Glee Goes Lolita: GQ’s Controversial Photo Shoot (NSFW) (Updated)

*Updated Thursday morning with quotes from the Parents Television Council, GQ‘s editor-in-chief, and Dianna Agron herself!

As you may know, I have a history of complaining about Glee cover stories. But a picture’s worth a thousand words, which is more of the article than I can read without a GQ subscription, so let’s see what GQ’s controversial photo shoot tells us about Glee, and by extension, the universe.

From the little I read of the article, it’s completely unrelated to the photos. They report Glee as it is: lots of nice kids who work hard, joke around, and don’t fuck up, even as they hurtle at breakneck speed into fame. So why do the photographs look like they were confiscated from a raid on How to Catch a Predator?

Ask Terry Richardson, the photographer of this shoot who faced serious allegations of sexual harassment from many of his former clients and employees merely six months ago. Some industry insiders write him off as a “big personality,” but many models have come forward accusing him of coercing them into sexual acts . Model-filmmaker Rie Rasmussen said that he “takes girls who are young, manipulates them to take their clothes off and takes pictures of them they will be ashamed of. They are too afraid to say no.” He claims he’s artistically documenting his own sexual exploits, but others say he finds models willing to do nude photo shoots and pressures them to take pictures of him naked and allow themselves to be photographed performing sexual acts on him. Yes, dear readers, this was the photographer they thought was appropriate for the Glee photo shoot. I just want that creepy image in your mind while you look at these even creepier images. Let’s start the show.

The Cover

Dianna Agron in a Betsey Johnson bra & cardigan and A.P.C. skirt; Cory Monteith in a Gant Rugger rugby shirt and Gant by Michael Bastian pants; Lea Michele in Victoria’s Secret bra & panties, Relwen sweater, Falke socks and Michael Kors heels

A man with a barely-clothed woman on each arm, and a hand on each scantily-clad ass, just the way God intended it. For God’s sake, this is GQ, not Maxim. Did Lea Michele really need to be pantsless? And what’s with her blow job lips? There’s something about that open-mouthed, wet-lipped porno mouth that is totally nauseating. Dianna looks like a nun in comparison, but she’s still showing a helluva lot of skin. But are they Dianna, Corey, and Lea, or are they Quinn, Finn, and Rachel? The schoolgirl outfits for the ladies and varsity jock wear for the man point to the latter.

They continue the good clean fun in this shot, in which I can focus on nothing but how ashamed I am of the the strongly negative reaction I had to Lea Michele’s nose. (I believe I screamed, “WE’RE JEWISH WOMEN! WE DON’T PHOTOGRAPH IN PROFILE!” But honestly, as Fanny Bryce would say, she’s an “American beauty rose with an American beauty NOSE!”) But the blow job lips are ever-present. Cory looks post-coital, Lea looks mid-coital, and Dianna is fucking Terry Richardson with her eyes (I hope only with her eyes). But at least everyone is basically clothed!

Dianna Agron in a vintage cardigan, Victoria’s Secret bra, Spicy Girl shorts; Cory Monteith in a Dolce & Gabbana sweater, Gant by Michael Bastian shirt, Band of Outsiders tie, Club Monaco pants, Timex watch and Smart Turnout watch strap; Lea Michele in a Michael Kors cardigan, Betsey Johnson bra, American Apparel shirt and Falke socks

Finn is in three shirts, a tie, and pants, while the girls wear glorified panties. And again, it’s the girls surrounding him, focusing their bodies and attention on him, while he gropes them and smiles dopily for the camera. (Not blaming Cory for that, though.)

Dianna Agron in a Brooks Brothers cardigan and skirt, Victoria’s Secret bra, Antipast socks and Yves Saint Laurent shoes; Lea Michele in a Rag & Bone blazer, Betsey Johnson bra, American Apparel socks and Miu Miu shoes; Cory Monteith in a Gap hoodie, J.Crew shirt, Fred Perry tie, Gant by Michael Bastian pants

I can’t even get offended by this picture because it’s such a terrible photograph. Dianna and Lea look like pre-op trannies and Cory seems to STILL BE WEARING LAYERS! And now that we’re in what is undoubtedly a high school setting, I’m becoming more uncomfortable with how Lolita this is getting.

Dianna Agron in a Lacoste shirt, Betsey Johnson bra, American Apparel skirt, Miu Miu socks and Christian Louboutin shoes; Lea Michele in a vintage Melet Mercantile tee, American Apparel panties, Hue socks and Christian Louboutin shoes

Lea: Ohmigod, Dianna! There are books here! Let’s take our clothes off and throw them around and jump in the air, because that’s what schoolgirls do!

Dianna: Okay, Lea! I’ll bend over and get ready for some penetration!

Lea Michele in a vintage Melet Mercantile tee, Victoria’s Secret bra, Calvin Klein panties and American Apparel socks

Why is she wearing a baseball tee and athletic socks? I mean, she’s not athletic. She’s in the show choir. Also, why wouldn’t she be wearing pants at her locker? That seems kind of unreasonable. And… um… does she know that’s a lollipop? Because something in her expression makes me feel like that is way more than a lollipop. Ugh. I’m getting the heebie-jeebies.

Seriously, Terry? A Lolita-ed up high school choir priss, holding a lollipop, playing with her hair, wearing little boys’ sports clothes, lingerie, and Barbie heels, and showing you her twat? That’s really original. I don’t think anyone’s every wanted to fuck a schoolgirl before.

Again, my issue here is: I don’t like the blending of underage characters with overtly sexual photo shoots. If Terry photographed Lea, Cory, and Dianna in the nude, I’d be fine with that if they weren’t in character. They’re all in their twenties and mature adults. But keeping them in McKinley High, so that we have to think of them as sixteen-year-olds when we look at them naked? Is that really necessary?

Cory Monteith in an Armani jacket, Calvin Klein shirt, Uniqlo tie and Diesel jeans

Look! Cory is STILL FULLY CLOTHED IN MULTIPLE LAYERS. And he’s the only one who looks awesome in what he’s wearing, because, you know, he gets to wear clothes. That tie is pretty cute.

Cory Monteith in a Gucci coat, Gant Rugger sweater, and Diesel jeans

He’s still fully clothed! And that coat is stunning. Cory’s the only one who gets to wear anything interesting (because he’s the only one who gets to wear anything at all).

Dianna Agron in a Michael Kors sweater, Victoria’s Secret bra, D&G skirt and Christian Louboutin heels

Ah, the sexy cheerleader: inspiring slutty trick-or-treaters for decades. But I don’t know what’s more distracting – the fact that I can see her fallopian tubes from here, or the giant red pennant pointing right into her ass. Do we really need a “look at my twat” shot from Lea AND Dianna? I’d think one would be enough.

They kept Dianna consistently more clothed than Lea, even though Quinn is supposed to be the sexy one and Rachel is the virginal priss. Dianna’s certainly not covered up, but she’s also not tearing off her clothes or silently offering you a blow job through the camera. At least she looks strong and empowered in some of these shots, whereas Lea only looks like a child prostitute.

And the white socks? In every shot? You don’t have to drive home the schoolgirl point any harder, Terry. We get it.

So? Did you take offense to any of this? This Diva does not blush at a little nudity (or a lot), but the objectification of women and especially the pornification of young girls is something she strongly opposes. This is not about loving or hating Glee. This is about why these girls – and only the GIRLS – to dress like jailbait and rip their clothes off. The stark contrast between Finn and the girls proves that this isn’t about objectifying Glee, or the subjects of your photography in general. When you put two naked schoolgirls on the arms of a fully-clothed man for an entire photo shoot, you’re making a statement. A statement that we should probably look for your name on our local Sexual Offender Registry. Or at least a statement about the role of women: In this shoot, we’re mere objects to be dolled up and stripped down for your viewing pleasure.

Update 1: The Parents Television Council’s statement, and GQ‘s response to the controversy

The Parents Television Council released the following statement regarding this photo shoot:

“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. By authorizing this kind of near-pornographic display, the creators of the program have established their intentions on the show’s direction. And it isn’t good for families.”

And Jim Nelson, editor-in-chief of GQ, responded with the following:

“The Parents Television Council must not be watching much TV these days and should learn to divide reality from fantasy. 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.”

Really, Jim? Is it us, the readers, who are too stupid to “divide reality from fantasy” and understand that these are 20-something actors? Are you actually going to entirely ignore the fact that these women are photographed in undoubtedly high school settings and dressed as pornified school girls? Dianna is holding a (very phallic) prop that says WMHS, which is of course William McKinley High School, the name of the school they attend on Glee. I’m not sure we’re the ones with the problem, GQ. I think it may be you who has the inability to separate reality from fantasy. And even if you can’t make a pseudo-pedophilic argument about these photos, aren’t they still offensive from a feminist perspective? No one cares that Cory’s almost 30 – because he’s the only one who gets to wear clothes. If dressing up 20-something women as slutty fantasy version of their high school characters in a high school setting isn’t offensive based on the ages of their characters, it’s still offensive that GQ can’t come up with a better concept for a photo shoot than schoolgirl sluts draped around a jock.

Update 2: Dianna Agron’s response on her personal blog

Thanks to my dear friend Cecile, who both introduced me to this photo shoot AND provided me the link to Dianna’s response.

“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… 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…”

I only took excerpts from her full statement, but I think this is a very mature response. She encourages parents to keep their children away from these and similarly risque photos, and admits that she didn’t love the idea, but she stayed, and just wants to put it behind her. But I’m not sure how GQ can continue to claim “they’re 20-somethings! They’re not their high school characters!” when the magazine actually instructed Dianna and Lea to play “very heightened version of [their] school characters.” So, which is it, GQ? Are they “heightened” (read: pornified, objectified, over-sexualized) versions of Quinn Fabray and Rachel Berry? Or are they independent twenty-something women who just happened to be dressed as schoolgirls and just happened to be frolicking around a high school with the same name as the school their characters attend?

© Democracy Diva, 2010.

Glee Does Rocky Horror!

Well, kittens, it seems as though all of my dreams have come true. Ryan Murphy announced yesterday that next season of Glee will feature a Rocky Horror-themed episode. As a Rocky expert (I dare you to challenge me on that) and Glee fanatic, this is basically the biggest news in my life right now (sad but true). So without further ado, I present my dream casting for the episode – who I think should sing what song and why. Now, these are not predictions, mainly because I trust my own judgment better than that of Glee‘s producers. I do not expect Glee to always make the right choices; sadly, they have yet to hire me, so clearly they will be ill-equipped to make the proper decisions regarding their Rocky Horror episodes. But should they choose to come to their senses, they need not look any further than the Democracy Diva.

Song: “Science Fiction, Double Feature”
Who should sing it: Brittany and Santana (Heather Morris and Naya Rivera)
Likelihood: 2/10
Why: A sexy, sultry song fit for a true alto, “Science Fiction, Double Feature” is the opening number in The Rocky Horror Picture Show, actually sung by a man (Richard O’Brien, the film’s creator/resident creeper Riff Raff) but portrayed in the film by the iconic red lips of a woman (the lips belong to Patricia Quinn, who plays Magenta).

The song is basically just a list of sci-fi references, so I think the odds of this making it into the Glee episode are pretty much nil. It doesn’t have the sort of climax that most Glee songs have, nor will it forward the plot in any way. But I think if they arranged it as a sexy duet between our two resident bicurious cheerleaders, it would be unstoppable. Plus, Naya Rivera’s deep rasp is perfect for this number.

Song: “Time Warp”
Who should sing it: Artie (Kevin McHale) as Riff Raff, Kurt (Chris Colfer) as Magenta, Tina (Jenna Ushkowitz) as Columbia
Likelihood: 7/10
Why: The most famous song from the show, the Time Warp has it all: sex appeal, creepiness, ridiculous dance moves, and lots of trannies running around in tuxedos. Now, I’ve heard that Ryan Murphy announced the Rocky episode of Glee by telling Chris Colfer that he would get the opportunity to live out his dream of singing “Time Warp,” which would presumably mean he’d be singing the part of Riff Raff (or perhaps they’ll re-arrange the song as a solo). But there’s only one man on Glee suited fill Richard O’Brien’s shoes, and that man is Kevin McHale. Though wheelchair-bound Artie would probably be unable to do Riff’s infamous “kick! kick!,” he’s by far the strongest male vocalist on the show (with the exception of Jon Groff, but I’m not sure if he’s returning next season). And he’s the only one who can sing the sort of rock-theatre style that this song demands.

But Kurt as Magenta? In a big ridiculous wig and a French maid’s costume, with a hilariously bad accent? That would be pure perfection. And Tina’s whiny voice is perfect for Columbia’s solo.

Song: “Sweet Transvestite”
Who should sing it: Puck (Mark Salling)
Likelihood: 5/10
Why: We’ve seen Finn finally stand up for New Directions by donning head-to-toe Lady Gaga drag; now it’s time for McKinley High’s other resident jock to don some drag and gay it up. Puck is a total rock star in his head, which is why he’d be perfect for this ego-driven song of pure attitude. Because as super-queeny as Dr. Frank N. Furter is, he’s also a totally badass maniac, and Puck would not only rock this song, but he’d look damn good doing it. He’s totally the sort of character who would do this as a “look how confident in my sexuality I am” kind of thing – like he’s the only straight guy cool enough to get away with it. Which he is. (Because Finn would just look super-gay.) I don’t know that Glee would want to put their hottest male character (aside from the yummy Mr. Schue) into such a dragtastic role – I only know that if they choose someone else to do it, I won’t be satisfied.

Song: “I Can Make You a Man”
Who should sing it: Sue Sylvester (Jane Lynch)
Likelihood: 6/10
Why: Should Sue Sylvester not have an entire song dedicated to what a weeny Will Schuester is? I’d love to see Sue take on the challenge to whip Mr. Schue (or any other character) into Cheerio-standard shape, using this song as her get-pumped anthem. Jane Lynch would be as hilarious imitating Tim Curry as she was imitating Madonna in the “Vogue” video, and she could slip in all sorts of jokes about his hair. After all, even if she’s going to stand up for Glee club, she will still forever be Will’s rival, and we love her for that.

Song: “Hot Patootie”
Who should sing it: Finn (Cory Monteith)
Likelihood: 7/10
Why: The perfect combination of cheese and rock, this song was made for Finn. He’d be strong on the high rock vocals, and the song is right in his territory – loud and fun, but theatrical as well. Plus, Meatloaf is one rock legend Finn has yet to conquer on the show, so it’ll be interesting to see how he handles it.

Song: “Touch-a Touch-a Touch-a Touch Me”
Who should sing it: Rachel (Lea Michele)
Likelihood: 9/10
Why: Nobody can over-emote like a stage actress, so only Lea Michele can bring to “Touch-a” the over-the-top campiness that it deserves. Not to mention it’d be the perfect song for Rachel to lose her virginity to – a song about an uptight priss wanting to be bad and give it up? It’s the “You’re the One that I Want” from Grease all over again – the good girl gone bad. Lea would destroy the high notes while keeping the princess-gone-wild attitude strong. I can’t see the Glee producers denying this chance for Rachel Berry to diva out and go crazy.

Song: “Rose Tint My World/Floor Show”
Who should sing it: April Rhodes (Kristen Chenoweth) as Columbia, Finn as Rocky, Kurt as Brad, Rachel as Janet
Likelihood: 1/10
Why: I see no possible way that the producers would allow this to happen, but it would be beyond perfect. I know they’re bringing both Kristen Chenoweth and Idina Menzel back next season for more guest appearances, and I’d love to hear Cheno do her squeaky little-girl voice for Columbia’s solo. Finn as Rocky is easy – they’re both dumb as hell and can’t dance for shit – and Rachel the ingenue is of course Janet. But Kurt in fishnets and heels, writhing on the floor with a feather boa, playing Brad even gayer than Barry Bostwick played him, would make television history.

Song: “Wild & Untamed Thing”
Who should sing it: Mr. Schue (Matt Morrison)
Likelihood: 6/10
Why: Who better than the fearless leader of New Directions to lead the most upbeat, frantic, dance-crazy song in Rocky Horror? He’d be able to fit it into some schmaltzy lesson that uses words like “freedom” and “expression” and “passion” and some other crap that fits in with Mr. Schue’s character perfectly. And of course, Matt Morrison would get to show off his impressive dance moves, and this song would also be a great way to feature some of the show’s best dancers, like Brittany and Mike Chang (Harry Shum), better known as “Other Asian.”

Song: “Don’t Dream It, Be It”
Who should sing it: Kurt
Likelihood: 9/10
Why: A gay anthem if there ever was one, “Don’t Dream It, Be It” is not only a celebration of self-awareness, but a ridiculously flaming, over-the-top, Liza Minelli-style ballad with meaningful (if repetitive) lyrics. Its message is not as simple as “be who you are” – instead, you should drape yourself in feathers and be the person (or transvestite alien) of your dreams. And who better than Kurt to give us that message?

Thoughts? Feelings? Leave your comments, as always. And don’t forget to follow me on twitter @democracydiva!

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