It’s been a big week for nudity in the surfing world. On the 25th, everyone’s favorite lonely Basque, Kepa Acero (who’s last name translates to the rather pornish “Steel”) dropped a video of himself surfing a deserted point in Angola completely naked. On the 29th, a woman named Alana Blanchard, who you may have heard of, appeared in the first of a series of videos by Network A. In the first installment, she’s hanging out in Kauai with her friends, all scantily clothed. Both videos were equally intriguing but for different reasons.
Blanchard has what is arguably the most ogled ass in all of professional sport, and it, along with her friends’ asses, is on prominent display in the scant five minutes of the video. Interestingly, if you look closely at Acero’s ass, you will find that he too is the proud owner of some lusty glutes. If you were to wax them, put them in a Brazilian bikini and take a close-up shot, I would be willing to bet that it would be impossible to tell apart from Blanchard’s.
Not that you would do that, because that would be weird, right? What is also a little weird is that, at three separate points, the cameramen and editors of Alana’s video have chosen to give us heavily zoomed shots of Blanchard’s ovaries. Not her butt, breasts, or legs, but specifically the lower part of her stomach where her reproductive organs, among other things, are located. It’s strange and kind of trangressively funny to be listening to her voice-over while staring at her baby makers. I’ve never done this to a woman in real life, nor has it ever occurred to me to do so. It’s the sexual equivalent of the “Gangnam Style” dance – something that seems like it should be offensive, but is instead just a little silly.
Both Acero and Blanchard’s videos have a minimum of characterization, which is fine, because in both, the main character is actually the landscape – Angola and Kauai, respectively. Acero has little to do but react to the desert and to the waves with varying degrees of awe, consternation, humility and stoke. His face is perfect for this, and his journey transmits a very visceral sense of “out there” that makes him a valuable employee of his main sponsors: Patagonia, Pukas, G-Shock, VSTR, Arnette, Dakine, and Reef.
Although the surfing scene in Blanchard’s video is somewhat boring, they pepper it with shots of the girls duckdiving, as they must. Kauai really comes into its own in the second part of the video when they go to a local swimming hole with a bunch of young boys (cue latent older woman fantasies which have been dormant in male viewers since grade school) and swim with sea turtles. This would appear somewhat hackneyed if not for some nice underwater shots involving sea turtles and booty.
What are we supposed to take from nudity in these two videos? In Acero’s it is trope that he uses to evoke the remoteness of his destination and the Robinson Crusoe-esque freedom that such remoteness entails. We are not meant to stare too hard at his body; though, in some ways it is more interesting than Blanchard’s because it has not been subjected to the industrial beauty complex that dictates he look and behave a certain way. It is unique, squat and lumpy – not a body that would ever appear in a woman’s magazine.
In contrast, staring is exactly the point of Blanchard’s vid. The bodies are broken down into constituent parts: legs, breasts, stomach, ass, etc and proffered to the camera in the same way that cooking shows flaunt food. Men will ogle with sexual desire, women will ogle with jealous desire. That is all it strives for.
This is not a new trend. Ever since Captain James Cook sent back the first reports of South Sea islanders, mainlanders have viewed island women through a sexually idealized lens (excluding the Australian aborigines and the Maori). Tahitians in particular, with the help of Gaugin, became famous for their good looks and comely demeanors. Although the natives were originally envisioned as dusky Polynesians, Blanchard is a sort of neo-embodiment of the island sexpot, an enchanting siren who appears out of the lush foliage and turquoise waters to tempt the dark urges of wayward men. She’s good at her job, but it is, after all, just a job and there is nothing sexy about that.