You’re a couple of great-looking, talented young actresses on the hottest show on TV. You’re adults. So why NOT pose for some seriously saucy photos in GQ, a magazine for adult men?Well, it gets a little thorny when the show is “Glee,” beloved by 8- and 9-year-olds, and when you’re posing as a high-school girl in nothing but skimpy panties, spreading your legs sky-wide on a locker room bench. Or suggestively licking a lolly as you lean – in the same skimpy panties – on a high-school locker.
Did the stars of “Glee” go too far? That’s what critics and fans of the show have been debating as the photo spread in GQ’s November issue, featuring Lea Michele (the ambitious Rachel) and Dianna Agron (Quinn, the once-pregnant cheerleader), started circulating this week. Oh yes, male co-star Cory Monteith (the quarterback Finn) is in there, too – but he remains clothed (in fact, he’s practically bundled up.) “I just wasn’t impressed at all,” said a disapproving Emily Martin, a mother in Ontario, Canada, and a self-professed “huge Glee fan.”"I guess I just don’t understand why they chose to even pose for these photos in the first place,” Martin wrote in an e-mail message. “I don’t get what they hope to gain by putting themselves out there like that.” Her feelings were echoed by commentators as prominent as CBS anchor Katie Couric. “I’m a Gleek,” Couric said in her online video “Notebook,” describing how she and her 14-year-old daughter enjoy watching the show together. But she decried the photos, particularly Michele’s spread-eagle one, as “raunchy” and “un-Glee-like,” and concluded: “I’m disappointed.” “Utterly tone-deaf,” chimed in Salon.com. “An explosion of cliched fetishism not seen outside the cheap Halloween costume aisles,” wrote EW.com. Not surprisingly, though, the harshest commentary came from the Parents Television Council. “It borders on pedophilia,” said Tim Winter, president of the council. He called the spread a “near-pornographic display” – especially the “full-frontal crotch shot.”
As for GQ, which is enjoying a burst of publicity, it took issue with the pedophilia reference – pointing out that Agron and Michele are 24, and Monteith is 28. “I think they’re old enough to do what they want,” said GQ’s editor in chief, Jim Nelson. In an e-mail to The Associated Press, Nelson elaborated: “I don’t think it will surprise anyone that we knew what we were doing,” he wrote. “I think most people will take the pictures with the wink and spirit of fun in which they were made.” Nelson added: “What we wanted to celebrate in the shoot and the story is (the show’s) playfulness, its wicked sense of fun, the clever way it plays with its self-awareness. And it doesn’t hide from it sexual suggestiveness.” No question about that. “Glee,” which airs at 8 p.m. Eastern on Fox, frequently deals with mature themes: Teen pregnancy, homosexuality, the loss of virginity. Some parents bristled last season at a scene where Finn ejaculated in a hot tub. And this season, the cheerleaders Santana and Brittany were not only shown making out on a bed – one of them referred to a hard-core lesbian sex act.
And yet, in a dilemma for parents, kids as young as 8 and 9 adore the show, drawn in by its wonderfully energetic and witty musical numbers. For them, it’s a much cooler, hipper “High School Musical.” If one had any doubt as to the youthfulness of the fan base, they need only have witnessed the legions of squealing tweens at last spring’s “Glee” concert tour. The show’s creators didn’t quite expect that at first”We didn’t know 9-year-olds would like it so much,” co-creator and executive producer Brad Falchuk told the AP in May. “We didn’t know the geriatric set would like it so much, either. I wish we knew how we did it.”