After This Uncomfortable Interview, Can We All Stop Objectifying Zac Efron?

Photo: Franziska Krug/Getty Images.
One image of Zac Efron on a pole and the internet goes wild. Since his years as a teen heartthrob and Disney star, Zac Efron has been known for taking on roles that involve him needing to be in not just good, but great, shape. During an appearance on British talk show, The Graham Norton Show, the Baywatch actor was asked to show off that strength to recreate a pose from a photoshoot.
The image brought up is from a photoshoot where Zac Efron is balancing horizontally holding onto a parking meter. Host, Graham Norton, asks Zac Efron if this was truly an impressive feat of strength or the result of special effects. As if it were a spontaneous request, Norton says, "Not that I'm calling you a liar, but there's a pole right over there." Cut to a shot of a pole set up on the stage set to the sound of an eagerly cheering audience.
A picture may be worth a thousand words, but a video doesn't lie. It appears that Efron is uncomfortable with the situation, from the start. His body language changes and he becomes more soft spoken. Still, he obliges and heads across the stage. In all likelihood, he was more than likely asked about this segment in advance by the producers of the show, but he appears to be visibly blushing when they send him over to the pole. A couple of times, he seemed not to hear (or pretended not to hear) what Norton was saying. He doesn't seem like a guy doing a funny skit that he's into.
What took it a step further was what Graham Norton said next. "Want some music?" the host asked. Before Efron could answer, "Low" by T-Pain and Flo Rida comes on. His discomfort with the situation seems to increase, and it becomes more obvious that he is not sure how to handle this progressively more sexualized attention. He plays it off and follows through on recreating the pose, but even after returning to the couch he seems uncomfortable. His body language is closed off as he sits at the end of the couch and his responses are monosyllabic.
What Efron was doing was essentially a side plank; however, once it got filtered through the internet, headlines describe it as "pole dancing." Clearly, that is not the case. A favorite club hit, a pole, and a pose does not a pole dance make. It does beg the question though, why does everyone act like it is okay to objectify Zac Efron? Yes, he is an attractive man, but no one (Zac Efron included) should be put into a position where they feel objectified, and their actions are overly sexualized. If a woman had been put in this situation, would there be more outrage about describing it as "pole dancing?"
While doing an interview for the movie Neighbors 2, Efron was asked what it was like being the subject of objectification. While he admits to being very aware of that aspect of his role, he is quick to say that it's only "one aspect of his character." He then goes on to say that he will "do some serious acting someday." Someday seems to be sooner rather than later. Efron has been cast to play the infamous serial killer Ted Bundy the upcoming biopic, Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile.
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