I originally blogged this over at Fashioning Circuits, but I think it also fits here:
As a result of this project, I have been thinking a lot about fashion magazines, including men’s magazines. So when someone on Facebook shared this video, it immediately caught my eye. It is a GQ.com post about Ken Jeong photobombing Kate Upton. Before I’ve even had my morning coffee, I find myself contemplating raced and aged bodies, the artificiality of photoshoots, and all sorts of other things.
Jeong is clearly leading us on, asking us to believe that he was not invited. In fact, the multiple takes of his jump into the pool, wearing different shorts each time, suggest that the folks at GQ are having a laugh.
But what is it about the video that makes it funny? Pulling from Naomi Woolf’s The Beauty Myth, the main source of yuks is that Jeong is intruding into the creation of beauty pornography, causing a humorous disjunction. He is not supposed to be there. But why does his intrusion cause laughs rather than ramping up the sexual tension? For instance, even when Jeong is in bed with the couple, the viewer is never led to believe that this could turn into a menage à trois. If you think I am making too much of it, consider how the screen capture below would be different if it were the male model posing as Jeong does
There are two factors that account for the humor in the video. The first, and less insidious of the two, is that he calls our attention to the absurdity of this type of image. Note the moment at around 01:00 when Jeong playfully bites his own bra strap. It looks ridiculous on him, but it is not at all inconceivable that we might see a shot of a woman doing this in any number of men’s or fashion magazines (commentary about a woman consuming the accoutrements of her own sexuality will have to be saved for another post). (more…)