Brian Fuller's blog on the media, marketing and content creation

SI swimsuit porn

Posted on | February 14, 2008 | 7 Comments


Quite a little storm brewing this Valentine’s Day over the annual Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition. This year it should be called the SI Porn edition. Many photos of topless (and cleverly covered) women or naked and cleverly covered women. At least that’s what I hear. My wife’s hidden the issue, but she brought up the neo-pornographic theme this morning over coffee. (And the intrepid correspondent I am, I tracked a cover shot, right).
Turns out there’s a little controvery stirring, as there usually is when advertising dollars are at stake.
A Time Inc. staffer (Time owns SI) complains she was made to view porn. That got picked up by Folio magazine.
Gawker goes snarky on the topic, as it’s wont to do.
The point should be: Fish or cut bait. Be a sports magazine that does a swimsuit issue, or be a porn magazine. Your traditional editorial is struggling anyway, so maybe the choice is clear. It’s a lot less expensive to business build a model on relatively inexpensive photo shoots of scantily clad women than it is to generate compelling editorial coverage from a staff of well-paid reporters and editors.

Am I a prude? Absolutely not. I’m as red-blooded as the next American male. But SI crosses boundaries in its readership. A lot of kids and young adolescents read the publication. I grew up with it. As a culture, though, we’re ignoring once-traditional (and healthy) boundaries. This issue is a classic case. At my barber shop, they keep the porn covered in a wooden magazine rack. That’s discretion.
Sports Illustrated has lost its discretion.
But wait! Kids are already exposed to neo-porn every day! SI means nothing in big scheme of things.
Sure. Keeping pulling on your cultural-rationalization bong.

If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!

Comments

7 Responses to “SI swimsuit porn”

  1. Lou Covey
    February 14th, 2008 @ 12:10 pm

    Here’s my problem with all this. SI has been doing a swimsuit edition for as long as I can remember. And every year, people are “outraged” that they have done this. SI does little more to promote this issue any more than any other issue. It is promoted, primarily, by those people who are “outraged.”

    It reminds me of a truly awful movie, The last Temptation of Christ” based on what was truly wonderful book of the same name. The Christian and Catholic right came out and picketed the movie, caused a big stir and boosted ticket sales tremendously. As soon as people saw how lousy a movie it was, ticket sales dropped abruptly.

    This issue of SI will come and go. Few will remember the lovely lady on the cover, which you have so graciously reproduced for all of us (I’m outraged, I say. Outraged) on your blog. And next year, it will all start again with little or no change.

    How ’bout we all make a pact and say, we are just going to ignore SI in February from now on. There is nothing interesting in the sporting world in February anyway (which is why they came up with the swimsuit issue in the first place.) Instead, let’s go to the beach. Take a walk, read a book … anything but bring attention to a bit of porn. Who knows, if we get into that habit, we won’t have as much time to be outraged.

  2. Loring Wirbel
    February 14th, 2008 @ 2:32 pm

    Or middle-class-Black-American outrage over the latest iteration of gangsta rap or hip-hop. What was outrageous five years ago becomes mainstream today. And then Oprah and Bill Cosby have to find new things to be outraged about. Not that there isn’t some legitimacy about SI swimsuits and gangsta rap spiraling further downward, but as Lou says, to name it is to give it more substance…

  3. Ry Schwark
    February 14th, 2008 @ 2:41 pm

    Like Freddy Kruegar, the nightmares of our puritan ancestors keep rising from their graves to rail against the evils of fornication.

    Oxygen to the flame, the protests give unnatural life to something that we should all go “eh.” about and move on.

    Are we really that wrapped around the axle about naked bodies?

  4. Lou Covey
    February 14th, 2008 @ 4:59 pm

    I take a moment to rise up and defend our Puritan ancestors, and after them the Victorians who were also accused of prudishness. Having come from one of the founding members of the Rhode Island colony and done some extensive research, I have discovered that the Puritans were not at all adverse to extracurricular horizontal, or even vertical “hula” they just didn’t think you should brag about it. Thje Victorians were much the same way. “Kiss” but don’t tell is, a civilized way as far as I’m concerned.

  5. screaminglady
    February 14th, 2008 @ 8:36 pm

    Ry, Naked bodies? No. They’re great. Distributing them to family households without a plain band and shrink-wrap to monitor (I didn’t say censure)its exposure? Yeah, I’m wrapped around the axle about that. I don’t mind my teenager looking at a photo here and there; he’s curious. I get it. But I’ll be damned if I’m going to throw 100 pages of women air-brushed to unattainable “perfection” sprawling naked with their butts sticking up in the air and their genitals covered with coconuts on the coffee table. Porn’s not the problem. Distributing it under the guise of “sports” and associating it with everything else my 15-year-old loves about sports is the problem. It’s a big problem. Porn has its place and that place is called discretion.

    And Lou, you’re right. Our outrage makes it all the more tantalizing. Saying nothing to advertisers isn’t right, though. Regardless, the issue will continue to focus less on bathing suits and more on flesh with every passing year. Otherwise, the guys won’t have next year’s issue to look forward to.

  6. wretch
    February 18th, 2008 @ 12:36 am

    To comment on a side issue here, I and some friends went to the opening of “The Last Temptation of Christ” in NYC. The cops used barricades (glorified sawhorses) to outline an enormous area of the street outside the Ziegfeld, setting it aside for protesters.

    I recollect there being fewer than two dozen protesters, and I’m being charitable by describing them as a ragtag bunch. Their protest was amateurish and half-hearted, and would have been silly if it hadn’t been so pathetic.

    We were at the theater early. One of my friends, a member of Act Up, took pity on the protesters, and actually went over to advise them on how to be more effective.

    They didn’t take his advice.

    There may have been large protests elsewhere, in other cities, but at the opening in NYC, I can say as an eyewitness that the “big protests” against the movie were a media phenomenon.

    As for the SI swimsuit issue…

    They were selling whore-wear for grade school girls at department stores last year (thank goodness that part of the point of fashion is that it is ephemeral).

    And I suppose we were all stunned to learn the extent to which little girls are sexualized at child pageants. And parents who are doing this to their kids deny that’s what it is.

    The point is, the editors of SI are just another part of a culture that sometimes can’t even recognize that a line exists, let alone has been crossed.

    — Brian

  7. GeorgeS
    August 9th, 2008 @ 4:13 pm

    You have a runaway hard-core porn industry in the US don’t you. It seems to be accepted everywhere. Now what’s this about female breasts?
    The debates about “pornography” took place in the 1960s and 70s and nudity was not considered “pornography”. How about some discretion in terminology.
    I don’t favor stupid hard-core, I don’t want to watch others doing it, I wish that were eliminated. But don’t throw nudity in the same basket and prosecute viewers for that.

Leave a Reply





  • Sunset in the Sunset

    Sunset in the Sunset
  • Recent Comments