Photo Credit: GQ
On Wednesday, the Parents Television Council released a statement condemning the producers of Glee for allowing three of its stars -- Lea Michele, Dianna Agron and Cory Monteith -- to pose for a suggestive GQ cover shoot. The watchdog group claims that the photo spread "borders on pedophilia." Do they have a point?
We're not going to lie: When we first saw the photos of Michele, Agron and Monteith in the magazine, we winced at the pornographic tone. After all, these actors play high school kids on Glee, and teenagers are one of the show's biggest and most devoted audiences. Normally, we think Glee is a positive influence on teens, especially since its characters encompass so many diverse lifestyles and points of view. So it was disappointing to see the strong, opinionated women of Glee getting the generic soft-core treatment. Especially while Cory Monteith remained fully clothed, not exposing so much as an elbow. (Double standard much?)
Agron blogged about the hoopla over the photos, apologizing to people who might be "hurt" or "uncomfortable" by the shot, but emphasized, "We are not the first" public figures to pose provocatively. In an interview with 102.7 KIIS FM's Jojo Wright, costar Mark Salling didn't agree with the controversy. "Personally, I think it's not a big deal," he said. "I mean, come on! We're obviously not in high school. It's tongue-in-cheek that we're in high school, so whatevs ... There's more important things to worry about in the world."
Jim Nelson, the editor-in-chief of GQ, defended the photos by pointing out that "these 'kids' are in their twenties. Cory Monteith is almost 30!" If you need some perspective, think of it this way: Lea Michele is the same age as Lady Gaga. And we've lost count of how many naked magazine photos Gaga has posed for, all without any accusations of pedophilia. (Not to mention the fact that Michele already posed topless in Marie Claire U.K. and the cast appeared in racy photos in Rolling Stone). So we suspect there's something else going on here. What does the Parents Television Council really have against Glee? (See a clip below from Thursday's Today show for a debate about Glee's age-appropriateness.)
There are hints of the PTC's true objection in their press release. Here's what they believe the photo shoot is saying:
While this photo shoot and the direction of the show in its second season have caught many parents off guard, we were concerned this might be coming. 'Glee' creator Ryan Murphy has declared that it is his goal in life to remove every barrier to the depiction of explicit sex on TV.
Wha-huh? The PTC "proves" that this is true with a quote from Murphy that clearly sounds like he's joking. But it's the "direction of the show" thing that we wonder about. What's happened in the last four episodes of Glee that has them worried? Maybe it's the "Duets" episode, in which best friends Brittany (Heather Morris) and Santana (Naya Rivera) were shown kissing. Or perhaps it was the "Grilled Cheesus" episode, in which atheists and believers were portrayed with equal respect. It's not surprising that a boundary-pushing show like Glee has made the PTC's watch list. The watchdog group wants TV to return to old-fashioned "family values" entertainment, and they're not interested in having their horizons broadened or viewpoints challenged.
For the record, the Parents Television Council also loves to blow things out of proportion. Here's their headline on that Katy Perry/Elmo duet that was pulled from PBS: "TV Critics Cheer Sex on Sesame Street." They've condemned the relatively wholesome TLC network for its "obsession with sex, sleazy crime, fashion, and bizarre family and medical conditions." They hate Two and a Half Men. They hate Saturday Night Live. What do they like? Only one current primetime network show meets their criteria: Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.
It seems like the Parents Television Council loves to condemn TV shows for the number of curse words they use, the sexual innuendos that appear in their jokes, or in the case of Glee, the photos that stars pose for in their downtime. What they don't seem to notice is the positive things, like Glee's celebration of teenagers' differences. We agree that parents need to pay attention to what our kids are watching. But if we're only paying attention to whether the characters are having sex -- or posing for sexy pictures in men's magazines -- then aren't we missing the bigger picture?
What do you think about the Glee sexy photo shoot controversy? Chime in below!