What 8-year-old reads GQ?
Those were the sentiments of one of the "Glee" actresses under fire for posing in the newest issue of the men's magazine. They appeared racy set of photos as hyper-sexualized versions of their high-school aged characters .
"If you are hurt or these photos make you uncomfortable, it was never our intention. And if your eight-year-old has a copy of our GQ cover in hand, again I am sorry," actress Dianna Agron wrote in her blog on Tumblr. "But I would have to ask, how on earth did it get there?"
The backlash against the photo spread, which also features Lea Michele and Cory Monteith, reached its zenith when the Parents Television Council, a conservative media watchdog, released a scathing critique saying the shoot "borders on pedophilia" and is a "near-pornographic display."
There's little question that the photos, one of which shows Michele spread-eagle on a locker-room bench in her panties, are meant to capitalize on the classic school-girl fantasy and the actresses' Hollywood-perfect bodies.
"When the Parents Television Council says it's another example of the culture sexually exploiting young women, I have no argument with them there," said Bob Thompson, professor of pop culture at Syracuse University in New York.
"When the Parents Television Council says this borders on pedophilia, they're wrong," he said. "They are over 18. We see pictures like that in Victoria's Secret catalogs that come often to our mailbox that could be seen by any kid."
Though Agron and Michele portray teenagers, they are both 24 years old. Monteith is 28, though he remains conspicuously covered in the GQ photos while Agron and Michele wear skimpy underwear, half-shirts and skirts short enough to make most real-life high school principals blush.
If GQ had put the actresses in clothes and situations appropriate for their real-life ages -- say a nightclub or a beach -- it may have been less of a shock, said Melissa Henson, director of communications and public education for the Parents Television Council.
"The intent, I think, is clearly to fetishize high school girls, and that is what I think is so troubling about that photo shoot," she said.
Henson lays blame not with Agron, Michele or Monteith, but with the brass behind "Glee" and GQ.
"Especially if you're young and just starting out there's a lot of pressure put on these young performers," she said. "They have to do that to tout their careers."
Though Agron defended her participation in the photo shoot in her blog, she admitted "it wasn't my favorite idea."
"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," Agron wrote. "If you asked me for my dream photo shoot, I'd be in a tree house, in a wild costume, war-paint and I'd be playing with my pet dragon."