Thursday, October 21, 2010

Flashback Friday: Glee GQ Shoot: Naughty or Nice?


Welcome to Week Twenty-Four of Flashback Fridays where the old and new collide on everything from books to movies to first loves to favorite vacations. This week I'm taking a look at the Glee photo controversy.

So the entertainment industry is buzzing with news about the infamous Glee GQ photo spread. One the one side, Glee is a show beloved by teens and tweens and what kind of message does it send to them to see high schoolers so sexualized? On the other, it's the fact that all three actors are twenty-something adults posing for an adult magazine like GQ.

The Parents Television Council, in a statement from president Tim Winter, criticized the cover and spread Wednesday for hypersexualizing actresses who play high-school age students, saying the shoot with a high school backdrop "borders on pedophilia." While Dianna Argon, who plays Quinn Fabres, released a statement apologizing for the racy spread and said "the show's rooting-for-the-underdog sensibility wasn't echoed in the GQ photos and noted that although the concept of the shoot wasn't her favorite idea, she didn't walk away."

As a HS teacher, a lover of Glee, and a feminist, I thought this made a very interesting post for a YA writer.

Here's the cover. Notice how instead of showing off his pecs by going shirtless with a tie, or showing a little leg in a speedo, Cary Monteith is fully clothed--so much so compared to his cast mates he might as well be wearing a parka and scarf. Yeah, yeah, I know GQ is a men's magazine, but still.

Okay, I guess I should hold up for a second and not let my feminist ideals get the better of me. I mean, really, are the photos really that scandalous and "unrepresentative of high school". Let's take a look.

I mean, I'm not sure what the problem here is. Didn't we all pose seductively by our lockers while suggestively licking a lollipop and wearing panties?

And who didn't chillax around the locker room wearing a peek a boo bra and Christian Louboutin heels? The HS I attended was about 30 years old, and we had the nastiest locker room, and I wish our lockers had been that big. Freshman year, I ended up having my PE clothes stolen...who steals sweaty PE clothes? After I graduated, they built a new, state of the art gym.

When I was a cheerleader many years and pounds ago, our skirts were longer than our pom-poms, but this doesn't seem to be the case here. And we usually tried to throw some spirit fingers rather than angsty sex kitten poses. Yeah, and the shoes are totally not regulation, and the basketball coach would've yelled at us for messing up the floor. Plus, they're totally impractical for doing stunts.

Just an average day in class. I mean, when I was in high school, I totally ran around in bra, panties, and high heels while creating mayhem in class. And I could venture to say my classes look like this now. "Let's get CRAZY over Shakespeare!" Seriously, the only thing that resembles high school in this picture is the classroom itself.

*Once again notice how Cary looks like he's straight out of a Leave it to Beaver episode.

So, here's some food for thought. Let's Flashback to the 80's shall we with Pop Princesses Debbie Gibson and Tiffany. Man, what a difference a few decades make. They sold millions of records, sold out arenas, and gave us some pretty good tunes, right? And when I was searching for pics of them, not one appeared with cleavage, bare midriffs, jacked up skirts etc. Okay, yes, it did disappoint me greatly when I learned that both gals took it all off for Playboy in their late 20's and early 30's, but I guess I can give them props that they didn't do it in their teens.

So, I wanna hear what you think. Is it much ado about nothing? Is it a growing trend that is sexualizing young women too much, too soon? Is it a woman's body and her prerogative? Or is it teaching young women that the most important thing are looks and sex appeal rather than brains and ambition?


JEM said...

Sigh. I heard about this controversy earlier this week but didn't bother looking up the pictures. Knowing what I've seen of GQ I could guess what they looked like. What upsets me is that no matter what the age of these actors/actresses is, they are part of a show that is looked up to and adored by actual teenagers. The SHOW, even more than the actors, should have put a stop to this spread (and I mean that in more ways than one). They've worked hard to promote a squeaky clean image and this dashed all of that in a few glossy pages. And I will say, it looks like Lea Michele is enjoying that shoot a lot more than Dianna Agron.

Jill Hathaway said...

Wow, I'm really surprised by those pictures. I think if it was just one of them, I wouldn't think anything of it. But since it is several cast members, it's very obviously a GLEE shoot, and that doesn't mesh with my image of the show at all!

Leah said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

I'm sorry, but the only word that comes to mind when looking at those women is "slut". And I didn't like Glee all that much in the first place...

Kaitlin Ward said...

Honestly how I feel is that these women are adults posing for a magazine geared toward adult men. Lea Michele has already done scantily clad shoots for at least one other magazine (Vogue, maybe? I don't remember).
If this had never been made a controversy, teens wouldn't even see it. While I do see why this could upset people, I personally wish it would be...left alone.
I also hate hate hate hate hate HATE the oft made assumption that a woman dressing sexily=she's a slut. Is feeling sexy not empowering? I don't want to go on about that, but I wish our society could see things differently, sometimes.

J.S. Wood said...

I love seeing differing opinions in the comments.

I'm probably in the middle, opinion wise. It is a men's mag and I doubt a lot of younger people would've seen it. But I will say - after seeing the pics and never having watched the show - my conclusion is it's a very sensual show along the lines of a soap opera with lots of hook-ups and sexy people.

One must say it is great advertising. Look at how many people are talking Glee. From a marketing standpoint, it's brilliant.

Melissa said...

You're spot on. At first I thought, "Ho hum, another men's magazine sexualizing schoolgirls," but then I saw the photos. GQ defended itself by saying the actors are in their twenties (in contrast to the characters they play), as if the shoot removed them from the high school element of the show. Nope--all set in a school. (And did a school allow this shoot??) The whole concept is so boring and cliche, it makes me wonder who got paid for thinking it up. But the really scary thing is, I imagine young Glee fangirls seeing the photos and the fuss they're getting for being ultra-sexy, imitating the poses, and posting the photos online. Too easy.

Krista Ashe said...

Jem, Leah, couldn't agree mre. As a Feminist, I just hate to see any woman feeling like to be beautiful, admired, keep her popularity etc, that she has to whore herself out. Every female pop singer has to push the envelope with wearing less and less clothing to keep selling records. You've got girls like Lindsey Lohan and Miley Cyrus and Britney Spears. I mean, Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian weren't even on the scene until they're sex tapes were "leaked".

I just worry what kind of message we're sending to young women. Our schools are already lagging behind countries, and I can't help but feel it's because we place too much emphasis on appearance rather than smarts.

Jill, I feel the same way, and I don't think that's what the show should be perpetuating.

Melissa, you're spot on with what I was going for in the fact of young girls imitating this and getting themselves into trouble.

Kaitlin, yeah, I agree, but I think there's dressing "sexy", and then there's just slutty, lol. I mean, a sexy cocktail dress or showing some cleavage is way different than straddling a bench and having a full on crotch shot of your tighty whitey's.

Kaitlin Ward said...

While I totally understand that not everyone is up for posing in underwear in a magazine (I don't think I could!) I don't think it makes her slutty. Some people are comfortable wearing less. Some people are comfortable wearing nothing at all. Maybe these girls are doing it for the wrong reasons, or maybe they're not. We can't know, and how can we automatically assume they're slutty? If women do that to other women, how can we expect men not to?

I don't mean to be pushy & I respect everyone's opinion, but since I seem to be the only one who feels this way, I wanted to share my thoughts.

Krista Ashe said...

No, no, it's all cool! I wanted peeps to share their opinion. It's usually not a full on controversy unless people are expressing different ideals and all. And you're not being pushy, lol. And sometimes I border on feeling prudish/born in the wrong generation on things, lol.

And I'm totally with you on the posing in my underwear, even if I was considerably thinner.

Kara Mustafa said...

I'm more annoyed by the "what about the children!" angle to this than anything. Lea Michele starred in Spring Awakening, where she was basically naked and humping John Groff onstage multiple naked per week. I honestly think this photo shoot is tamed compared to that. I don't think she should be held to a higher standard now that she's on Glee-- after all, it's not a kid's show. It's on FOX at 8 PM, not the Disney Channel in the afternoon. It is an assumed risk letting kids 13 and under watch the show, just like it was when my parents let me watch Law and Order when I was 10. There's LOTS of sexual content on Glee to begin with (remember the "Like a Virgin" scene in the Madonna episode?) Or when Britney deflowered Artie two weeks ago? I just don't get why it's okay to let young children watch a show with mature subject matter and then rail at the actors for posing in their underwear.

Kara Mustafa said...

*Multiple times. Typo fail! Hehe.

Jamie said...

Totally agree w/ Kara here. My 8 year old daughter wants to watch Glee so bad because some of her friends do - NO WAY! I think the photo shoot was meant to be shocking - not sure what the point was though...unless just more buzz about Glee. If so, it worked.

Bárbara said...

I don't watch Glee. But it totally grosses me out when magazines geared toward men create a 'Lolita' feel and sexualize teens and tweens. I'm the first person to recognize that teens have way more sex than parents are prepared to admit, but one thing is to discover sexuality with someone on the same page as you, something very different is to have older men druelling if you happen to wear an uniform to school. Totally gross!

Richie said...

Sigh. What about this perspective? Has it ever crossed anyone's mind that the women "victimized" in TV/print advertising, TV shows/movies, mens magazines, etc receive compensation? This would all end if the women turned down the big payday. I seriously doubt the majority of them would do it for free publicity.