14 February 2013

SI Swimsuit Issue Goes to Africa...

I heard about the fact that SI's annual swimsuit issue covered all seven continents after it published this week. My first thought was to check on the Africa pictures to see if they included directly or references to traditional African cultures. They certainly did do that and were offensive along the way. Jezebel with the takedown (the issue also manages to do much the same in Asia):
But even more upsetting are the shots taken in Namibia, in which a black man is a prop. A black model was also shot in the African country, but when the magazine used the man as a prop, they used a white model, for contrast. Photographing Emily DiDonato against the country's stunning sands wasn't enough. A half-naked native makes the shot seem more exotic — even though Namibia is a country with a capital city where there are shopping malls and people, you know, who wear Western clothes. Also: People are not props. 
Africa has long been portrayed as a place of uncivilized, primitive people, despite the fact that it is a very diverse continent with an epic diaspora and considered the birthplace of civilization. From Morocco to Côte d'Ivoire to Ethiopia to Egypt and Nigeria, no one African country is like another. But these shots tap into the West's past obsession/fetishization with so-called savages, jungle comics and the like. Again: In a visit to seven continents, this image is what Sports Illustrated is using to represent the continent of Africa. A model holding a fucking spear.  
Questions: Who is this man? Was he cast? Was he paid? Does he know his ass is in glossy print, all over the United States right now?
Good questions. Though what matters most is if SI is listening. Better yet, are its readers aware of these problems? HT Africa is a Country