Movie Mom

Movie Mom


Do the GQ ‘Glee’ Photos Go Too Far?

posted by Nell Minow

Katie Couric and the Parents Television Council are objecting to a sexy photo spread of “Glee” cast members in GQ Magazine. While Finn (Cory Monteith) is fully clothed, his cast mates Rachel (Lea Michelle) and Quinn (Diana Agron) (both 24 years old but playing teenage high schoolers in the show) are in their underwear and posing very provocatively.

The PTC says “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.” GQ responded, “As often happens in Hollywood, these ‘kids’ are in their twenties. Cory Montieth’s almost 30! I think they’re old enough to do what they want.” NPR’s Monkey See blog also objected to the sexy “Glee” photos, because of the passive, little-girl signifiers of the props and poses.

“Glee” is not intended for children. It has a good deal of edgy material with frequent sexual references and situations. Agron plays a character who, despite membership in the school chastity club, had a baby last year. A teen boy has sex with older women. In another episode three characters decide to lose their virginity, though not all of them went through with it. The most recent episode showed two teen girl cheerleaders making out with each other.

At least three or four times a year there is a headline about some former child star who wants to show she is all grown up with a sexy photo shoot or music video. A new video from Miley Cyrus, formerly the squeaky clean Hannah Montana, has her posing blindfolded on a bed and giving lap dances. The only thing harder to control than a teenager is a teenager in show business. Or a publication trying to get headlines.

How should parents respond? First, by listening. Young fans of performers like Miley Cyrus may be distressed by this kind of behavior. Parents should use this as an opportunity to say that sometimes people, especially teenagers, make foolish choices, and we hope they learn from their mistakes — and that we do, too. If they feel strongly about it, help them write a letter to the performer, or post something on a fan site expressing their views. Teenage Gleeks may be willing to talk about why it is that the male performer gets to keep his clothes on, why the female stars pose in their underwear in public settings, and how props like a lollipop are used transgressively to make the images evoke both childhood and adult sexuality.

Let me know what your family thinks about this issue, either here or at moviemom@moviemom.com.



  • sonna

    GQ Glee Sexy Photos: http://goo.gl/Gqz0

  • Laura

    May I focus on a completely different aspect? As the mother of a teen actor, I object to seeing actors in their mid-twenties portraying high school students. How about some real teens for a change, not these unrealistic fake teens? The GQ photos are a reminder that the producers are cheating.
    For that matter, I wouldn’t mind a bit if “Glee” occasionally made it clear that polished performances require many, many hours of rehearsal time.

  • http://blog.beliefnet.com/moviemom/ Nell Minow

    Thanks, Laura. As you know only too well, producers prefer to cast over-18 actors because they are not subject to all of the restrictions and requirements that apply to minors. “I Could Never Be Your Woman” has Michelle Pfeiffer as the producer of a silly show set in a high school and all of the actors are in their 20’s and 30’s. You’re right that in this case Glee’s casting adults as teenagers is what makes these photos so provocative, which is exactly why they use the high school settings. And, as someone who has just come from a very fine but not professional quality college musical performance, I hear you on your last point, but I guess that’s part of the fantasy.

  • Yvonne Leon

    Okay, so it’s easier to have cast in their 20’s, but can’t they at least hire them at 18? It’s amazing how many changes in their lives take place between 18 & 21. My boys are in college, but surely half of what’s shown on Glee now, took place in their high school years.

  • Tyler

    Laura – the reason they don’t hire teenagers to play teenagers in a show like Glee is for one teenagers can rarely perform and act. They also can’t work a full day due to union laws. Not to mention they will be asked to perform in ways that are inappropriate to ask a minor to perform in if you’ve seen the show. This is why they cast adults to play these teens. Plus, these adult actors are fully competent and were right for the job. Casting Directors hire on the basis of talent and fitting the description of the character they’re playing, not on the basis of age, because hiring on the basis of age is considered discriminatory in many states, especially California. As it should be.
    On the other side as I understand the Parent council being upset over these provocative photos I have to ask then why don’t they stop all media and entertainment then? They’re acting like this is brand new. Walk past a newsstand and look at all the provocative shots facing you. You can’t avoid it. This is the world we live in now. Plus, what is a minor doing holding a GQ magazine to begin with? Things happen in this particular show that are far worse than what’s on the cover of GQ. They’re also simply portraying what teenagers are up to in today’s world I’m sorry to say.

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