Seriously, if Terry Richardson is the one photographing Glee cast members for GQ, I don’t think anyone should be shocked that it’s going to be really dirty in an intentionally transgressive way. This morning my newsfeeds were squealing about the inappropriateness of GQ’s new cover and photo spread with actors from Glee. The actors were being racily sexy (to GQ’s mild limits, anyway), and we are in the land of the can’t-tell-actors-from-real-people, where the same people who are quick to shriek ‘kiddie pr0n’ at the GQ cover also buy Tylenol because the guy who plays a doctor on TV recommends it in the commercial. Still, the Parents Television Council is calling the GQ spread something that “borders on pedophilia.”
Here’s the GQ Glee gallery so you can see for yourself what is giving the PTC inappropriate thoughts.
Interestingly, NPR thinks it sucks too, but for different reasons. NPR does not approve of portraying the women as sexually submissive, indicated by their girlish clothing and poses. Here, we bump up against the stereotype assumption — and myth — that a woman’s voluntary display of sexual submission is inherently disempowering, and should be condemned. (NPR is having a bad hair day today, incidentally, so we don’t have to agree with them on this, either.)
Reason Magazine gives us what we need: some reason on the subject. Here’s a snip from the superb article Glee, The Simpsons, and Virtual Child Porn:
The Parents Television Council is complaining about a GQ photo spread featuring two actresses from the Fox musical dramedy Glee, Dianna Agron (Quinn) and Lea Michele (Rachel), in provocative poses. Although both actresses are 24, the characters they play are teenagers. As far as PTC President Tim Winter is concerned, that fact makes the GQ photos quasi-felonious:
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.
I suppose that being sexually attracted to 24-year-olds dressed like 17-year-olds “borders on pedophilia” in the same sense that adulthood borders on childhood. But it’s absurd to pretend there is something perverse or unusual about such attraction, or that any man who likes to see Dianna Agron jump around in a cheerleader’s outfit is just one step away from raping children. Still, that seems to be the assumption underlying bans on child pornography. Such laws do not distinguish between prepubescent kids and sexually mature teenagers, and they can even be used to prosecute high school students for pictures they take of themselves or receive from the teenagers featured in them.
But to reiterate: Agron and Michele are not actually teenagers; they just play them on TV. In the 2002 case Ashcroft v. Free Speech Coalition, the Supreme Court overturned a ban on “virtual” child pornography, production of which does not involve any real children, as a violation of the First Amendment. Presumably that is why Winter does not argue that GQ actually committed a crime by showing fake high school students in their underwear. (…read more, reason.com, thanks Praemedia)