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Teens & Sex: Get Your Claws Out!

October 21st, 2010

Okay Much viewers – you’re the ones everyone’s concerned about. Recent coverage on magazine covers has the world dishing about what’s good or bad for teenagers and sex. GQ’s Glee spread has Cory Montieth grabbing the “assets” of Dianna Argon and Lea Michele. A week ago Gossip Girl’s Taylor Momsen posed for Revolver magazine in nothing but a garter belt and gun holster.

So, fans of Glee and Gossip Girl – you’re the group concerned parental watchdogs are worried about. Are you concerned or not?

One one hand, Taylor Momsen is a 17-year-old girl getting sexualized. On the other hand, sexuality is her schick. She talks about sex openly, states her opinions freely (have you read her interview in Revolver?) and hates to be censored. She fronts the band The Pretty Reckless and maintains a raw public persona.

She’s finding herself and testing her boundaries like any other teenager. It just so happens she’s got a spotlight on her while she’s doing it. And once you’re in the spotlight, how to you stop the creeps from objectifying you and separating fantasy from reality? And there’s the fact that she’s a minor.

Is this cover appropriate? This probably isn’t all her idea of course. PR geniuses know sex sells so they probably said this was a great idea. But she could have agreed or disagreed as well.

The Glee actors have another thing going for them. Montieth, Argon and Michele are all over the legal age in the States, so posing suggestively is not a problem for them. However, their characters are high school aged and that’s how people recognize them on magazine covers. They don’t say “hey that’s Cory” they say “Hey that’s Glee’s Finn grabbing Quinn and Rachel at the same time!”. Viewers (well, parents) think if teenagers associate these images with their own high school experience…well, let’s just say in nine months they fear there might be another baby boom.

On the question of audience – GQ isn’t aimed at teenagers. But that begs the question – should you sexualize teenage personas on magazines aimed at adult men and women?

Of course, if anyone’s ever seen Glee and Gossip Girl – the teenage characters all have sex (Glee even sang Madonna’s “Like A Virgin” for one of the scenes) so by hating on the advertising, media watchdogs are not exactly saving the viewers from sexual messages. But I guess keeping the fantasy within the show (everyone knows the show is fake) controlling the subliminal messages (yes, a magazine cover can subliminally send you a message without you knowing….that’s why it’s called subliminal!) can help teenagers (and sometimes perverted adults) tell the difference between fiction and sexual exploitation.

What do you think? Are these advertisements doing what they are supposed to do (grab your attention and highlight the stars/characters?) or are they doing more damage (sexualizing the teen experience)?

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