Jewish girls of "Glee" gone wild?
Earlier this week, Glee's Diana Agron and Lea Michele were on the cover of GQ with co-star Cory Monteith in what can only be described as a hypersexualized spread. Diana Agron plays popular cheerleader Quinn Fabray. Lea Michele plays the know-it-all Jewish girl Rachel Berry. Both actresses are Jewish. (We have blogged about Jewishness on Glee here and here.)
The high school themed photoshoot, shot by Terry Richardson, features the Jewesses half-naked, in sexy, "come hither" poses. In one shot, Lea Michelle is provacatively licking a lollipop. Jezebel calls it "porny" and reminds us that Terry Richardson has been accused of sexual harrassment by his models in the past. Jezebel also notes that Cory Monteith, who plays the football star Finn, is wearing clothes and his poses are active rather than passive. Another blogger noticed that GQ chose to feature only thin, white actresses when Glee is all about being pro-diversity, even if it deals with the issue in a lightweight, superficial way.
The photoshoot has sparked debate about whether Glee is a show for children or adults. The Parents Television Council said the shoot "borders on pedophilia," despite the fact that the actors are all 20-somethings. Also, Glee has hit record ratings among adults and has featured plenty of sexual content that did not provoke statements from the Parent's Television Council.
There is also discussion about whether the actors have a responsibility to conduct themselves like role models because they play high school students on TV. One exciting thing to come out of this discussion (for me) was the discovery of Diana Agron's tumblelog, where she blogged about the incident:
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…..
You can read the rest of her statement here.
I have to say that I was really impressed with Diana Agron's response. It demonstrates maturity and thoughtfulness and considering the war-paint and pet dragon, that "Jewess with attitude" spirit that we love to see.
Since Diana Agron and I are almost the same age, I relate to her statement in a more personal way. Regardless of what you have to say about 20-somethings, we are in a confusing space in between adolescence and adulthood where the lines of "what's appropriate" aren't exactly clear. We are old enough to own our sexuality and make our own decisions, but does that mean we must take on the role of "role model" and/or "responsible adult" at all times? I currently manage 2 different Facebook profiles. One represents my "adult," professional persona, and the other my immature, "college" persona. But in the real world, I cannot always keep the two separate. Sometimes mistakes are made, and I, like Diana, find myself needing to apologize for acting too adult or too childish in the wrong context. I admire the way she handled it in her statement - apologizing for hurting feelings, but not apologizing for being herself or moving forward in a direction someone else might not have chosen.
I realize I may be digressing here and reading far too much into Diana Agron's statement but the point I would like to make is that regardless of what the Parents Television Council thinks of the photoshoot, Diana Agron has proven herself to be a role model. She might not be a role model for children, but for young women, like me, who are looking for examples of how to handle the hiccups that occur when you exist between two worlds both graciously and gracefully.
How to cite this page
Berkenwald, Leah. "Jewish girls of "Glee" gone wild?." 21 October 2010. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on October 4, 2023) <https://jwa.org/blog/Jewish-girls-of-Glee-gone-wild>.