Did you catch Glee's Rocky Horror Picture Show episode last night? Right off the bat, I must admit—I never liked the movie. I saw a live show in Chicago 15 years or more ago and that was only okay to me, too. Further, I've not been a big Glee fan. So a marriage of two gay-positive, pop-culture phenoms should have been enough to help me shake my reservations. Instead, it was just two times the shrug.
Matt Morrison fanatic that I am, I felt the episode was kind of a wash. I thought the new versions sounded like the old versions and the lyrical and creative changes—the word "transsexual" was ditched from "Sweet Transvestite" although the some-would-say offensive word "tranny" was used in dialogue, Frank-N-Furter was played by a girl—came off as a bit lily-livered.
Most weirdly, the entire show seemed to say that hey, y'know what? Rocky Horror is too risqué for high school kids to be performing. This message is supposed to make us think, "Cool, they're letting kids be kids." And yet the kids were still allowed to perform the racy show at the end of the episode "for themselves," and of course in reality the world is watching them all perform it throughout the episode, right?
It kind of vibes with the show's VERY recent GQ photo-shoot controversy. There, three of the show's actors (who play high schoolers) dressed up as high schoolers and flashed lots of skin. It was called out for its pedophilic overtones and the actress Dianna Agron said kids shouldn't be reading GQ to begin with. Well, that's disingenuous. First of all, kids don't have to read GQ to see the images—they are of course scanned and posted on every Glee fansite. But also, it's not as if the actors were being chastised for, say, making an R-rated movie with sexy scenes on the side—they were promoting Glee, basically in character.
And if Agron thinks it's a bad thing for kids to get a hold of that red-hot read GQ, what must she think about kids watching Glee itself? Many of the songs performed would not pass muster at any high school I know of, and despite those Rocky Horror lyric changes, the show still regularly introduces kids to racy terms like lesbian "scissoring". And again, the show is about high-schoolers yet regularly features them sexing it up in ways that are for entertainment and not done to reflect reality; last night's Rocky Horror ep fairly leered at the half-naked guys.
I also think Glee's puritanical critics are lying to themselves if they don't realize how much our society sexualizes teenagers already. The husbands of these concerned women are often the ones buying barely legal porn and getting excited by Catholic school-girl gear.
I'm not arguing that I think Glee is too hot for kids, but I am arguing that there seems to be—or, until very recently there seems to have been—some sort of collective agreement that anything Glee puts on the air is not sexy or racy or envelope-pushing just because the kids are singing so much. I'm glad Glee exists and is popular, but I do think its unmolested reign of erotic titillation is ending.