I’m complaining about Glee again. So what else is new?

Hey guys. I’m taking a break from working on finals. I’ve been told that I’ve been missed and I’ve been wanting to write this post for a while.

There are two versions of the song ‘America’ from West Side Story. The version from the 1957 Broadway musical and the version from the 1961 movie. Now, call me a snob if you like, but there hasn’t been a single movie version of a musical that I haven’t considered sub par after seeing (or even just hearing) the stage version.

Now there are always minor changes between stage versions and movie versions. Such as the Christmas Bells songs that were left out of the RENT film. Songs get left out, poor casting choices are made, plots get updated. I can deal with that, even if I end up preferring the Broadway version over the movie one. However when the changes to the music change the entire meaning of the song….well, I can’t put up with that for a second.

Especially not when it comes to this particular song, because the change in the message is far to awful to allow Glee to get away with it and not call them on it.

So I’ll let it out for you in case you don’t know what Murphy and his writer’s did.

Here is the 1957 lyrics.

ROSALIA
Puerto Rico,
You lovely island . . .
Island of tropical breezes.
Always the pineapples growing,
Always the coffee blossoms blowing . . .

ANITA
Puerto Rico . . .
You ugly island . . .
Island of tropic diseases.
Always the hurricanes blowing,
Always the population growing . . .
And the money owing,
And the babies crying,
And the bullets flying.
I like the island Manhattan.
Smoke on your pipe and put that in!

OTHERS
I like to be in America!
O.K. by me in America!
Ev’rything free in America
For a small fee in America!

ROSALIA
I like the city of San Juan.

ANITA
I know a boat you can get on.

ROSALIA
Hundreds of flowers in full bloom.

ANITA
Hundreds of people in each room!

ALL
Automobile in America,
Chromium steel in America,
Wire-spoke wheel in America,
Very big deal in America!

ROSALIA
I’ll drive a Buick through San Juan.

ANITA
If there’s a road you can drive on.

ROSALIA
I’ll give my cousins a free ride.

ANITA
How you get all of them inside?

ALL
Immigrant goes to America,
Many hellos in America;
Nobody knows in America
Puerto Rico’s in America!

ROSALIA
I’ll bring a T.V. to San Juan.

ANITA
If there a current to turn on!

ROSALIA
I’ll give them new washing machine.

ANITA
What have they got there to keep clean?

ALL
I like the shores of America!
Comfort is yours in America!
Knobs on the doors in America,
Wall-to-wall floors in America!

ROSALIA
When I will go back to San Juan.

ANITA
When you will shut up and get gone?

ROSALIA
Everyone there will give big cheer!

ANITA
Everyone there will have moved here!

This version of the song takes place between Rosalia and Anita. Anita loves living in the United States, Rosalie waxes nostalgic for Puerto Rico. It’s a simple conversation, easy to understand. Nothing even inherently racist about the content, just a disagreement between two immigrants with a different opinion of what country they want to live in.

Here’s the version from 1961.

ANITA (spoken)
Oh no! That is not true!

(sung)
Puerto Rico
My heart’s devotion
Let it sink back in the ocean!
Always the hurricanes blowing
Always the population growing
And the money owing
And the sunlight streaming
And the natives steaming
I like the island Manhattan

CONSUELO (spoken)
I know you do!

ANITA (sung)
Smoke on your pipe and put that in!

GIRLS
I like to be in America
OK by me in America
Everything free in America

BERNARDO
For a small fee in America

ANITA
Buying on credit is so nice

BERNARDO
One look at us and they charge twice

ROSALIA
I’ll have my own washing machine

CHINO
What will you have, though, to keep clean?

ANITA
Skyscrapers bloom in America

ROSALIA
Cadillacs zoom in America

TERESITA
Industry boom in America

BOYS
Twelve in a room in America

ANITA
Lots of new housing with more space

BERNARDO
Lots of doors slamming in our face

ANITA
I’ll get a terrace apartment

BERNARDO
Better get rid of your accent…

ANITA
Life can be bright in America

BOYS
If you can fight in America

GIRLS
Life is alright in America

BOYS
If you’re all white in America

ANITA and CONSUELO
Here you are free and you have pride

BOYS
Long as you stay on your own side

ANITA and CONSUELO
Free to be anything you choose

BOYS
Free to wait tables and shine shoes

BERNARDO
Everywhere grime in America
Organised crime in America
Terrible time in America

ANITA
You forget I’m in America!

BERNARDO
I think I go back to San Juan

ANITA
I know a boat you can get on! Bye bye!

BERNARDO
Everyone there will give big cheer!

ANITA
Everyone there will have moved here!

The lyrics, you may care to notice, are very different from the original Broadway lyrics. However, it is still a story of Puerto Rican immigrants disagreeing about whether America or Puerto Rico are better places to live. The women in this case believe that America is a great place where you can live free, become anything you want, accomplish anything, have a big house, and buy on credit.

The men don’t like it in America. They feel discriminated against, feel that their skin color and accent put them at a disadvantage and that they will never have the same opportunities as white Americans.

During that time period that was an assumption that would could understand. It was the 60s, a time when the fight for civil rights for African Americans was just getting under way. However you can still see that not everyone in a minority felt they had no chances. Some were more enthusiastic and hopeful about their position in society, even if not all were.

Here’s the song from the episode of Glee. Watch it carefully.

So what is the message of this version?

Oh right, I know.

America is OH SO RACIST!

The white characters (The Jets) sing the parts that are telling the Puerto Ricans that their accents and skin color will block them from having opportunity in America.

Ryan Murphy and his crew have been politicizing Glee more and more this season. From this little foray into using a popular musical to tell the world the whites don’t like immigrants (and this is clearly what this is, don’t deny it. Why else would they have changed who sang the different parts?) to Will Schuester glitter bombing (and we all know how I feel about Glitter bombing) Sue Sylvester near the beginning of this season…I honestly don’t know if I’m going to continue watching the show at this point.

I’m simply disgusted with this. It’s a blatant attempt to influence the viewers, most of whom are not even of voting age, to think a certain way. When it comes to spreading a message that bullying is wrong (and I don’t feel they do that effectively either) I’m fine with that, but when it comes to a blatantly biased and, more importantly, false political view…Murphy, I’m ashamed of you.

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4 Comments

  1. You have been missed first of all! lol
    And up until now I’ve been a die hard Gleek. But a few episodes I let it go. The politics behind the show are so unbelievably blatant. I have one friend that I would classify as an extreme liberal. EXTREME!! I try my hardest to avoid politics with her all together to be honest. But the more liberal the show gets the more she falls in love with it. She’s like my barometer for the show! haha!
    But yep, I caught the “white” comment which wasn’t in the Natalie Wood movie either. I’ve watched that about 1000 times. It’s been making me crazy all season and I finally said, that’s it. I’m sick of it. I don’t have time for a lot of TV anyway, but I definitely think my time can be spent better elsewhere!
    Good Luck with finals!!!

  2. White: bad. Any other shade of human: good. The message is we’re all hateful, spoiled, racists and should feel shame just for being alive. And liberals are at the top of the self-hating pyramid. In about 50 years we’ll be the minority, maybe sooner. Maybe Murphy, along with the producers of thousands of other daily anti-American, especially anti-conservative innuendo seen in culture and media are sucking up to who will eventually run America and Europe.

    You should send this post to Ryan Murphy in letter form, for the record.

    • Really? Should I? I didn’t even consider that. I’m glad you think so anyway ^_^

      That’s the truth though…I personally don’t care who is the minority/majority in the race game, because I judge people on their actions not their skin color or accent. I guess Murphy isn’t able to do that though.

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