So, Glee is on the cover of Rolling Stone this month, and there’s all sorts of feedback on the Mark Seliger photo, ranging from disappointment in the flash of panties to debate over the inclusion or exclusion of various actors. None of that bothers me much. Cover selection is a complicated equation, designed more to pique random grocery shoppers’ interest than please devoted fans of either the magazine or whatever star is featured. Not to mention that objectifying Lolita-type figures is pretty standard for RS.
All that said, I was hugely disappointed by the story (which unfortunately isn’t online at the moment). First, it’s the kind of celeb profile that’s far too prevalent — a first-person diary of the reporter’s experience interviewing the subjects. (In this case, writer Erik Hedegaard uses the royal “we” instead of “I,” even though it’s clear the entire staff of Rolling Stone isn’t hanging out at Guitar Center with Cory Monteith.) Occasionally that proves illuminating, as when Britney Spears dodged Allure‘s reporter multiple times in 2007. But more often, I think it’s boring and self-indulgent. Indeed, Hedegaard seems far more interested in his own subversive interview tactics (including demanding each castmember “entertain” him) than actually sharing any genuine insight into the actors or the runaway hit show. And his conversations with ingénues Lea Michele and Dianna Agron are creep city. The former dares to clam up when he asks if she pees in the shower or wears thongs; the latter is branded “an A-plus prissy pie” because she wears a vintage ’50s dress and has never had a one-night-stand. Finally, there’s the patronizing chat with Chris Colfer, who the reporter admits he originally had no intention of interviewing — odd because Kurt is in many ways the emotional lynchpin of Glee. (And the 19-year-old actor is the closest thing the cast has to a real-life 2010 teen.)
Anyway, I get what Hedegaard was going for — a meta commentary on bullying, or stereotyping, or any other issue that Glee plumbs so well every week. But I don’t think this strange social experiment works, and the creepiness — magnified at the end when Hedegaard takes what seems like standard reporter/celebrity interaction on set as a snub — is a total distraction. I’m not saying that this profile should have pandered to the “Gleeks.” Or that magazine stories shouldn’t make you uncomfortable, or try to make a larger point about society. But this one reveals far more about the reporter than any of his subjects. And that’s not a journalist’s job.
Has anyone else read the story? I’m curious to hear other reactions …