Community stars Allison Brie and Gillian Jacobs, G.L.O.C.s in their own right, got all gartered and laced for the latest issue of GQ—the Comedy Issue—for a ‘lesbian’ photo shoot. While we admire their sexually-charged empowerment, we can’t help but wonder why a spread on comedy has to feature half-naked women and be so blatantly boner-inducing.
We get that this is Gentleman’s Quarterly and we’re definitely not the target demo, but when you do a comedy issue we, as comediennes, expect there to at least be some substance—or at the very least laughs—inside. Brie and Jacobs are obviously comfortable with their bodies (no seriously, we’re totally cool with how hot they are) and often TwitPic ‘near kisses’, but the accompanying article reads more like Playboy fare rather than one based on the comedic merits of its subjects. And that’s the point, right? Or are we totally not getting it? Because we’re really smart. And we usually totally get things.
“Part of me resents the ‘Hey! Women can be funny, too!’ stories that come out every so often,” says Erin Rose Foley, who stepped away from comedy to get her degree in social work. “But then this just shows us that we need those stories because this is always out there working against us. I just feel like these magazines are breeding that mindset of ‘Women are there for [men's] pleasure.’” Fighting that battle can seem a bit daunting, especially when most women admit they want to feel sexy. “I think it’s confusing for women,” Giulia Rozzi, co-host of the hit sexy storytelling series Stripped Stories tells us. “Who doesn’t like to be sexy? But then we also want respect.” So can you have both? Rozzi adds, “I think owning sexuality is empowering, but I’m not sure this photo exemplifies that ownership.”
We’re reminded of the Sarah Silverman Maxim spread from 2007. Sure, Sarah was flaunting her hot bod and yes, Maxim magazine is ‘the Ultimate Guy’s Guide’, but the photos had a comedic flair.
“I think it boils down to the fact that they need to sell magazines at a time where the industry is struggling and Mila Kunis on the cover reading a Del Close biography in a bear costume isn’t gonna do that. GQ readers like half naked “funny” actresses whereas BUST readers would more likely be drawn to a cover with a fully clothed Jason Bateman just talking about reviving his career after The Hogan Family,” comedienne Kara Klenk added.
But these photos aren’t even remotely funny. They don’t even have a hint of humor. Unless you think lipstick lesbians are funny? Openly gay NY performer Jess Barbagallo asks, “Why is it funny when gay people kiss each other? It should be funny for the same reasons it’s funny when straight people kiss each other. It just feels sad, like girls in college who make out to get attention from guys at bars.” Ubiquitous talking head and writer/director Bex Schwartz wishes, “Funny, talented ladies could appear in a photo shoot that wasn’t intended to be lesbionically titillating! I thought the whole faux-lipstick-lesbian thing went out with the 90s. Some day, funny ladies will appear in magazines with all their clothes on! A girl can dream, anyway.”
We’re not blind to the fact that sex sells, but by featuring only scantily-clad women in suggestive poses in your Comedy Issue you’ve given us a reason to take issue with your issue. Particularly when it’s so obviously slanted in the direction of young, hot ladies. Klenk points out that, “On Community the three women are a prominent trio and yet Yvette Nicole Brown is glaringly absent. I guess she was booked that day?”
Don’t get us wrong, we’re not faulting the ladies for posing. Kate Tellers, who works with The Moth thinks that, “Funny women can just be sexy and sometimes just that. Think about it, if in every conversation you had to make someone laugh, wouldn’t that be exhausting?” Tellers thinks the objectification comes more from the headline. “The implication that the men asked them to [do a lesbian scene for them] and their clothes melted away implies a power relationship.”
So what do you think? Are the photos just good, old-fashioned sexy fun or are they setting us back in our fight for comedic meritocracy?