GQ tarts up ‘Glee’ girls. Insert yawn of outrage here.


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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