A wholesomely pretty 19-year-old blonde with a great rack named Kate Upton has been named the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue covergirl. This seems fairly unremarkable; Upton embodies the blue-eyed, ruddy-cheeked standard of American beauty that’s been around for decades. What is remarkable, though, is that the New York Times chose to promote an article about Upton’s social media prowess in their top spot this morning, implying that the news that lots of people on the Internet like watching a hot teenager do things is momentous in some way.
Let me be clear: I fully support the Times assigning and publishing this piece. The swimsuit issue is an ongoing cultural phenomenon that merits coverage (hell, Tyra Banks makes her turn as the first black cover model sound like the achievement is on par with Jackie Robinson breaking baseball’s color barrier). The article itself is perfectly well-written and shows how Upton has taken a page from the Banks self-promotional playbook. I certainly clicked on it and I’m not even the target audience for photos of scantily clad Upton. It’s the homepage promotion above news on Syria, the Presidential election and Iran that rankles.