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June 10, 2014

US Media + Brazil + World Cup = Show Me Some Skin

<p></p><p></p>photo: Getty Images. caption: Black woman jumping for joy on beach.

photo: Getty Images. caption: Black woman jumping for joy on beach.
<p></p><p></p>photo: Getty Images. caption: Slim, bikini-clad young woman playing soccer on the beach, late afternoon.

photo: Getty Images. caption: Slim, bikini-clad young woman playing soccer on the beach, late afternoon.
<p></p><p></p>photo: Getty Images. caption: Young woman on beach, wrapped in Brazilian Flag.

photo: Getty Images. caption: Young woman on beach, wrapped in Brazilian Flag.
<p></p><p></p>photo: Getty Images. caption: Two samba dancers drinking coconut drinks, Ipanema Beach, Rio, Brazil

photo: Getty Images. caption: Two samba dancers drinking coconut drinks, Ipanema Beach, Rio, Brazil
<p></p><p></p>photo: Getty Images. caption: Samba dancer playing soccer on the beach in Rio.

photo: Getty Images. caption: Samba dancer playing soccer on the beach in Rio.

Yesterday I wrote about the selection of photos Getty was offering to new publishers to illustrate stories about Brazil and the World Cup. In that case, I was discussing how poverty and Rio’s slums are being romanticized as “colorful”  — with discontent obscured by soccer mania.  If you peruse the same package of photos, there’s another theme that’s jumps out at you. It’s the number of images for sale of voluptuous Brazilian woman, mostly at the beach, contextualized, in many cases, by way of a flag or a soccer ball. Talking predictions, get ready for a generous and gratuitous display of skin — and I’m not just referring males on the pitch — in the North American coverage of the international sports spectacle.

Of course, we all know Brazilian culture is known for traditions and rituals which glorify the body and indulge in the realm of the senses. The issue, though, is how that sensibility is co-opted by domestic media and the PR industry to titillate a North American audience. If less inhibition and physical expression and display is more normative in Brazil and other Latin cultures, the way media and marketers trade on mores, traditions and rituals is something altogether different. Instead, the appropriation of these visions to embellish products or domestic media in the more puritanical North American media market (whoops, forgot this one) suddenly makes them culturally as well as sexually exploitive.

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