Authenticity and Sports Illustrated

From Michael Mark, Creative Director/CEO at NYCA.


They came to me naked. One, then another, each young and pretty, some undeniably beautiful, painted, pouting, all undeniably naked.

It was repulsive.

Even pages 95 and 114-115 left me removed and longing for baseball stats.

These were nude supermodels. I’m a paunchy middle age man. I should be in the basement with a flashlight, magnifying glass and a back up set of batteries.

2009-sports-illustrated-swimsuit-issue-bar-refaeliThe Sports Illustrated Swim Suit Issue was here in my hands and my mind was wandering to the economic stimulus package.

It all was too fake. Not the body parts but the whole idea.

Yes it always had been, only this time I couldn’t fool myself. I couldn’t get away from this was a sports pub! And these girls were selling themselves to me so I would buy next years’ subscription to football, basketball, hockey and Rick Riley.

Even the fantasy of 7 countries, 33 models 83 bikinis couldn’t withstand the harsh context of now.

Could it be that beautiful nude women have lost their relevancy in the recession?

Money alone will never over take firm flesh.

It is the sick economy and the war.

And the lie of WMDs.

And the unethical practices of corporate America.

And the sub prime scam.

The general contempt for right and wrong just killed the moment.

Sorry Babe, this never happened to me before, really.

These slicked up airbrushed natural beauties just looked ugly in their naked inauthenticity.

Made brutally clear in the light of our times.

It’s time for the truth. We can handle the truth damit. In fact we lust after it.
The truth here is the SI Swimsuit issue is no longer right with me.

Me with the rising adjustable mortgage.

Me whose neck is on the chopping block of obsolescence.

Me whose kids are needing direction other than ‘Whatever.’

Me in a country starving and starving for hope.

Come on there must be room for fantasy you say?

Let me tell you about fantasy. Fantasy is me maxing out on my 4 credit cards and having 15 others throwing themselves at me knowing I could never catch up.

I know fantasy. I’m intimate with fantasy. She’s a cruel bitch. I’m siding up with reality.

And as I look at these cold hard beauties on pages so slick it’s a wonder they can hold on we both know it. The party’s over.

And there’s this awkward silence. Followed by the cold slap of the cover closing.

And this phoniness makes me feel sad, worse: irresponsible.

And irresponsibility at this time is the dirtiest of feelings.

We are all yearning for a deeper truer connection, certainly deeper than these rubbed on tans and veneer finished smiles.

Deeper than the amount of friends we have on our social site who we don’t know.

We’re trading in sexy and lust for empathy and love.

We need that from our politicians, from our spouses, from our co-workers, from our bankers, from our money, from our cars, from all our relationships from our friends, from ourselves. From our sports heroes, right A-Rod?

We are demanding truth in our magazine pages. Come on, SI show us what you’re made of – not what will make an sleasy sale. Be the best sports magazine in the world. A good sports story will lift us, can lift a nation! I’m thinking of Jackie Robinson! The 1980 Miracle on ice. That kid with down syndrome who played college basketball and one the game! We need you to do what you do and do it better than anyone! Let Playboy have the skin.

We want the same honesty in our articles, in our ads if you can believe that, in our brands.

We need brands that stand for something and stick to it and deliver.
Brands that take their jobs seriously.

Come on Ford and GM makes cars that make us want to buy. Move this country.

Deliver us some value. Deliver us from this mess.

So to those hot little honeys we say “Do the self respecting thing: get out of the sports pages and get thee to a legit skin magazine.”

And that sound you hear? That’s the weight of a magazine landing at the bottom of the recycle bin.

It’s the beautiful thud of reality.

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