On Glee and Sexytimes

Today images from November’s GQ went round and round the web. Images of three actors from uber wholesome Glee being uber unwholesome, shot by (surprise, surprise) Terry Richardson. Actually, correction, that’s just Lea Michelle and Diana Argon being unwholesome and Cory Monteith looking like he’s scored some but also looking a bit bemused.

Let’s think about the players here for a moment:

The actors
Diana Argon, Lea Michelle and Corey Monteith portray highschool students on Glee but they’re all adults.
The photographer
Resident sleazeball of fashion photography, Terry Richardson (Dov Charney, you ain’t got nothing on this dude)
The magazine
A men’s lifestyle magazine, it’s unclear to me how many straight men read it, I can’t imagine a whole lot.
The show
Set in a highschool.  The glee club covers pop songs while teaching you the audience slightly liberal family values.
The intended audience
Readers of GQ and GQ.com.  It’s really unclear though who this reader is.  Supposedly men.
The actual audience
Presumably, anyone interested in Glee, including young people.

All the controversy aside, I want to know why the photos are so boring.  The women look like they went shopping for Halloween costumes and got costumes that came in bags with photos of blond women on printed on the front, captioned “Sexy cheerleader”.

I suspect that the choice of Terry Richardson was deliberate.  I suspect the cliché, cheap and sleazy look of the shoot was meant as a comment on the show’s veneer of wholesomeness.  I further suspect that the resulting firestorm was intended.

But  I want to know a few things.  I don’t buy that GQ’s readership is largely heterosexual and male.  And the images suggest this, they’re not sexy, they’re “sexy” (thank you Susan Sontag).  Lea Michelle is pure camp in those photos.  So if this were true, could those of us who dig a little dick get some eye candy too?  Come on, the cast is not lacking in hot boys to get scantily clad.  I’d pay to see Harry Shum or Chord Overstreet spreading it for the camera.

Lea Michelle has gone on record to say that she wasn’t aware of half of what she was doing during the shoot.  Some have said this is an example of coercion and the power unbalance in the industry.  I would entertain that, but I would also suggest that perhaps this is an example of a photographer knowing how to get performances out of his models.  When I’m performing, I can’t really tell you half of what I’m doing after either, I put that down to flow.  But the fact that a model in these photos has come out to distance herself from them some is telling.

What if we buy that the images were meant to be subversive?  Sure, I’d like to see Chris Colfer vamping it, and not for camp value — Chris Colfer, showing me what he can do with a lollipop.  I’d like to see Amber Riley, Jenna Ushkowitz and Naya Rivera giving some sexy of color.  I’d like to see Artie (the character) giving some wheelchair sexy while they’re at it.  Instead we have tired stereotypical tropes as “subversion”.  Really?

The problem with these images is not the sexism.  The problem is that they are so boring.

photos: gq.com


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