Sunday, December 12, 2010
Everyday Heroes: Sue Sylvester
Generally when I write a blog post about one of my everyday heroes it is about a real life human being that has touched my life in some significant way. Most often the person I write about has no idea that I consider them an everyday angel. Today, not only am I writing about someone with whom I have never communicated, the person that is today's Everyday Hero isn't a real human being.
That's how Sue sees it.
Sue Sylvester, for those of you that have been sealed up in a cave with Osama Bin Laden somewhere in Kandahar for the last two years, is the role in Glee played by comedienne Jane Lynch. I have been a fan of Jane's work since the first time I saw Best in Show. The woman is a tremendous actor, and her dry delivery and comedic timing are flawless. I could watch Jane Lynch, Parker Posey, and Jennifer Coolidge discuss the fat content of a Nutri-Grain bar and probably rupture something internally from laughing.
In Glee, Sue is the woman that we love to hate. She is the arch-nemesis of the Glee Club, and her one aim in life is to the Supreme Commander and Boss of Everyone. When the show started, I was worried that her character would become a caricature. She seemed to be on the fast track to one dimensionality, and her role in the program was quickly becoming something like that of Old Man Withers from Scooby Doo. No matter what form the plot took, you knew, at the end, that when they pulled the mask off of the Abominable Swamp Monster inside you would find dried up Old Man Withers.
Boy oh boy oh boy did Sue Sylvester fool the hell out of me. Just when you thought she couldn't possibly do anything to prove that she actually has a soul, without losing any of her acerbic egocentricity, would show such a depth of compassion and incisive grasp on the human condition that for a moment (a brief brief moment), you actually forgave her for any of the other loathsome things that she has done and will do again.
I chose Sue as my Everyday Hero while watching the end of the latest episode of Glee. Sue, in grand Sue style, dresses up as the Grinch and steals the Glee Club's Christmas. It wasn't the well acted single line moment at the end that moved me to write this but something I realized about Sue in general.
Sue is the six year old inner child in us. Just as children can be absolutely and utterly cruel and self-centered, they retain a basic grasp of right and wrong that when piqued comes out in such a direct, forthright, and poignant way that it forces us to step away from our "grown up selves," and take a good look back at a time when all we really wanted from the world was to be loved, to be valued, and to be heard. It was when I felt that I was lacking in one of those areas that I would show out and do what it took to get the attention that I needed. Yet, it was all done within a moral framework that was simple, direct, and fairly uncompromising: sharing is good, hitting is bad, loving is good, being mean is bad, pick on kids your own size and put things back from where you got them.
Watching this latest episode of Glee, Sue reminded me that even though we leave our childhoods behind, we don't ever lose the need to be loved, valued and heard. We learn that we can't drop to the floor of Target and kick and scream when something doesn't go our way, so we get a whole new bag of adult ways to act out, but, in the end, it's the same process attempting to have the same needs addressed. Sue'a process is just a little more obvious than the rest of ours.
So, I am naming Sue Sylvester as my Everyday Hero. Thank you Sue for reminding me that big kids are just little kids in grown up bodies.