I was commenting on a post from the Modern Gal today when I decided to cut myself off and just write my own post on the subject.
It is fairly well known, and no surprise to anyone, that the best selling single magazine issue, year after year, is the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. It is the Super Bowl of magazines, anticipated like no other and pulling in the advertising dollars, and news stand sales, to match. The timing of the thing is no coincidence, coming as it does in the doldrums of the sporting calendar, February, in the middle of the NBA and NHL seasons, two sports most of us don't pay any attention to anyway. Football is over. Baseball has yet to begin. Clearly, America needs some tits with paint on them.
But not me, folks. I've been an SI subscriber for five years, and this year I finally remembered to decline the Swimsuit Issue in favor of receiving an extra week on my subscription. Don't get me wrong- when I was fourteen years old I looked forward to that glossy tome of bikini-clad sex almost as much as Christmas and my birthday, and the three of them are spaced evenly apart, making it a wintertime holy trinity of egg nog, birthday candles and sand-covered naughty bits, all just a few weeks apart.
I'm so over that now, though. The last few years I've spent about as much time with the SISI as I do Courtney's issues of Entertainment Weekly: I flip through the pages, maybe read a photo caption or two, squint really hard to see if I can make out the nipples through somebody's fishnet top, then go make a sandwich. Seven minutes, tops, including sandwich making. And the sandwich is far more memorable.
Maybe it's another sign I'm getting old. Maybe I've been desensitized by internet porn (Who hasn't?) Or maybe, and this is a stretch, I read Sports Illustrated for the sports writing. If I want overly stylized portraits of naked or nearly naked women, I'll get myself a subscription to Playboy. Or better yet, Penthouse. They at least commit themselves to the subject year-round. And they don't consider body paint risque. (Sort of like I don't watch football for the cheerleaders; if that were the case I'd just go to a strip club and get it over with.)
A lot of people, year after year, decry the sexism and unrealistic body image that the SISI purportedly embodies and promotes. Bullshit. It's girls in bikinis. Or paint. Anything else is just what you read into it, nothing more. And that's why these days they give you the choice to decline it- everybody's happy. The Issue is a huge Time-Warner moneymaker, so I don't begrudge them their cash cow. I just think it's a waste of paper. Besides, they put all the photos they print and all the ones they don't, plus videos and behind-the-scenes footage, online.
And have you ever tried to look at pictures of girls in bikinis online? In bikinis? On the internet? Who does that? It's kind of like looking at Victorian ankle porn, if the Victorians had ever thought to paint a water-soluble mural over the woman's exposed ankles. It's just not the turn-on I suppose it used to be.