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GQ tarts up 'Glee' girls. Insert yawn of outrage here.

Gleecover Et tu, "Glee"?

A mildly pornographic slideshow of photos accompanying GQ's November cover story about "Glee" recently went up on the magazine's website, and the onslaught from parents groups has begun, with terms like "pedophilia" being used and renewed complaints that the show is too sexually explicit for the tween end of the audience it courts. In light of the show's rather self-congratulatory "some people want to do good" Team Project ads, the term "role model" -- so bizarre when it is connected to celebrities of any sort -- can be expected to come up.

But the problem isn't so much the sex as the sexism. And the disappointing banality of it all.

The photos feature Dianna Agron (Quinn), Lea Michele (Rachel) and Cory Monteith (Finn), kicking off with Monteith smiling his All-American smile while grabbing the scantily clad derrieres of two young women. So fresh. So daring.

Monteith is, of course, fully clothed. Not so his female costars, who bare their midriffs and decolletage, bras and panties, in thighs-spread, derriere-hoisted poses made more than slightly unsettling by their school-girl ensembles. Michele, in particular, seems to be auditioning for a live-action version of Japanese anime porn.

Of course, Agron and Michele are grown women who only play high school students, and there is some version of satire at work here -- the story "gleefully" references all the complaints from those uptight parental groups. But it's of the smug have-your-cake-and-eat-it-too variety. The result is not so much saucy and in-your-face as it is predictable and depressing -- oh look, more young women being asked to assume the position, this time complete with pom poms and lollipop. No doubt Agron and Michele did it to be sexy and playful, and were not at all manipulated by forces that have put generations of young women in precisely the same poses for precisely the same reasons -- to feed the fantasy, promote the show and sell magazines.

And that just makes it worse, doesn't it?

One assumes that Michele, whose poses are much more aggressively suggestive than Agron's, also wants a payoff for the hours she has clearly spent in the gym since the show premiered, or at least a bigger payoff than her recent Britney Spears number. And no one can blame a young actress for wanting to make it very clear that, the Broadway cred notwithstanding, she isn't a theater geek but a sexually attractive young woman who shouldn't be shoeboxed into Rachel roles.

But honestly, does a woman still have to strip down to panties and thigh-highs and straddle a bench to accomplish this? That's not titillating or provocative or even retro. That's just sad.

Also very telling. While the pictures do not affect the quality of the show itself, they do make one thing clear. "Glee," in case you were wondering after the CDs and the roadshow, is now a franchise, working its way into the American pop conscious and wallets with the same intensity of the Disney machine it once seemed determined to send up.

The good news about the GQ photos is that, unlike Miley Cyrus when she did those unfortunate "Vanity Fair" shots, these performers are all adults. The bad news is that the women decided to strip down anyway.

-- Mary McNamara

Photo: November cover of GQ. Credit: Terry Richardson / GQ

Comments () | Archives (29)

Who cares? This is a men's magazine. It's trying to sell magazines to men. You do this by showing scantily clad women.

The actors are not being forced to do this. They are being well paid, and want to do it. One look at photographs from Halloween in New York or a weekend at Burning Man reveals that some women enjoy looking sexy and will do so on their own accord.

The idea that this automatically makes such attire an act of exploitation is perhaps an incorrect reading. I don't argue that exploitation doesn't happen or that it wasn't more socially and violently pervasive in decades past in this country, but this isn't what's happening here.

what the.....? when i first saw this. i am very disappointed. Glee has gone too sad for me to watch now. The music is still very good. but the acting... sucks!!! what's up with Rachel's facial expressions when singing? The whole Rachel and Finn love is BORING!!!!! what happened to kurt who use to be fun? and santana britney making out? most of Glee audience are conservative. I dont know if they can understand that, especially the kids. I'm not as excited to watch it now and so are other huge fans of glee. They are over doing stuff... starting to suck guys.. just so you know.

Yes, it's for a men's magazine and yes, both Agron and Michele are adults, etc. etc. However, the whole idea is that these women play TEENAGERS and the photoshoot is set in a high school. I'm not surprised parents' groups are using pedophilia to describe this. I would too. I love this show, went to the concert and think Michele and Agron are awesome, but I agree with McNamara's assessment that this photospread is "sad." I don't totally blame the actresses, but more the photographer.

In response to Charlowe's comment, I completely disagree that most of Glee's audience is conservative. Where does one get this??? The majority of young adults lean more liberal and with at least 3 non-straight characters (Kurt, Brittany, and Santana), as well as it being a show about singing, it draws a very diverse audience, including a huge LGBT following.

"Pedophilia" is a stupid, somewhat hysterical phrase to use, since it describes attraction to *pre*-pubescent children, which the characters on Glee are definitely not. Of course the PTC and their ilk will do it anyway, because accuracy is the last thing they're interested in.

Then again, they hated Glee before this, since it has the audacity to portray gay characters in a positive way.

Oh jeez people, lighten up. "Karin" remarked, "Yes, it's for a men's magazine and yes, both Agron and Michele are adults, etc. etc. However, the whole idea is that these women play TEENAGERS and the photoshoot is set in a high school."

That's right, these ladies aren't teenagers; they PLAY teenagers, and whether it's shot in a real high school is irrelevant. The spread was shot during a break in production, all three subjects were out of character and none were forced to participate, and everybody's important bodyparts are covered.

GQ is a men's magazine, people. This is how they've been operating for several decades. Have you looked at a Playboy cover lately?

Michele's picture inside sittin' on the bench with her legs spread is gross. But not because of the position. It's because she's lost so much weight she looks anorexic. Her bare legs look like toothpicks -- all the way to the top. Yuck.

I don't think it is offensive as much as it is tacky. Whose bright idea was this and why did they think it was a good one? It's not as if GLEE needs the attention or the ratings so why go down this road? It kind of takes away from what GLEE is supposed to be about and turns it into something else completely.

This article and newscasts about it have probably increased sales two to three times....that's American success!

how did I know this was written by a woman before getting to the byline? Mildly pornographic? Sexism? If Monteith wore Speedo and spread on the bench along with the ladies,for GQ, a men's mag, would that balance the scales? Racey or in poor taste? Maybe. Pedophilia? Don't see the connection. Give it a rest, Right.

As a female high school student I find this photoshoot creepy, and this is not a problem I have with generally provocative photoshoots. The portrayal of these women as highly sexualised teenagers makes me uncomfortable about the way grown men view young girls. It's bad enough that men already view young girls in a sexualised way, but does this behaviour have to be encouraged?
It would have been fine if the women weren't dressed like schoolgirls, but the way it has been done makes the shoot seem perverse and inappropriate.

I would be fine with this photo shoot if it weren't so gender-unequal. Either put a bit more clothing on the ladies, or strip down Montieth, at least for one photo. I'd prefer equivalent objectification, because this has a vague "men have all the power" stink to it. He is fully clothed from head to toe in every shot, and Michele doesn't even get more than underwear. Pick one theme, clothed or not, and stick with it.

Plus, it's such a diverse cast. Bummer that they didn't show more of the actors/actresses.

"GQ is a mens magazine" so this makes it acceptable. If a man acted out this "fantasy" he would be in big trouble with the law. Kind of hypocritical of our pop media that we chastise adults that have love affairs with underage students, but we glorify it in TV and print. You're naive to think this is innocent and has no leverage in culture. cmon.

"most of Glee audience are conservative" Really?!? LOL. Honey- most of Glee's audience is gay! ;)

I suggest that the writer of the article take a look at some of GQs other photo shoots- the ones with shirtless ripped males- and see if her attitude still holds. I mean, sexism is sexism right?

Anyone who has their teens watching Glee without parental supervision in the first place is a complete lunatic. The show has many adult overtones. These are NOT kids and can pose in any magazines they want. I should hope we're all long past the "teen actors as role models" bit, and had THAT discussion with our kids long ago (maybe around the time Jamie Lynn got pregnant or Linds went into rehab for the first time?)

And if your teen isn't capable of understanding that an ADULT is ACTING in the part of a CHILD then you should not have them watching anything without a TV-G rating.


Everything will be made much better if Corey Monteith was shirtless.

If the producers thought using actors who are clearly, obviously adults to portray (not very convincingly) teenagers would insulate the show from squeals of "pedophilia", they were very much wrong. People who see smut see it everywhere - sort of like seeing Jesus in a grilled cheese sandwich.

Parents Television Council, the group that made the accusation, is run by L. Brent Bozell III. Bozell III is a long-time conservative culture warrior and since the LA Times omitted mentioning he was behind this, he gets even more free publicity. Get some facts and research up in here!

Facts and research. Available, free, on The Internet.

What is really sexist is implying that any woman who chooses to pose provocatively, or even nude, is somehow "sad." And the fact that she did it of her own volition makes it worse??

This is the classic double standard of feminism. The sexual liberation of women is both championed by feminists, but then criticized by the same feminists because when actually celebrated, it is seen as catering to men.

Well which is it?? Should women keep covered at all times and be demure? Or do they have every right to be sexual and provocative without judgement??

Make up your mind, you cant have it both ways.

let's face it...GQ is hiding behind the 'age' of the actors. It is a salute to child porn. Perhaps the editors of GQ don't have children, so it doesn't make sense to them

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