Will the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue go the way of Playboy?

On his show Last Week Tonight, John Oliver looks at why the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue is still being published and the greater mystery of why it is so popular. With the internet providing such easy access to photographs of naked women, why are the newsstand sales of this issue still so high and can it last? Or will it soon suffer the same fate as Playboy?


  1. says

    As porn goes, it’s pretty lame. Flat lit glamour. (yawn) For one thing, if they’re going to titillate they may as well go full nude -- that was more or less what made the Cheryl Tiegs photos such a big thing in the early 80s. Still, flat lit glamour (yawn)…

    I’m probably jaded. I don’t lose my mind and start masturbating furiously at the sight of a woman’s ankle anymore, either.

  2. A. Noyd says

    The reason it’s still popular is because it sends a strong message that despite more and more women being celebrated as athletes and more and more women entering sports fandoms, sports are still “for” straight men. We can all see women’s proper place is to provide sexual titillation for those men when there’s a whole issue devoted to portraying women that way. You can’t find that kind of reassurance just googling fap material on your own.

    I think they should keep the issue but ditch the sexual objectification and instead show off the athleticism and bodily diversity of both male and female athletes without editing the photos for the sake of “idealization.”

  3. lorn says

    While living in japan I learned that it is traditional to compliment Japanese women on their necks. To be said to have beautiful neck is considered a high compliment. Makes sense, the neck is, in traditional clothing, the only bit of flesh left exposed.

    In certain 21str century Arab nations we see young men fawning over the only bit of feminine form remaining exposed, the eyes. The thought of pubescent Arab youths unpacking their wood while ogling a picture of a pair of eyes peeking out of a wall of black cloth seems far more perverse than them doing it while looking at hard-core porn. It is just one step from getting turned on by eyes floating in a jar full of formalin.

  4. says

    I wonder if part of its popularity is that compared to googling online or buying one of those sexy men’s magazines, SI has a veneer of respectability and less guilty baggage. A guy can even look at this in line at the grocery, leave it on the coffee table at home or “accidentally” receive it as a part of his subscription. Not that those same guys won’t also google “naked lady” as well, but the SI can be out there in the open and less likely to earn him a side-eye, and thus he doesn’t have to “feel bad” about it in any way.

  5. smrnda says

    My take (as an asexual, so take it with a grain of salt):

    First, I totally agree with A.Noyd that it’s part of dude bro sports culture. Second, I think the other thing is that Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition is (in a sense) a kind of official list of women deemed ‘hot’ from a publication known for ranking things.

  6. Steve Gerrard says

    To me it is in the same category as “celebrity slips” or “wardrobe malfunctions”. A glimpse of a TV star nipple is a big deal, despite what is available on the Internet, because of who it is. There are entire forums dedicated to the genre. The models in SI are typically fashion models normally seen in their underwear, in a variety of ads. Pics of them showing more are a big deal because they don’t usually do that.

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