NY Times, TIME mag quote GMA News on FHM issue
Miriam was on a verbal rampage last week, but it was a soft-spoken mestiza whom the international media was much more interested in.
Filipina cover model Bela Padilla was embroiled in a controversy that hit key buttons for prestigious media like the New York Times, the BBC and TIME magazine -- racism and sex.
To put the issue in a critical perspective, both the Times and TIME quoted liberally from GMA News Online, in particular a commentary written by writer Katrina Stuart Santiago that castigated FHM magazine for pitting "one woman’s white body against five women’s black bodies" on its now notorious March cover, since replaced by a more innocuous one that featured just a bikini-clad Bela.
The IHT blog on NYTImes.com:
Katrina Stuart Santiago, in an opinion piece on GMA News Online, a large news and entertainment portal in the Philippines, said the cover, as usual, played into men’s sexual fantasies.
“But to layer that fantasy with skin color and race, to imagine the fantasy to be about a white-skinned cover girl stepping into the light and out of the shadows represented by dark-skinned girls? That is a clear line being crossed,’’ Ms. Santiago said.
“It’s a line that’s about taste on the most superficial level, which fundamentally can only fall within the bigger discourses of skin color and discrimination, racism and white supremacist ideology. That FHM cover reveals how all of these are inextricably tied.’’
Ms. Padilla, 20, said she was proud of the photo and did not regret doing the shoot. She said the photo and an accompanying story were intended to signify the jettisoning of her own inhibitions while changing her image to appeal to an older demographic.
“So they wanted to me to come into a ‘coming-of-age’ sort of article — that’s why they chose that caption,’’ she said in an interview with the BBC.
“Racism,” she added, “was totally out of our heads.”
“Emerging as she does from the darkness of the other girls on that cover,’’ Ms. Santiago said in her commentary, “is a display of white supremacist ideology at its most vicious because it’s shameless. It is a display of whiteness against blackness that is sold us as fact: The white woman can only emerge as her true self from the shadows created by the black girls.
“It is said that this is about Bela emerging from her ‘inhibitions.’ But pray tell, why would a white girl’s inhibitions appear as a bevy of black girls? Why pit one woman’s white body against five women’s black bodies? Why highlight one at the expense of the others?’’
GMA News Online was the only Philippine media site quoted by NYTimes.com. For its part, TIME said:
(The cover) sparked debate on social media and news sites. “It is said that this is about Bela emerging from her ‘inhibitions.’ But pray tell, why would a white girl’s inhibitions appear as a bevy of black girls? Why pit one woman’s white body against five women’s black bodies? Why highlight one at the expense of the others?’’ Katrina Stuart Santiago wrote in an opinion piece for GMA News Online, a news outlet in the Philippines. Why indeed?
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