For decades now, the annual issue featuring hot babes in skimpy swimwear has been drawing criticism and outrage for objectifying women as mere sexual devices instead of lauding them for, like, you know, their brains and stuff. This year, the SI Swimmie has kicked off a new cause of outrage, one that says that Sports Illustrated has now stooped to cultural insensitivity and exploitation in order to peddle their male chauvinist eye candy!
This year, for reasons not fully understood, SI channeled some of that National Geographic energy by setting some of the photo shoots amid various cultural settings from around the world. The website Jezebel is leading a rallying cry against the annual, saying that the various shoots (with settings themed on the Seven Continents) “is perpetuating racial stereotypes by drawing power and class lines between the Westernized models and the “primitive locals” and points to a long history of media using people of various ethnicities as ‘extras’” [Elise Sole, Shine from Yahoo!, conveying other sources].
Even some of the male fans of the annual issue complained about the ruined mood in some of the globe-trottery shoot settings: One model on a bamboo river skiff with an old Chinese man pole-rowing; a model posing amid Thai children in traditional costume; a babe leaning on Spanish matadors; and a model carrying a spear amid a desert backdrop with tribal African spear-hunters.
The SI Swimsuit issue always was a cavalcade of questions begging to be asked. What to women in swimsuits have to do with the usual sports theme of the magazine? How much smaller are the swimsuits going to get? In a nation where a half-million war veterans are living at-or-below the poverty level, why is the SI Swimsuit issue always a cause for greater outrage by comparison? When is American society going to outgrow its fear of the human nude form?
But now we face new questions. Like this: Why is Sports Illustrated trying to educate us about the world? Their reader base wouldn’t be reading so much about batting averages and rushing yards if they were that interested in it.
Or this: Why does Sports Illustrated interested in indicating to us that they think? Don’t the insightful, award-winning articles about Olympic wrestling and college hoops already indicate that to us?
But for some of us fellas, the question about the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue always was and continues to be this: Where’s the ass? Enough with the moo-cans and the frontal shots, already! Why are there always too few ass shots featured? and when featured, usually by some malnourished gal with too little ass contour? Why are us ass enthusiasts always getting the brush-off?
As far as the outrage over the cultural stereotypes and exploitation, yeah. Maybe there’s a point. Why show tribal Africans in loincloths hunting desert prey with spears, so far outside their usual research-console-at-a-jet-propulsion-laboratory setting? And that guy on the flat raft in China? Ditch the pole and the poker-lamp hat and mix in an Evinrude, for Christ sakes! Stop being so authentic! And start looking more American!
The endless flow of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue complaints are reducing our society to a laughingstock. Why do people have to care so damn much about it? It would be nice if the American public would just accept a few realities about the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Annual:
- It doesn’t have anything to do with sports.
- It isn’t going to help or collapse the women’s movement.
- It doesn’t posture itself as though it’s trying to broaden our minds.
- And goddammit! It DOESN’T SHOW ENOUGH ASS!!