The Finktank is more of what you've come to expect from Jesse Fink, The World Game's enfant terrible, but with a bent on the big issues in sport. No sport, no personality, no subject, is off limits.
Nazi swastikas don't belong in sports magazines
I’ve seen some dumb things in my time covering sport, from the plain ill advised (Michael Jordan giving up basketball to play baseball) to the straight downright gold-plated stupid (John Hopoate’s digital mischief springs to mind).
But the new Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue takes the cake. It’s not only ill advised and stupid but grossly offensive.
Normally the new SI swimsuit issue is a harmless date on the international sporting calendar; just a chance for the sport-following menfolk among us (and a few women) to gaze in wonder at a clutch of preternaturally beautiful models in bikinis.
Like the old editors of Inside Sport (and now Alpha, Australia’s new purveyors of sport smut) liked to say, “Hey, being healthy and good-looking and fit is a connection to sport, it’s legitimate.”
Brooklyn Decker, which sounds like a brand of preppy gym shoe but is actually a 22-year-old woman who is married to tennis star Andy Roddick, is the covergirl on the news stands, and she’s a prudent choice. Well, done ed. Pretty, sunny, athletic, like a cross between Charlize Theron and Elin Nordegren. Not unpleasant to look at.
Which is something I can’t say about poor South African model Genevieve Morton, whose shoot by Walter Chin is featured on the website.
In a picture not included in the magazine but freely available online, Chin and his creative team have made the rather bewildering decision to have Morton, 23, pose in front of a World War II American fighter plane in the Mojave Desert.
All well and good.
But adorning the plane are Nazi swastikas.
Now I’m not a PC prude by means – I thought Prince Harry was unfairly maligned for dressing up in a Nazi uniform for that costume party, for instance; he might be a future of King of England but he’s just a kid who did something he didn’t think through properly – but SI, one of the biggest magazines in America, should be thoroughly condemned for this provocation.
They can hardly claim it’s accidental. It’s obvious. There to see.
Someone has taken the time to enhance the image on screen, just like all magazine art directors habitually do, and someone has duly approved it, as editors normally do.
So how do they justify it? It can’t be justified.
It’s a symbol of hate and death under which tens of millions of people were slaughtered. Its power has not diminished.
What on earth is it doing being matched with a blonde in a bikini? Beats me.
Might as well put Morton in front of burning cross while they’re at it if the hard and fast rule is anything goes.
The problem is: anything doesn’t go.
Nazi swastikas don’t belong in sports magazines.
Chin’s shoot belittles the memory of those who died under the Nazis.
In the right context, swastikas should be seen and they should be understood for what they are.
But they should never be used as props in a fashion shoot.
SI has gone way too far.