T&A: 'Talent and Ambition,' Says GQ

Sunday, October 31, 2010 / 1:50 AM

Three Glee cast members recently participated in a GQ photo shoot for the magazine's latest issue that the Parents Television Council is up in arms over, saying that it "borders on pedophilia." The three actors, Cory Monteith, Lea Michele and Dianna Agron, are all young Hollywood twentysomethings on one of the most popular television shows in the country. Glee has been described as a better and less kid-friendly version of High School Musical, and this GQ shoot takes "less kid-friendly" to a whole new level.

GQ's photo shoot has the three stars posing in a high school setting. Monteith, who plays the jock-turned-Broadway-star Finn, is the least noticeable on the pages. From playing the drums in a letterman jacket or sporting a sweater and tie combo, Monteith plays up a boyish charm that is reminiscent of his character on the show. Agron and Michele, however, are another story. Their GQ photos present them as the opposite of what their characters on the show are - something that the Parents Television Council is unhappy about. Throughout the pages of the November issue, Agron and Michele are photographed in very high heels, knee socks, skirts and push-up bras. They pout and laugh at the camera, throwing pompoms up and sucking on lollipops. It's juvenile and meant to mix the idea of innocence with fantasy - a schoolgirl fantasy, if you will. But Agron and Michele are very much adults. Shouldn't their images be their own to control?

Some companies think otherwise though - their stars represent their brand and therefore have to be extra careful about what they do on their off-time. Most notable example? Disney and their network stars (see Miley Cyrus's latest music videos: "Can't Be Tamed" and "Who Owns My Heart"). But Cyrus is no longer with Disney. Does that matter when millions of young girls all over the world still see her as Hannah Montana? It seems to matter to parents, at least.

But Disney is Disney. Glee is Glee. And GQ is GQ. As NPR points out in a recent blog post, "Half-naked women are nothing new, and all you have to do is look at a selection of covers to see that much." And it's true - take a look. All the men on GQ covers are classy and covered up (except you, Johnny Depp), but all the women are barely covered up. Then again, it is GQ, which stands for Gentlemen's Quarterly and is a monthly magazine for men. Aren't they just trying to reach their target audience?

Of course, this is a commentary on society as a whole and the images we value today. The "women are objectified in the media" discussion is nothing new. "Pinup perfect" is how E! Online described Michele's pose by the lockers. It can be argued that Agron and Michele are both beautiful young women who are merely showing the world how comfortable they are with their bodies. It can be turned into a positive message...But Agron has since come out and apologized, writing on her Tumblr, "Nobody is perfect, and these photos do not represent who I am."

It's when this image is seen as ideal and pushed on society that it becomes a major problem. Take Halloween for example. "Halloween is the one night a year when girls can dress like a total slut and no other girls can say anything about it," narrates Lindsay Lohan's character Cady Heron from the 2004 film Mean Girls. And it's true. Ever walk into a Halloween party feeling overdressed in jeans and a tank top? Women are expected to dress or act a certain way in order to be attractive or appealing or worthy of attention. And let's be honest: we all make judgments based on appearances.

Is there a "solution" then? Should all celebrities think twice in case their modeling choices lead to negative reinforcing of stereotypes? Should magazines like GQ be more mindful of a potentially younger audience? Should we all just stop caring and continue dressing how we want, regardless of what the persistent media tells us? I'd like to answer "yes" to the last question and, in fact, I myself will keep on ignoring how magazines and TV shows and Hollywood tells me I "should" be dressing.

For more photos from the GQ shoot, visit GQ's official site and view the slideshow here.

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  1. It's easy to forget that these actors are in their 20s. It's like forgetting the cast of the original Beverly Hills 90210 were actually adults, and being shocked that one of them even was a parent in real life. We see the Glee "kids" as high school students and then are horrified to see them so sexified in another setting. But you swap the girls out with actresses their age who don't play high schoolers on TV, and it's suddenly OK.

    Of course, this doesn't mean that I condone the stereotypes and pressures of the media...

    As for GQ being mindful of a potentially younger audience...it's the parent's responsibility to be the gatekeeper in that situation. Every magazine has its demographic, and it's not their responsibility to cater to everyone who could *possibly* get a hold of an issue.