Friday, October 2, 2009

Nice guys finish jerks

For the Class of 2008, 2009 has been the year of the breakup. I've watched and contemplated as relationships across the board - both casual and serious - splintered and fell apart one by one. Dumper. Dumpee. Each individual has approached this life change in their own way.

Some cut the ties clean, packed up their lives and moved on. Others changed remarkably, carelessly flopping into the lurid opportunities of the singles scene, alienating those who knew them in their old skin. Then there are those who clung, with the best of intentions, to those who had departed - leaving an open and purulent wound.

It is the latter with whom I am concerned today. Breakups are traumatic events. Changing that proverbial "Facebook status" in your brain requires mental adjustment. Realigning your heart, your mind, and your life requires time, and it requires space. Thus, it was to my chagrin as I watched friends prematurely jump the friend-wagon - watched as dumpers moved on without them, hurt them, accused them, and fought with them. In the end, the dumpee comes out predictably ravaged, unwilling to consolidate their bitter experiences into ultimate truth - that their "nice person" of a friend has not been so nice... that they needed space away.

It's easy to be confused. People can be earnestly nice in their everyday lives, in their intentions, and in their very aura. Yet despite these overall pleasantries, it's the darker moments that we often fail to consider.

Skip five episodes into this year's television hit Glee to find the point illustrated elegantly. Let me recap the show's current web of lies: Football star-cum-singer Finn Hudson has joined the high school choir, affectionately known as Glee. Meanwhile, his cheer captain girlfriend, Quinn Fabray (I know, the double-N names are popular) got herself knocked up by Finn's best friend but has convinced him that he's the father (I wonder if someone will eventually tell him that hot tubs don't facilitate sperm swimming, but rather spermicide). At the same time, choral superstar-cum-social reject Rachel Berry has quit the Glee club to pursue other opportunities.

Finn nearly has a panic attack envisioning a future as a teenage father flipping burgers in a trailer park for the rest of his life and sets his goals on a college scholarship to propel him into the future and a life as a capable provider. His vehicle to said scholarship? Glee. But how can Glee make it to the top without Rachel? Finn takes it upon himself to use Rachel's public crush on him to woo her back to Glee.

Enter the smooth criminal. Finn slithers in and approaches Rachel with a smooth, easy tone, tempting her to meet him in "places with low lighting" and asking her out on a little bowling date together. He puts the moves on steadily, holding her hand as she learns how to bowl, offering affirmation all the way... and when she caves in and lays a wet one on him, he quickly moves in for the kill - Please, Rachel, come back to Glee. I have a girlfriend, and I don't know what's going to happen in the future, but I just know I want to see more of you right now.

Rachel, blinded by football-boy's charismatic charm is quick to oblige. But when the poorly-kept secret of Quinn's pregnancy goes viral, Rachel explodes, and Finn's manipulation falls apart.

So Finn's a jerk. What's my point? The point is that Finn is not the show's jerk. He's the nice one. He will forever be the nice one. Despite the craftiness which he employed in his elaborate ruse to twist Rachel's heart into rejoining Glee, Finn is the good guy. The show makes this amply clear. They do everything to keep his face soft, his demeanour kind, and his other actions saintly. And of course, it's Quinn's lie that is driving his actions. He's the victim here. You can't blame the victim. When all is said and done, nobody will be holding a grudge against Finn for his actions, especially not the audience. The show won't let them. And in that way, I feel used - my emotions toyed with... because no matter how nice Finn Hudson is, his actions were low.

So here's the point: Nobody will hold Finn Hudson as a jerk. He's simply not written to be that guy. He's the nice guy. But if we stop an think about it - if we freeze frame in Episode 5, before the writers can apply their magical Tide-to-Go on Finn's Episode 6 persona, we'll see that Finn really is a jerk. Nice guys ought to still have standards when the chips are down. The jerks we can do without.

"Are you using this as an analogy for my mind?"

"Yes, I sort of am."


Riona55 said...

ouch..but I needed it.

thankss! =)

Jerry said...

I guess a partially disturbing thought for me is that I, for the most part, consider myself a "nice guy". However I agree with you in that nice guys are selfish sometimes too, and in the context of relationships, can do jerkish things because of their selfishness.

Hence it makes me worried that I may be a Finn Hudson one day to someone else...despite my good looks and intentions, and me being a "nice guy".

What is my prescribed Tx? Start watching Glee and learn from Finn, and maybe, just maybe, find that "Rachel" in my life (hot interior underneath an ugly exterior)

...but wait, I believe your next post may force me to think twice about this...

a_ndy said...

Well, every nice person has a little bit of meanness to them. To a certain extent, that's a bit fun too. But like I said, there still need to be standards. There are lines to cross that, to many people, would be less than forgivable. Those lines bound civilized behaviour.

Btw, I think the Cinderella usually has a hot exterior too, it's just hidden under a poor do-up.