citizens debate common concerns (below image includes more detail).

The sphere

In McKee’s ‘Introduction: The public Sphere’ he stated it had become “too trivialized, commercialised, fragmented and causing citizens to become too apathetic to important public issues”.

public sphere image

As a result we are becoming lazy and passive citizens and disconnecting ourselves with politics and the government:

Media result quote

Tabloids and gossips magazines have become the new ‘mediated’ public sphere, as McKee says a place where we find out:

what is the use of sphere

Previous access to the public sphere was controlled in terms of the technology greatly affecting the audience’s social participation however social platforms such as twitter and Facebook have allowed audience to have more control over what they consume and their capacity to interact.

One show that has sparked mass controversy is Fox’s Glee, a musical comedy spanning over 4 seasons (83 episodes) and counting.


The show introduces and debates social issues such as:

– Teen pregnancy, underage drinking, texting while driving
– Sexual preferences :Gay, lesbian, transgender
– Domestic violence and bullying
– Discrimination again race and disability
– Religion and Economic status
– Plus the usual teen anxieties such as popularity, control, autonomy, and discernment.

While the show has more entertainment value it does expose its viewers to these issues and subtly educate and discuss these hot topics as the episode addressing domestic abuse aired while the Violence Against Women Act was being debated for renewal in Congress, the show commenting as the victims states: “I was shocked, I was ashamed, so I made excuses for myself to make it okay. And I heard you girls say that you thought your boyfriends would never do anything to you like that. And a week ago, I would have said exactly the same thing.”

The show has a reputation as a socially-conscious and cutting-edge program, integrating social issues and educating the mainstream, changing popular culture and forever defined not by their musical numbers and duets but through the aspect of representative media.


4 thoughts on “gLee about the pubLic sphere

  1. While I think Glee is incredibly awful in almost every way, I do agree with your final point that it does raise certain social issues and get people talking or at least looking at different issues, which you’ve carefully outlined. The issue I have greatly is the lack of maturity or understanding the show brings to those issues. They still have incredibly judgemental notions regarding certain issues and I feel that some of their audience may be too young to understand the satire that some of the characters speak from. The show rarely gives a non-stereotyped or clichéd answer to some of it’s more racy issues and doesn’t deal with certain issues due to the “Hollywood” style looks of some of the actors and actresses. If you want real teenagers going through real issues in a real high school setting that people can relate to, check out Freaks and Geeks.


    1. That is so true I do think that it sometimes is a little in your face and in a way crude and immature when it comes to handling certain issues but it is a great foundation for opening the discusion between parents and children when it comes to these issues. Thanks


  2. Great Post! Love the example of ‘Glee’. Glee is an appropriate example as you mentioned, because it is screened mainly for entertainment purposes, but it does subtly highlight issues such as sex, pregnancy, violence, bullying and religious status. Great Job!


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