The Striptease Issue
ESPN just defied all sense once again with its newest spread of stripped down athletes for its annual “Body Issue”. Entitled “Bodies We Want 2012″, this newest collection features 27 extensively sheared and exquisitely airbrushed athletes. These “specimens” include names you probably know (football’s Rob Gronkowski and basketball’s Tyson Chandler) and names that have probably never popped up on ESPN’s website before (fencing’s Tim Morehouse and sailing’s Anna Tunnicliffe).
We’ll get to the actual, um, content of the issue in a minute but let’s start with the people included. 27 athletes? Really? It’s as if ESPN said, “Shit, I think we’re supposed to cover all sports (not just the ones that make money). Well why don’t we see if any fencers, sailors, or surfers are willing to shed their clothes and do some soft core shots for the magazine. Who cares if most of our readership is male teens? They’ve seen worse.”
Seriously, I don’t have anything against the underrepresented sports and I don’t fancy showering ESPN with bombs, I just think it’s funny that they only decide to give these sports some shine for the Striptease issue. Look at their intent on the top right corner of the page:
“It’s okay to stare. That’s what The Body Issue is here for. Each year, we stop to admire the vast potential of the pornstar. To unapologetically stand in awe of the pornstars who’ve pushed their physiques to profound frontiers. To imagine how it would feel to inhabit those pornstars, to leap and punch and throw like Rob Gronkowski. To … well, gawk. So go ahead; join us.”
Ok, fine – that’s not what it really says. But honestly, I only replaced five words in that entire paragraph. Here’s the real version:
“It’s okay to stare. That’s what The Body Issue is here for. Each year, we stop to admire the vast potential of the human form. To unapologetically stand in awe of the athletes who’ve pushed their physiques to profound frontiers. To imagine how it would feel to inhabit those bodies, to leap and punch and throw like a god. To … well, gawk. So go ahead; join us.”
(Couldn’t help replacing “god” with “Rob Gronkowski” – hope I’m not cursed now or anything)
Okay ESPN your wish is my command. Let’s admire the vast potential of the human form – starting with the USA defender Carlos Bocanegra.
First off, why is he holding the ball? Definitely gonna get a face full of Tim Howard and a yellow card for pulling that. And what’s with all the mud? Are you trying to channel your inner-Shakira from the La Tortura video? Or are photographers getting inspiration from the Dave Chappelle show now? To top it off, Bocanegra’s brilliant take on the picture is “We [Soccer players] hear from members of the opposite sex that they enjoy our legs”. Do I even want to know what he means by that? I’m no soccer player, but if a girl told me she “enjoyed my legs” I would definitely be more than a little weirded out. Even greater, the picture doesn’t even show the dude’s legs. Well played ESPN. Well played.
Skip a few and we get to Rob Gronkowski, star Tight End of the New England Patriots. Anyone who followed the NFL last year knows that this guy is ridiculously built – he broke nearly every single season record for his position in overpowering fashion. He also clearly has the most star power of the 27 pictured, shown by his selection as the cover model for this year’s issue. Let’s take a took at the strangest of his shots: a full frontal with a winking smiley face covering up the only area the magazine can’t show.
Is it just me or does that not look like a whoopie cushion? If it is, would you be surprised if Gronk himself came up with the idea? Actually I bet he tried to convince ESPN to put his phone number under the tongue. Definitely would have upped the magazine’s promiscuous female constituency. Plus it might help accomplish their “inhabit those bodies” goal stated above. Seriously though how funny is Gronk’s face in the picture? If he was laughing or even smiling, I could pass this one off as some type of bad joke. But he’s mugging like he’s a usual suspect. Or maybe he thinks this is a still for Magic Mike. For a second I considered that Gronk may see this a serious foray into artistic self-discovery, but then I read this motivation for posing: “My favorite NBA player, Blake Griffin, was in it, so I thought it would be a cool thing to do.” That’s the Rob Gronkowski I know.
There are other absurdities in the issue but my eyes are starting to itch and they may start burning if I focus on these pictures any longer. At the end of the day, I get that ESPN makes money off this and if they and SI ever merge and decide to combine “The Body Issue” with the “Swimsuit” issue with SI providing the talent, I’ll be the first to drop all my complaints. For now though, its simply ridiculous.
Follow Akash on Twitter