Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Glee in GQ: Final Words

I really, really did not want to write another entry on Glee's GQ cover. I didn't.

But, here I am, shelving whatever worry I may have about beating a dead horse and plunging right back into this whole mess.

There are two new developments in this "scandal" that I want to address.

Firstly, the Parents Television Council has officially denounced the GQ cover, saying "it isn't good for families."

“It is disturbing that GQ, which is explicitly written for adult men, is sexualizing the actresses who play high school-aged characters on ‘Glee’ in this way. It borders on pedophilia. Sadly, this is just the latest example of the overt sexualization of young girls in entertainment." - PTC President Tim Winter

Well, yes and no. I'd actually say close but no cigar - if you pardon a Freudian gender pun. The thing about sexualizing the actresses? It's not pedophilia. The actresses are 24-year-old young women capable of making their own decisions about their sexuality. The issue is not their age. The issue is that they are represented in a way that the man in the shoot is not. Surprisingly, the PTC brings this up in their press release, but it almost seems like an afterthought.

Interestingly, the photos of the male character showed him wearing a shirt, tie and vest.

This sentence amuses me, for all the wrong reasons. "Interestingly!" I can't help but imagine a scientist peering over his lab results, teetering on the verge of a Very Important Breakthough Discovery and then hearing the kettle and shuffling off, forgetting everything. It's not "interesting," PTC. It's really the strongest leg to stand on if you want to argue against the photoshoot and you just waffle right by it.

Most people are bringing up the argument that children should not be reading GQ anyways, and I have to agree. It's an obvious, logical counterpoint. So is the point that America's Puritanical roots are showing and it's getting eye-roll-worthy. It's just frustrating that the PTC decided to fire at the issue, but aimed slightly left of target. And now it's plastered everywhere that this cover is ruining America's families and it's too raunchy and Glee is sending terrible messages to the nation's youth.

Sigh. I think most parents would find that Glee, as a television show, sends a lot of excellent messages to young people about identity, self-acceptance, and tolerance of differences. Everyone's just hung up on the sex. Not gender issues, or issues of equality. It's just the sex. (This is an appropriate place for a *headdesk* moment.)

Secondly - the lovely Miss Dianna Agron, whose participation in the shoot has been endlessly discussed (but surely not as much as Lea Michele's), has stepped forward with a statement. And I'm going to quote it entirely below, because the whole thing is worth a read and also I love her.

I’d like to start by saying that these are solely my thoughts on the November issue of GQ and the controversy that has surrounded its release. I am not a representative of the three of us, the show, or Fox, only myself.

In the land of Madonna, Britney, Miley, Gossip Girl, other public figures and shows that have pushed the envelope and challenged the levels of comfort in their viewers and fans…we are not the first. Now, in perpetuating the type of images that evoke these kind of emotions, I am sorry. If you are hurt or these photos make you uncomfortable, it was never our intention. And if your eight-year-old has a copy of our GQ cover in hand, again I am sorry. But I would have to ask, how on earth did it get there?

I was a very sheltered child, and was not aware of anything provocative or risque in the media while I was navigating through my formative years. When I was finally allowed to watch a movie like Grease, I did not even understand what on earth Rizzo was talking about!? I understand that in today’s world of advanced technology, the internet, our kids can be subject to very adult material at the click of a button. But there are parental locks, and ways to get around this. I am twenty-four years old. I have been a pretty tame and easy-going girl my whole life. Nobody is perfect, and these photos do not represent who I am. I am also not the girl who rolls out of bed with flawless makeup and couture clothing. I am most comfortable with my hair thrown on top of my head, in sweats, laughing with my friends. Glee is a show that represents the underdogs, which is a feeling I have embraced much of my own life, and to those viewers, the photos in GQ don’t give them that same feeling. I understand completely.

For GQ, they asked us to play very heightened versions of our school characters. A ‘Hit Me Baby One More Time’ version. At the time, it wasn’t my favorite idea, but I did not walk away. I must say, I am trying to live my life with a sharpie marker approach. You can’t erase the strokes you’ve made, but each step is much bolder and more deliberate. I’m moving forward from this one, and after today, putting it to rest. I am only myself, I can only be me. These aren’t photos I am going to frame and put on my desk, but hey, nor are any of the photos I take for magazines. Those are all characters we’ve played for this crazy job, one that I love and am so fortunate to have, each and every day. If you asked me for my dream photo shoot, I’d be in a treehouse, in a wild costume, war-paint and I’d be playing with my pet dragon. Until then…..

Stay classy, Ms. Agron. Girlfriend is living proof that it doesn't matter what you wear in whatever men's magazine, you can still be a damn classy broad. I appreciate that she knew - and was even hesitant about - what she was getting into, but didn't say no. She's a lady with a job, even if that job is to put on a bra and skirt and spray silly string on her co-stars. I believe this is an appropriate time to say, "Don't hate the player, hate the game." You can't blame Dianna Agron, or Lea Michele for the nation's obsession-with-slash-condemnation-of sexual imagery, nor can you blame them for the nation's mass obsession with celebrity. Ms. Agron addressed the issues, gave her piece, apologized for offending anyone, and is moving on.

As am I. I look forward to seeing all this nonsense about the photoshoot in my rearview mirror. I just want to watch Glee in my happy little Glee bubble and not worry with "scandal." As for the general offense of the portrayal of women in today's media... well, I still have hope. There are some excellent lady role models out there - fictional or otherwise, and I'd like to think that one silly men's magazine cover isn't going to set us back one bit, in the grand scheme of things. I mean, a little optimism never hurt anyone.

And yes, I just referred to women as a collective "we." Lemon out!

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