I love Candy Corn, that festive white – orange – yellow buttery honey candy that lets us know autumn and Halloween are here. I think what I enjoy most about Candy Corn, is that it never tries to be something it is not. The company that makes Candy Corn knows enough to put the stuff with the black stripe, and those pumpkins, in an entirely separate bag, entirely separate wrapper. You know, so as not to confuse the original Candy Corn lover.
So imagine my surprise last week, while munching a few Candy Corn, I nearly choke when someone sends me a link of a popular tv star (whose character is a high school student on FOX’s “Glee”) in sexually provocative poses that are both a little bit porny and a lot bit distasteful. These weren’t photos leaked through an unfortunate social media posting. They were taken by a professional photographer in order to sell a popular national men’s magazine. And there is very little change to the wrapper.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not falling from my chair in shock that there are desperate Hollywood starlets ready and willing to take it off, bare it, and spread it on a few glossy pages of a men’s mag so that we remember their name for one more month. The only thing is that the women who posed in these shots aren’t desperate. They are on a hit show, incredibly talented, and seemingly at the top of their game.
These adult actors were still in character during the shoot that takes place in what looks like a school (cheerleader, letter jacket wearing drummer), and otherwise wearing childish items like lacy anklet socks and pigtails…while bending over suggestively or spreading legs wide on a bench with an “Oopsie!” look on their faces.
My problem is that this whole ‘dirty school girl’ shoot didn’t change enough between the high school tv characters and the adult actors to qualify as changing the wrapper. Certainly not for that tween fan who a few months from now will Google photos of their favorite diva singer from Glee and see crotch shots and objectification in a way that leaves the female subject childish and vapid. (That’s where the sexualization comes in, fellas.) I’ve read statements from three of the cast members of the show saying things like, “I don’t know how they got me to do half of what I did” and “There are bigger problems in the world, like hunger and the losing Dallas Cowboys” and finally “well I’m sorry if your 8 year old is holding a copy of GQ”.
What I’m sorry about is that none of the Glee producers, or the actors’ agents, or the actors themselves, gave any thought to the outcome these photos would have. The photographer that was hired is Terry Richardson, Uncle Terry as he is known, infamous for being a skeevy and allegedly sexually assaulting many of his subjects. When you hire a guy whose motto is “Rock out with your cock out”, you know what you’re getting yourself into. So at some point, when Uncle Terry says, “Good, girls, now you bend over and you jump up and down in your bra and panties and lacy ankelts…” maybe one of the two actresses, would look at the other and say, “You know, we don’t want to be type-cast as high school students for the rest of our careers, but maybe doing this isn’t taking us in the right direction either.”
And when you are now a famous tv star with a fan base of millions of teens and tweens, you need to give some responsibility to your agency and say, you know, this doesn’t represent me or my character. Let’s move this to the beach or shoot us on the street or at a bar so that all those kids who made me famous know that this is me the adult, not me as their idol and favorite on a show they watch religiously every Tuesday night.
We do have bigger problems than the losing streak of an NFL team, we have the sexualization of youth and the objectification of women going on with such complacency in the media it is as if their eyes are wide shut.
If you are going to sell Candy Corn, I’ll buy. If you are going to then try to sell me Candy Corn packaged in porn industry costuming being ass palmed by a fully dressed male while coyly playing with a bright red lollipop, I’ll tell you I’m changing the channel and not buying the insincere and apathetic apologies trying to act as damage control.