Glee Project’s unconvincing anti-bullying video

The Glee Project‘s music video challenges are one of its best components; watching them be constructed is interesting, and on their own, they sometimes rise to a level that transcends the original song. They can even be truly artistic.

For Tuesday’s “Vulnerability” episode, the cast discussed being bullied–or bullying others–and then acted out various bullying scenarios to R.E.M.’s “Everybody Hurts.” It was, in the grand tradition of Glee, overwrought and overly sentimental, and for me, didn’t have anywhere near the impact of last year’s “Vulnerability” episode video. That produced a cover of “Mad World” that was haunting and far more subtle–even though the contestants were wearing actual labels. It did a more effective job of illustrating how people are shunned thanks to who they are. (Both videos are below.)

For the episode, which cheated its ending like last year’s finale, Oxygen partnered with The Bully Project, which was created by the documentary film about bullying in schools, Bully. (That film initially received an R rating for its language, meaning the kids under 17 who perhaps most needed to see it wouldn’t be able to.)

Bullying is, of course, awful and unacceptable, and it’s great for a show that reaches teen audiences to message about how damaging bullying is. But I wonder how effective this message is when they’re trying so, so hard to force that message.

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