Intentionally Unreasonable: No time for swimsuits, and other cold thoughts

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My brain is frozen and my fingers ache. So with today’s wind chill of 10 below zero I can only muster short bursts of coherent thought presented in the form of an unreasonable buffet:

• Something that drives me absolutely, break-the-steering wheel crazy is parents who pull up to the designated drop-off zone, stop, and instead of pushing their kid out the car door with any sense of urgency, pick that exact moment to engage little Jimmy, Timmy or Suzy in a lengthy discussion about homework, after-school plans, after-school snacks or any number of things that go on forever, while a line of 10 other cars with frustrated parents wait behind, hoping to drop off their kids sometime before lunch.

Then, when this unaware/inconsiderate parent finishes drop-off bonding, the kid emerges, walks to the rear door, opens it and proceeds to rearrange a backpack, checking to see if mom packed four cookies or five, followed by more lazy conversation. Meanwhile, other cars are lined up, kids who can’t wait any longer jump out of cars and dodge traffic to enter school, until finally, the log-jam parent slowly pulls away, blissfully unaware of the havoc that just ensued.

New universal parenting rule: When dropping your kid off at school in the morning, please arrange after-school plans 300 yards in advance, provide any dietary instructions 200 yards out, followed by telling Jimmy, Timmy or Suzy that you love them 100 yards away from the school. Then at ground zero, just push them out – with a loving touch of course.

• The Beatles were much more than a great band. They redefined music and pop culture more than any other musical or entertainment artist or group, ever. So to see Sir Paul McCartney singing backup for whoever invites him these days feels “American Pie”-ish sad. How soon before L.L. Bean announces that Toad The Wet Sprocket is making an encore appearance at the Bean Summer Concert series with McCartney singing backup? With a billion dollars in the bank, 60-plus gold discs hanging on his wall, and a legendary status intact, 72-year-old Sir Paul should just quietly exit, stage right, before people start forgetting that he was once in a pretty good band.

• Do you know that bestselling author Tess Gerritsen lives in Camden? Not just when the weather is nice and the tax situation better, but full-time. I interviewed her last week for my radio show and she is one of the most fascinating people I’ve met in long time. After growing up in San Diego, graduating from Stanford, she received a medical degree, then worked as a physician in Hawaii for years before moving to Maine to pursue writing.

Gerritsen has produced several best sellers, with more than 30 million copies sold in 40 languages. Most known for her “Rizzoli & Isles” book series, now a hit television show on TNT, her newest book “Die Again” was just released and it’s great.

• For as long as I can remember I’ve been a subscriber to Sports Illustrated. Great topical sports coverage, true long-form literary excellence and world-class photography. But after almost half a century of loyal readership, the magazine left me in its editorial approach, and now I’m leaving it in the form of my cancelled subscription.

Why? The short answer is their most recent Swimsuit Issue just went too far. In 1964, SI first included a modest five-page “swimsuit” section amid the regular sports journalism of the day. Then in 1997, they made the corporate decision to more aggressively suck from the commercial and profitable teat with the start of fully dedicated Swimsuit (now uppercase) issues each year. Last week’s featured no less than 214 separate images of women (photos and ads) in bikinis and in body paint, and a cover girl pulling her semi-see-through bikini bottom below her Brazilian equator.

What was once a playful and welcome annual supplement evolved over the years into naughty, suggestive and then overtly sexual.

My criticism isn’t based upon any prudish or puritanical objection. If a woman wants to be photographed covered in nothing but a few grains of sand or  four ounces of strategically applied body paint, that’s her right. And, if a magazine wants to publish those photos, followed by people wanting to read it, that’s fine, too.

But Sports Illustrated is playing another game, one more like a magician using misdirection to keep the focus away from the actual deception. In this case, sports coverage over 51 weeks is used to legitimize their cash-cow publication featuring photos of semi-nude women. For SI, the Super Bowl has nothing to do with football and everything to do with this immensely profitable, multi-media “Swimsuit” franchise – a mass-media circus SI validates with a wink, a chuckle and co-enabled financial gain.

It’s 2015 and I’m not OK with supporting people or organizations that present women as commodities for sexualized entertainment value or gratuitous voyeurism, even if it’s only one week a year.

Sidebar Elements

Steve Woods is from away, but fully here now, living in Yarmouth, working in Falmouth, traveling the world, and trying his best. His column appears every other week. He can also be heard each Saturday at 11 a.m. on WLOB-AM 1310.