Sunday, February 20, 2011

Top Ten Reasons Sex Sells

Actually, I find top ten lists annoying. Well, that's not really true. Only some are annoying and they're the ones that aren't really top ten lists because each item is really previous items restated. Inspired by this list about how Sport Illustrated disrespects women. (While published over two years ago, it came up in my blog rolls recently.) Observe:
4. Sports Illustrated disrespects women by numbing men to women's humanity.

3. Sports Illustrated disrespects women by exhibiting women to men as the "other"--as if women were a different species from the "real" athletes who are men.

2. Sports Illustrated disrespects women by sending a message to girls and young women that no matter how much they excel in athletics, all that matters is how they look to men.
It's not possible to do #3 without doing #4 nor can do you accomplish #2 without #4. Read their whole list. Their "top ten reasons" (there are more?) are really two reasons: "SI disrespects women by publishing too many photos of them as sex objects" and "SI disrespects women by publishing too few photos of them as athletes."

So why did Feminist Truths publish this as a "top ten" list? Just because you have "just" two points doesn't mean they are not worthy points. Even having two things to be concerned with can be too many (most great reporting focuses on one issue). It's because top ten lists get attention. They might depict the subject in a superficial or over-simplified way, lacking nuance and practicality, but that's largely harmless because it's up to the viewer to look deeper or, at the least, recognize it as harmless fun. But in the end, Feminist Truths are giving people what they want.

They're really no different than Sports Illustrated.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

What's With the NYT?

Specifically their automated hyperlink system. The Times has a program (I assume) which runs through their articles and turns various words and phrases into links to other web resources. Sounds cool? Depends on the link because sometimes that program is dumb.

Consider this article about Pixar hoping Toy Story 3 will get best picture. Some links make sense: "Tom Hanks," "Toy Story," " the top-grossing film of the year." But consider this sentence from the article:
On a visit to the Pixar campus here, in an old canning factory a short drive from San Francisco, I got a brief lesson in the laborious art of animation.
Which word or phrase should be made into a link? Pixar? San Francisco? Nope; it was canning (click on the link for more articles about canning!) But that's not the worst one. At the end, the interviewer jokingly asks Toy Story 3 director Lee Unkrich if he has an animated version of himself.
"No," he said. "That would be really creepy. No, thank you."
Don't think that sentence deserves a link? The Times disagreed. Clearly, people want to know more about the word, "no," especially the 1998 Canadian comedy.

The thing is, I find it equally likely that the Times does this on purpose in an attempt to be cute. Is it cute? No.