Tom Jacobs:


Nevertheless, Rolling Stone is a reasonably good indicator of pop-culture attitudes. And while its decisions may be based solely on marketing — sex, after all, sells — the cumulative message its cover images convey is certainly troubling. This research finds men needn’t necessarily be sexy to see their smiling face on the cover of the Rolling Stone. But for women — whatever their artistic accomplishments — hotness is mandatory.


Someone actually did an official study of this? Isn’t it painfully obvious? I remember complaining to someone, oh, about a decade ago that I actually found it annoying to see almost every interview with a female actress, musician or athlete accompanied by a cover photo of them in various states of undress, offering a come-hither look to the camera. What, like I couldn’t possibly be interested in what a woman has to say unless I see her tits first?

He said I must be gay. Thus did I realize that the masses were not ready for my insights. But you people are the elect, capable of handling nuance, so I’ll return to the point here.

I enjoy photography. Don’t know nothin’ about it on a technical level, but I love finding a captivating photo of someone, anyone, and using it as a stimulus to meditation (along with music and scent). Hotness really has nothing to do with it, though. And even being arrested by someone’s appearance isn’t the same thing for me as being attracted to them, desiring them, associating them with whatever pleasure I could imagine them bringing me. Some people are just interesting to look at, that’s all. Nothing else necessarily follows from that, believe it or not.

But even leaving aside my quirky definition of true attractiveness, something else always bothered me about the neon-light garishness of images of nearly-naked women on magazine covers — don’t people feel, well, a little offended at such blatant attempts at manipulation? Fellows, doesn’t it rankle your pride just a little to have some advertising schmuck blithely assume they can so easily yank your chain and get a predictable reaction out of you? Don’t you ever wonder how much of your table-pounding, wolf-whistling reaction is just a Pavlovian response to years of inculcation? I mean, I genuinely don’t get turned on by the mere image of a stereotypically pretty woman, but even if I did, part of me wouldn’t want to give Madison Avenue the satisfaction of knowing that.