The Hook has a montage of tiny nude photos in its current issue, Liza Palka points out for CBS-19. The article is about UVA students who wound up in Playboy (such as in their “Girls of the ACC” feature) and how their future careers panned out. (Which turns out to be as successful attorneys, generally.) Palka does seem to be attempting to gin up controversy—she says that the image “has Charlottesville buzzing” and and is “causing controversy,” but the only reader who appears to care is a UVA student, who describes the appearance of the nude female body as “horrendous”—though it is fair to point out that featuring full frontal nudity in a Charlottesville newspaper is a bit unusual.
The image in question includes twenty images containing nudity, fourteen including breasts, three bottoms bared to an extent that probably wouldn’t be permitted on network TV, and six instances of more-or-less exposed genitalia. The images are pretty small—the biggest bits of nudity I see are 4mm of pubic hair and a pair of 1cm wide breasts—so this doesn’t exactly constitute an anatomy lesson. Another image features tastefully-placed flowers (though the flower doesn’t quite cover the girl on the left), presumably because those images are significantly larger—and thus detailed—than the montage. Palka asked Hook editor Hawes Spencer what the thinking was behind including the images, who said that they help to illustrate the article, and that the paper’s staff didn’t regard them as inappropriate for their own children to view in the paper.
This isn’t quite a parallel, but a personal media pet peeve is stories about an offensive word—such as the lengthy federal court case over U2′s Bono declaring at the Golden Globes that winning an award was “fucking brilliant”—in which the media outlets refuse to utter the word in question, which often leaves the audience wondering what, precisely, we’re all supposed to be so upset about. There’s certainly logic in showing images from Playboy in an article about UVA girls posing nude in Playboy—otherwise it’s tough to assess what, exactly, they’d gotten themselves into—though whether that logic trumps standards of decency for a publication will surely vary from reader to reader.