John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight asks the question nobody can answer — how is the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition still a thing?
Created in the dark ages of the 1960s to keep sales up between sports seasons, the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition somehow continues to be the magazine’s best seller every year. In 2013, over 800,000 copies were sold of the Swimsuit Edition — that’s more than 10 times what a regular issue sold.
Well, we guess it’s not that mysterious — sales remain high because the mag blatantly courts controversy every year, such as this year’s bizarre debate about cover model Hannah Davis’ prominent mons pubis.
“Even SI seems to know it’s losing relevance,” says the Last Week Tonight narrator, “which may be why, every year like clockwork, they provoke an attention-grabbing controversy, whether it’s using other country’s citizens as props, objectifying women with an actual object, or this year baiting the media with this bulls–t.”
The video then cuts to Davis’ cover image, at which point a media talking head asks, “When the line goes this far, what’s left?”
“The vagina,” responds the narrator. “The vagina is what’s left.”
Of course, the real question is how this relic of an earlier, simpler, and, er, sexist-er time continues to appeal to anyone with an internet connection.
“It was a perfect expression of the ’60s — a time of rampant casual sexism,” says the narrator. “But as society moved on, the Swimsuit Issue not only hung around, it became the magazine’s key selling point… Which raises the question — why?
“Sure, at one point it was tantalising to receive a once annual printed magazine of scantily-clad women. But do people not understand they can now just type ‘naked ladies’ into the internet and see what Google throws at them?”
As always, John Oliver, we salute you.
Can you explain how the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition is still a thing? Enlighten us in the comments below!