John Oliver Asks
Sports Illustrated has been "the preferred magazine for dads in the crapper since 1954," says the narrator on John Oliver's Last Week Tonight, but every year since the mid-1960s SI puts out an annual issue featuring women nominally in swimsuits. The original idea of the special February issue was to keep the magazine alive in between sports seasons, but the Swimsuit Issue has become a cultural institution of its own, way outselling other SI issues and creepily welcomed annually by male talking heads on TV.
Why? asks the narrator. "Sure, at one point it was tantalizing 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?" It's a good question, and a close cousin of "why isn't print dead?" — something the journalism industry discusses ad infinitum. Oliver's version version of the quandary makes for much better television — which suggests one big reason the Swimsuit Issue is still alive and kicking. —Peter Weber