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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A racy photo shoot for men's magazine GQ featuring three "Glee" cast members raised eyebrows on Wednesday, provoking terms like "creepy" and "pedophilia" and questions over whether the popular TV musical show is becoming over-exposed.
Short skirts, high heels, scanty panties and provocative poses featuring lollipops dominate the November issue photoshoot featuring Lea Michele (Rachel), Dianna Agron (Quinn) and Corey Monteith (Finn) that plays with the high school setting of the Emmy-award winning television show. All three actors are in their 20s.
The Parents Television Council watchdog group said the photos "border on pedophilia," given the adult male readership of GQ. "This is just the latest example of the overt sexualization of young girls in entertainment," the PTC added.
"Glee", a sometimes dark, subversive comedy featuring a high school choir, has taken U.S. pop culture by storm since its 2009 debut. Superstars like Madonna, Britney Spears and Lady Gaga readily agreed to license their songs to the show.
The program has produced three best-selling albums, won two Emmys and deals boldly with issues like sex, disability, and gay bullying. It is regularly watched by some 13.4 million U.S. viewers and has a strong youth following.
Broadcaster Fox on Wednesday declined to comment on the PTC statement. But GQ editor in chief Jim Nelson said that the watchdog group "should learn to divide reality from fantasy."
"As often happens in Hollywood, these 'kids' are in their twenties. Cory Monteith's almost 30. I think they're old enough to do what they want," Nelson said
Bob Thompson, professor of popular culture at Syracuse University, brushed off the PTC comments, noting that "Glee" had never been a "kiddie show" despite attracting teens.
"From the very beginning, 'Glee' has dealt with pot, teen pregnancy and gay sexuality.
"This is a show that has definitely got adult themes. The GQ shoot demonstrates it isn't just a show for teeny boppers," Thompson told Reuters.
But Salon.com writer Mary Elizabeth Williams said GQ's playing up of the sexy teen angle was "just creepy".
Los Angeles Times TV writer Mary McNamara, noting that Monteith remains fully clothed, expressed dismay that young women still feel the need to pose so provocatively. Michele, she wrote "seems to be auditioning for a live action version of Japanese anime porn."
The Washington Post's Celebritology blog said the GQ shoot was "the latest evidence that the 'Glee' hype machine might be starting to spiral out of control".
Thompson said he had long felt that "Glee" is over-rated by the media. But he noted that one of its consistent themes was tolerance and "that's a pretty good message for a kid, even though it gets there with a lot of dicey content."
Editing by Bob Tourtellotte