To FOX Concerning Glee's Use of Jonathan Coulton's Music

Subject: To FOX Concerning Glee's Use of Jonathan Coulton's Music
From: Elah
Date: 10 Feb 2013

Dear FOX Network,

It's come to light that, in a recent episode of your flagship show "Glee," you featured a performance of Sir Mix-a-Lot's "Baby Got Back". However, your performance was specifically modeled after a cover of the song by musician Jonathan Coulton. Mr. Coulton noticed this on his own; he was not at all given credit or even alerted that his work was to be emulated on broadcast television.

Multiple entertainment journalists and Internet users alike were appalled by this behavior, particularly at the response the FOX Network gave when Coulton lodged a complaint, which was not only rather snide but seemed to contradict the very values of generosity, diversity, and friendship upheld by "Glee" itself.

Granted, your response was not very surprising; it was what the public at large might expect from a corporate behemoth like FOX. However, I would argue that issuing a public apology to Mr. Coulton (and any other artists whose work you may have used in similar manner), EVEN WITHOUT ANY OFFER OF FINANCIAL COMPENSATION, is in the best interests of both Glee and FOX at large. I say this for a few reasons:

1st) AN APOLOGY WOULD BE A POSITIVE WAY TO DISTINGUISH YOURSELF AS A LARGE COMPANY. As mentioned previously, the "big four" TV networks are viewed just like any other big corporations are by default: as faceless and cruel entities who care only about accumulating yet more money, no matter at what cost to individual people. By issuing an apology, you can counteract this notion - you will show that you do care for "the little guys", that you aren't just extorting every legal loophole you can for more money, that you are a group of compassionate people, not a heartless monolith.

2nd) YOU WILL NOT LOSE VIEWERS BY ISSUING AN APOLOGY. IN FACT, YOU WILL GAIN MORE. No doubt this was at least an implicit argument behind the response that FOX did send Mr. Coulton. This argument might work for a singer who projects a "diva" image, who is admired for not letting anyone wound her pride. But Glee portrays itself and advertises itself as a "humble" show. Its characters are underappreciated and unpopular within their universe; the show advertises itself using a hand gesture actively associated with the term "loser", and the first season (at least) was filmed in a single-camera format, suggesting the idea of a project which has a low budget but whose cast, crew, and creators are fully invested in its content and ideals. An apology supports this image - particularly if issued over a public outlet to fans, like the show's official Facebook page or Twitter account. Any fan that actually cares about the show's message (and, judging from the typical dialogue among fans I've seen through the outlets mentioned above, the vast majority, if not all of them, do) then they will not only understand such a statement, but take it as a verification of the values espoused by Glee itself. An apology is also guaranteed to earn you positive publicity (thus far, only a humor website has posted an article that speaks about this controversy in any positive light), including from publications that don't necessarily cater to the average Glee viewer (remember, an apology would be an atypical move for the entertainment industry at large, making it bigger news than is confined to Glee's established sphere), potentially bringing in an even wider audience through curiosity.

3) YOU HAVE A READY-MADE EPISODE THAT CAN BE WRITTEN BASED OFF OF THIS CONTROVERSY. Think about it. At the start of the current season, you established that the remaining members of the titular glee club, having won the national championship, are now rubbing shoulders with the elite at their high school. One of the members hears another student perform an established song in a new, more interesting way, which they then suggest to the club. When the club publicly performs the song in the new style, the student who came up with the idea complains. The members of the club try to defend themselves but finally realize that the morally correct thing to do is to apologize for theft of intellectual property. You can fill the script with meta-humor that references the real-life controversy, earning you brownie points with television critics; you could even ask Coulton himself to make a cameo or guest appearance in the episode, which would not only be a further demonstration of your goodwill but would boost Glee's "indie cred", as Coulton is largely considered a niche or underground artist.

4) IF YOUR CURRENT STACE CONTINUES, YOU HAVE AT LEAST LOST ME AS A VIEWER AND SUPPORTER, AND DOUBTLESSLY MANY OTHERS. Glee has been a game-changer for both television and society at large for the last few years. I was a huge fan of the first couple of seasons, and was excited by the envelope-pushing narrative split of this new season. And believe me when I say that I am not the only fan of the show whose interests also encompass those that have alerted me to your altercation with Mr. Coulton. As much as the concept of a demographic may cause you to generalize your viewership, the millions of young-adult women that appear to make up your core audience are not ignorant, nor are they the entirety of your audience by a long shot. Glee's fans are as diverse as its characters, and by making the decisions you have over this case, you have not only turned off potential viewers but alienated current viewers. I, for one, would refuse to support any network or show that would allow itself to be so publicly hypocritical. And I am not alone.

I want to see Glee return to the fascinatingly offbeat and consistently standout show it first aired as. I would love to see it go on for several seasons and continue to be a force for equality and diversity. But honestly, given these events, I can no longer view the show as those things, and neither can many others. I implore you to apologize to Mr. Coulton. It's what the characters of your show would do; I beg you to follow their example.




I love the Glee show but I agree you need to do the right thing for us as the viewer to move on we waiting on your apologize