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‘Search for our hottest asylum seeker’: Zoo overboard on smutty spread?

It’s a question tormenting men’s magazine editors around the world: how do you get noticed, and make a buck, in an era when the smutty content you specialise in is only a mouse-click away? Former powerhouse FHM published its last edition in May; Ralph was closed in July 2010ACP’s Zoo Weekly, launched to great fanfare in 2006has shed over 50% of its circulation since July 2011.

Perhaps politics made s-xy — and more than a little crass — is the key to keeping the grim reaper away.

Following last month’s asylum-seeker boat tragedies — and impassioned House of Representatives debate — Zoo has been offering its own, inimitable take on the divisive issue. First, the mag offered to house the next boatload of asylum seekers in its office if Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young agreed to front up for a “tasteful” bikini or lingerie shoot.

If Sarah Hanson-Young wants more asylum seekers on Australian shores, then this is one way to make sure they keep coming,” Zoo wrote. “We know she’ll have her knockers if she agrees, but we’re confident she’ll realise it’s good for the country.”

Hanson-Young didn’t take the bait, so the mag Photoshopped her face onto a busty model’s body.

Then, last week, the magazine ran a competition to find “Australia’s hottest asylum seeker”.

Are you a refugee not even the immigration minister could refuse?” asked Zoo. “Then we want to see you! We’re looking for Oz’s hottest asylum seeker, so if you’ve swapped persecution for s-xiness, we want to shoot you (with a camera — relax!) Send your pics and a short story about your tragic past to enterme@zooweekly.com.au.”

Crikey contacted Zoo editor Tim Keen this morning to see whether the mag has received any responses, but no one at Zoo HQ was picking up their phones.

The accompanying double-page spread — illustrated by images of Anglo-Saxon babes on luxury yachts — also offered the reader useful factoids including: “One in every 25 boat people dies making it to our shores.” In the main image, one buxom seafarer says: “We could be assets to this country.”

Yes, big assets …” replies her pal.

A harmless bit of fun? Or a s-xist, xenophobic outrage? We report, you decide.

  • 1
    Posted Wednesday, 18 July 2012 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

    I rather that than all the bullshit tears in the parli ament.

    Like Abbott, Sarah Hanson Young thinks “shit happens” when she sees people drown, it’s not like they are whales to deserve her sympathy. No wonder she always reminds me of Pauline Hanson, two sides of the same coin. Perfect infallible people, always absolutely right, no need to learn the facts of the circumstances. What a bunch of Talibans.

    Even the APY people now ask the government to enforce income management to help their communities to save the children and women. The idealists, disconnected with reality, believe they have the right theory and the right answers, and want to create their own fairy lands.

    NB. I don’t agree with Dastyari and Howe in anyway. Politics in this country has gone totally pathetic.

  • 2
    Mike Smith
    Posted Wednesday, 18 July 2012 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

    I’d prefer it wasn’t needed to make Australians take notice, regrettably, my fellow Aussies are rednecks.

  • 3
    Posted Wednesday, 18 July 2012 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

    Harmless bit of fun as far as I can see, the trouble with far too many lefties is that they have has a total sense of humour bypass.

  • 4
    Posted Wednesday, 18 July 2012 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

    Bloody hell. Last week I found myself defending Sophie Mirabella, and now Zoo. Where’s the simplistic, sloganeering partisanship we expect from the news media?

    From Matthew Knott’s description, Zoo isn’t saying “Bloody queue-jumping terrorists. But at least a few have good tits, right? Right?”, but, “Look everyone! Tits! And while we have your attention, here are some facts about asylum seekers you may not know”.

    It’s crass, exploitative, and as Mike Smith noted above, it’s revolting that this is what it takes to make Australians pay attention to issues, but if it DOES achieve that, it will scrape over the line.

  • 5
    Posted Wednesday, 18 July 2012 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

    It is tacky and crass - yet less offensive than how politicians on all sides of parliament are (not) addressing the issue.

  • 6
    Posted Wednesday, 18 July 2012 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

    Iain Hall is reminding us why there are so few right-wing comedians. Outside angry conservative blogs, saying “female leftist isn’t gorgeous!” and “black politician is a monkey!” doesn’t raise many laughs.

    Hang around long enough and Iain will be falling over himself with laughter as he describes the way Chinese have buck teeth and eat flied lice.

  • 7
    Posted Wednesday, 18 July 2012 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

    Iain - we ELW’s (‘Extreme Left Wingnuts’ as a contrairian poster on this site describes 98% of Crikey readers) have a sense of humour. Just have a look at First Dog, for example. We think politicians of any stripe are fair game, as are pompous bloviators anywhere they might be found. But ‘Zoo’s’ exploitation of the asylum seeker issue in this way is pretty tacky.

  • 8
    Posted Wednesday, 18 July 2012 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

    Zoo seems to think that asylum seekers have to be repulsive.

    Some of the most beautiful women in the world who come here are the Sabean Mandaeans from Iran and Iraq.

    This country is beyond revolting though as it treats refugees as if they are zoo subjects.

  • 9
    Mike Smith
    Posted Wednesday, 18 July 2012 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

    @Steve: Every morning I toss 2 coins to determine which quadrant I’ll troll today. Ah, right-wing Libertarian. Excellent. And believe 9 impossible things before breakfast? Sure.

  • 10
    Mike Smith
    Posted Wednesday, 18 July 2012 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

    @Marilyn: It’ll have a humanising effect, long term. Like restaurants have. Forty years ago, you’d be lucky to find a Chinese restaurant. Now they run the gamut from Korean to Ethiopian. And most Aussies go to them.

  • 11
    Posted Wednesday, 18 July 2012 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

    I feel slightly more stupid for knowing about this.

  • 12
    peter harvey
    Posted Wednesday, 18 July 2012 at 5:08 pm | Permalink

    a bit on the sick side

  • 13
    Posted Wednesday, 18 July 2012 at 7:48 pm | Permalink

    wow @iain, what does Sarah Hansen Young’s appearance have to do with anything? she’s not a model. it’s just a disgusting side effect of an image based society.

  • 14
    Posted Wednesday, 18 July 2012 at 9:20 pm | Permalink

    AndyB +1 and also depressed to think that mags. such as that still exist. Haven’t Panthouse & Playboob ceased publishing?
    I’d have preferred just the words without the gratuitous pictures - what did they add?

  • 15
    Posted Thursday, 19 July 2012 at 8:45 am | Permalink

    Double entendres? Check.
    T!ts? Check.
    Tacky? Check.
    Offensive? Possibly to some, but still a league short of the offensiveness that oozes from comics like the Hun, the Tele and the OO, as well as The Dumb and Failfax.

    Iain Hall, lecturing “lefties” on having no sense of humour - comedy gold mate, who writes your stuff?

  • 16
    Posted Thursday, 19 July 2012 at 10:04 am | Permalink

    Also, ‘Zoo’s’ exploitation of the asylum seeker issue to boost circulation is nowhere near as bad as the exploitation of the issue by the Coalition and its media allies to further their political agenda.

  • 17
    Andrew McIntosh
    Posted Thursday, 19 July 2012 at 10:51 am | Permalink

    Yea, “lefties” have no sense of humour, blah blah. Righties just have no sense, so there, ner. Now on to due matters…

    The real problem is faux, confected outrage. Crikey has fallen for this one, just as Zoo knew at least someone would. That’s the point. The real offensiveness of this isn’t the racism and sexism, it’s the blatant rat cunning and the absurd willingness to fall for it. Zoo know they’re on a winner and personally I congratulate them for gaining attention (now piss off and die, Zoo). The simple ability to IGNORE the shite is something that no one wants to exercise, as consuming and commenting on it is too easy, too enjoyable and too ingrained in our culture now to stop.

    Both lefties, righties and other type-ies just love a good, self-righteous whinge. We’re all one big, happy, easily-offended family.

  • 18
    Posted Friday, 20 July 2012 at 11:01 pm | Permalink

    I guess Zoo isn’t the only one with relevancy deficiency syndrome. Whats sadder than publishing this stuff? Reporting on it ie reprinting it. Poor form Crikey

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