No doubt about it, Fox's "Glee" is a pop-culture juggernaut. In 2009, the "Glee" cast landed 25 singles on the Billboard Hot 100, the most by any artist since the Beatles. The show is syndicated all over the world. Its second season debut scored more than 12 million viewers. Clearly, Fox knows that this show about a high-school glee club is a hot ticket for high-schoolers, and its appeal trickles down through the lower grades. They're the ones who are downloading all the "Glee" singles for their iPods.
So who is the marketing genius who decided that female "Glee" stars should pose in their bras and underwear in the badly named "Gentleman's Quarterly" magazine? And with a fully clothed male star putting his hand on their rear ends on the cover? Surely, a lot more children watch the TV show than check out GQ magazine, but the photo shoot was news all over the entertainment world. Sleazy marketing is the best marketing.
This decision was almost uniformly condemned. One standout example was CBS anchor Katie Couric, who denounced it in an online commentary. "These very adult photos of young women who perform in a family show just seem so un-'Glee'-like. The program is already edgy in the right ways, these images don't really -- in my humble opinion -- fit the 'Glee' gestalt."
But "Glee," a "family show"? Not even Fox would agree. It's overtly sexual (in Couric-speak, that's "edgy") and absolutely no one in the show is a role model. A recent episode featured two (clothed) cheerleaders making out in bed. Fox might argue the women in the photo shoot are in their 20s, not actual high schoolers, but that's beside the point. GQ clearly designed this photo shoot to appeal to men (the GQ readership's median age is 33.4) and their fantasies about underaged girls in high school.
Despite all this, "Glee" does have some defenders, and they are lashing out in stupid ways. On MSNBC's "Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell," the host spoke out against, and blamed the scandal on, the Parents Television Council, which he defined as "a cult that was invented to complain about TV and pretend that the TV remotes don't have channel selectors or buttons that turn the infernal machines off."
I've been called many things, but I've never been accused of starting a "cult."