Monday, February 16, 2009

It doesn't mean I'm gay, right? Right?

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.


Julie said...

I've never once held a copy of the SISI in my hands. Of course, I've never been a 12 year old boy, so that's probably why.

Stefanie said...

You can decline the swimsuit edition for an extra week instead? This information is of no particular use to me, but I find it interesting anyway. Who knew? (Well, YOU did, obviously.)

em said...

We were at Barnes and Nobles on Saturday and Scott only looked at the swimsuit addition for about 30 seconds. I was proud of that.

The Modern Gal said...

See, herein lies the problem -- remember to decline the issue. I'll put it on my to-do list.

Jacob said...

Making a sandwich? That's a euphemism I've never heard before.

Courtney said...

To me, the swimsuit issue seems incongruous with Sports Illustrated's demographic. I have no data to back this up, but I assume most SI subscribers are men over the age of 25 or so, while the swimsuit issue seems geared toward adolescent boys. If you're over 25 and you get REALLY REALLY EXCITED about the swimwuit issue, you need to go get laid.

Of course, the thing is a cash cow, so maybe non-subscribers just pick it up from the newsstand.

I'm not going to get all up in arms about girls in body paint, but I still don't like SI pervading the notion that sports are only for men. Until they start putting out an issue full of hot naked men, that's the way it's going to seem.

surviving myself said...

I agree dude. Only I keep forgetting to decline it, and then I look thought it once and recycle it. I absolutely hate the swimsuit issue.

A Free Man said...

"Maybe I've been desensitized by internet porn..."

Not living in the States I'm no longer a subscriber, but when I was I think that was probably the meat of the matter.

Meaghan said...

For some reason "sand-covered naughty bits" made me laugh out loud! Are you British?

I don't really see what all of the fuss is about, but I'm not a man that can get a rise out of something solely visual. So what do I know?