Another day, another starlet making sex face in a lad mag, another outraged missive from the Parent's Television Council. The only new thing in this latest round is that the PTC isn't entirely wrong.
(Although they would look less like a bunch of tools if they didn't send their spokesperson out to say things like "Essentially what they are doing is fetishizing high school girls," as though GQ just now invented the idea. Would that it were so.)
Yes, of course pictures of high school aged characters spreading their legs, sucking a lollipop, and making porn face at the camera is gross, and no amount of pouting about how the actresses are in their twenties changes that. More to the point, of course the whole naughty school girl thing is about enabling and normalizing pedophilia (in the cultural sense, so anyone who just had the urge to jump up and be all "but but but puberty" this and "OMG ephebophilia" that can just sit right back down again. Give it a rest already, creeps and creep apologists.) Anybody who says that pictures like those of the Glee cast aren't intended to get a rise out of GQ readers who'd love nothing more than to molest a high school freshman is being disingenuous at best.
But! It's hard to get too excited about that, because this is the most boring, unimaginative, uninspired photo spread since the last fifty spreads just like it were published last month. It seems to be aiming for the "child porn from the seventies" aesthetic that's served American Apparel so well lately, but it can't even hit that limbo-low creativity mark. Seriously: clothed male versus (near) naked female? Check. Knee socks plus lollipop equals boner motif? Check. Reduction of talented women to stock sex objects? Please. Well, I guess according to GQ readers and editors Dianna Agron and Lea Michele have no acting or singing ability, so they need to be in their underpants to be relevant.
(Also! It's completely understandable why well-known super-skeeve Terry Richardson is still allowed access to vulnerable young targets: He brings such a fresh and unique perspective to the world of photography!)
So yes, the PTC is right about a lot of this. But it isn't this one particular spread in this one particular issue of this one particular lad mag that's the problem. It's the fact that every single teen girl has to be "sexy" to access a career (see: Cyrus, Miley for the latest case). It's the fact that any talented young woman has to appear pose in her underwear (or less) for grody old men if she wants further acting roles. It's the fact that "sexy" and "provocative" are considered the same thing and neither has seen a new idea since at least the middle of the last century.
Maybe the PTC should be less "what about the children" when it comes to stuff like this, and more "Why do main stream magazines like GQ assume their readers tend to be boring, unimaginative creeps?" Also, what Go Fug Yourself said.