Commentary

Kid, You'll Poke Your Eye Out: SI Swimsuits Going 3-D

Swimsuits-B.

Like the idea of Hugh Hefner still scampering about the mansion in full (Viagra-fueled) horniness, there is something comfortable and quaint about the resilience of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue franchise. We are so awash in easily-grabbed Internet porn, how is it possible that anyone would get even mildly excited about arty images of semi-nude undernourished models who ran out of novel ways to hide their nipples years ago? It defies reason. But bless their hearts anyway. Hef and SI still can play pretend naughtiness for us...for some weird reason.

And now, like everything else in American culture that isn't nailed down, the Swimsuit models are going 3-D. SI is partnering with Sony's Network Entertainment to bring 3-D video content material to the SNE, which is available on the Playstation 3 as well as the "Video on Demand by Qrocity" product on select Sony Bravia TVs and newer Blu-ray disc players. The video (it sounds like there will only be one in 3-D) will be available for purchase or rental. The PS3 firmware was updated recently to handle 3-D video content, although like everything else in the 3-D world, there is still a dearth of content.

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Is it too much to hope that SI will go all campy with this idea of putting scantily-clad, sand-encrusted bikini models into campy 3-D routines.

Anyone remember the old SCTV send-ups of 3-D films, "Dr. Tongue's 3-D house of Stewardesses"? Now there was cheesecake with depth perception.

Even in today's 3-D films, moviemakers can't help but artificially insert out-of-place sequences designed explicitly to invoke the 3D sensation. We shudder (not really) to think what the Swimsuit Issue lensemen will come up with to convince us that 3-D was adding value to the usual slow posing of SI videos.

SI of course has always been aggressive in moving its Swimsuit franchise to the latest venues. It was among the first media brands to exploit video podcasting and iTunes downloadable video store and app store. The collection of videos that launches each year at the SI.com site in tandem with the February Swimsuit Issue. This deal does illustrate Sony's eagerness to leverage its hardware devices as an on-demand content distribution network.

The Sony Network on the PS3 already has a compelling subscription system. For a quarterly extra fee PS3 users get exclusive game demos, discounts and even some free titles, and generally the deal succeeds in validating the otherwise drab "Playstation Store" as a content distribution network. The special membership even extends onto the portable PSP when it logs into the network. While he 3D gimmickry of this SI deal may not be too compelling a reason for people to devote time and money to the growing Sony network, the other eleven or twelve hours of SI Swimsuit content the companies plan to pour onto the network may be a more credible draw.

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