Friday, October 16, 2009

ESPN's 'Body Issue' does its job

According to a report by The Wrap about the Magazine Innovation Summit in New York this week, ESPN boosted subscriptions to its "Insider" (a companion to the magazine) by 400 within two hours of posting its "Body Issue" images online. Newsstand data wasn't released.
Of course. That was the point -- it doesn't take a genius to see how the SI Swimsuit edition and other flesh-baring editions of sports-related titles do on the newsstand: They sell.
ESPN's sex-sells issue was, in my mind, different in some significant ways from the SI swimsuit edition. ESPN had argued that the mag was driven by journalistic motives, and while that's highly debatable, the images do exhibit a range of athletic images. It is much more ambivalent than SI -- alternating back and forth between images that can be read as liberating because they challenge ideal-body norms, and those that reinforce a "hetero-sexy" apologia by female athletes.

1 comment:

Sarah Wolter, UMN Twin Cities said...

The second parts of the captions aren’t written by ESPN; they’re from people who are supposed to “know” the athletes (or at least their bodies) in the photos. It seems like this is one way ESPN can dismiss responsibility for gendered descriptions of the athletes. The descriptions are definitely better than past representations; however, descriptions of women are centered around what their bodies look like. Men’s descriptions are about what their bodies can do.