W Magazine’s ‘Best Performances’ Editorial

W Magazine chose this year’s 20 best acting performances and vamped the stars up for a fierce fashion spread.

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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.

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